Joan Carden Award 2019 – Applications open

Applications are currently open – closing April 26th – for entries for this year’s Joan Carden Award.

Conducted with the gracious support of Miss Joan Carden AO OBE, this Award aims to:

  • identify and encourage young singing talent
  • strengthen the Choir’s relationship with the University of Sydney and the Sydney music community, and
  • honour the contribution of Joan Carden to music in Australia

This year the finals of the 2019 Joan Carden Award will be held in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney on August 11th, accompanied by a full orchestra. The audience will once again participate in the judging through a ‘People’s Prize’.

If you enjoy the performances of the soloists at our concerts, this concert (which will also feature the Choir performing Puccini’s Messa di Gloria) is definitely a date for your diary. And if you are – or have a friend or relative who is – a young professional soloist, then this could be your/their chance to perform and to win a prestigious Award with a significant cash prize.

Young singers aged between 22 and 35 years are invited to become part of this exciting event! The Award has a cash prize of $6,000 and the opportunity to perform as a soloist in one of the Choir’s forthcoming concerts. Apply here – the closing date for applications is Friday April 26th 2019.

Joshua Oxley, Tenor

Following his success in winning the 2017 Joan Carden Award, tenor Joshua Oxley performed as a soloist at the Choir’s May 2018 performance featuring works by Mendelssohn and Nicolai, was a finalist in the City Of Sydney Opera Scholarship 2018 and has performed for Opera Australia as Bathasar Zorn in Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and as Tamino in the Magic Flute. You can read more about previous winners here.

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SUGC Chamber Choir to perform at Shoalhaven

On Sunday 17 March 2019, the Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir, conducted by Christopher Bowen OAM will present a performance for Music Shoalhaven in Nowra.

Christopher Bowen has selected a wide range of repertoire for the concert, including popular contemporary pieces as well as selections from choral masterpieces.  These include two famous and beautiful choruses from Elijah by Mendelssohn (1809-1847) being He Watching Over Israel and He That Shall Endure to the End. These two choruses are examples of Mendelssohn’s flair for writing music that is beautifully sweet, and help to explain why Elijah, which dates from 1846 and had its premiere in Birmingham, was as popular in Victorian England as Handel’s Messiah. Mendelssohn’s music is less venerated in our day than it was in the nineteenth century but it is still popular and an essential part of contemporary concert programs.

The program will also include Mendelssohn’s setting of Psalm 42, Wie der Hirsch Schreit, (As Pants the Hart).   After a performance of this Psalm in Leipzig in 1838, Robert Schumann wrote that it showed that Mendelssohn had become the leading composer of church music in Europe.

The concert will also include Wie lieblich Sind Deine Wohnungen from Brahms’s A German Requiem. Brahms’s work is not a setting of the Catholic liturgy of the Requiem but takes as its text various readings from Luther’s translation of the Bible. “German” in the title refers to the work’s language.  The excerpt to be performed is perhaps the high point of the work, a chorus of rapturous, quiet beauty.

The Choir will give a performance of Brahms’s complete work in the Sydney Town Hall on Sunday, 10 November.

The concert at Nowra on Sunday 17 March will also include:

  • Madrigal – D’Indy
  • Tu Es Petrus – Camille Saint-Saens
  • Kyrie eleison – Durante
  • Weary Land – Spiritual. arr. Bowen
  • Les Miserables (various) – Schönberg
  • I am so deep in day – Bowen
  • The ladies of Brisbane – Australian Folksong. arr. Bowen
  • Love changes everything – Lloyd-Webber
  • and others…..

Nowra School of Arts 22 Berry St. Nowra
Sunday 17th March 2pm
Tickets: $35 (members $20)/$25 (concession/senior). Children free.
Tickets available at the door.


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Sing On Report – An Australian War Requiem

In his insightful analysis of the coup d’etat that brought Louis Napoleon to power in France in 1848, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx famously commented:

“Hegel says somewhere that all great events and personalities in world history reappear in one fashion or another.  He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce”.

The premiere performance of An Australian War Requiem, written by our generously gifted Music Director, Christopher Bowen, and set to a libretto by Pamela Traynor, that was held in Sydney Town Hall in August 2014, was a hugely important and very successful event for the Choir. In giving the second performance, in the same venue, on the significant date of 11 November 2018 as part of SUGC’s Sydney Sings™ series, the Choir and Christopher were perhaps tempting fate. If so, the result was a great vindication of the decision, and a repudiation of Marx’s bon mot.

The work’s exceptional artistic quality and emotional power were once again unambiguously acclaimed, and the performance confirmed that An Australian War Requiem deserves to be recognised as a masterpiece of Australian music. The Choir deserves to take great pride in having commissioned it.

An augury of success appeared some years ago, when we learned that the centenary of the First World War armistice, on 11 November 2018, would fall on a Sunday and we were able to book the Sydney Town Hall for the occasion. We were fortunate to recruit excellent musicians to perform with us, including five terrific solo singers, Taryn Fiebig (soprano), Ashlyn Tymms (mezzo soprano), Andrew Goodwin (tenor), Adrian Tamburini and Wade Kernot (basses).  Taryn and Wade were making their debuts with the Choir and will be certainly be welcomed back in the future, while Ashlyn, Andrew and Adrian are favorite regulars of ours.

The large orchestra played magnificently. Stan W. Kornel returned as Concertmaster and was joined in the Strings section by regulars Inge Courtney Haentjes and Dominique Guerbois (violins), Robert Harris (viola), John Benz (cello) and Paul Laszlo (double bass), while the woodwind included Duncan Thorpe (oboe), Deborah de Graaff (clarinet) and the legendary John Cran (bassoon). Steve Machamer played the important timpani part. Our talented rehearsal pianist, Noah Peres, had an opportunity to go on stage, playing the celeste.  There were important solos for Simon Wolnizer (trumpet) playing the Last Post, and for Richard McGregor (bagpipes), who played the Lament of the Lone Piper, which concluded the Requiem.

There were singers from two children’s choirs: Waitara Voices, directed by Jenny Bell, and Mercy Catholic College Chamber Choir, directed by Kathryn McGreal.  The children sang beautifully and were a ‘big hit’ with the audience. The Choir was also enhanced by nearly one hundred guest singers, who are important contributors to the success of our Sydney Sings™ series concerts and many of whom perform regularly with us in this capacity.

The audience was substantial, largely filling the body of the hall. We were very pleased that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence as well as the Choir’s very generous benefactors, Mrs Annie Corlett AM and Mr Bruce Corlett AM were present. Our good friend, the great soprano, Joan Carden AO OBE who has given her name and time to the Choir’s biennial singing competition, the Joan Carden Award, was present with distinguished baritone, Geoffrey Chard AM, who has sat on the Award’s judging panel in recent times. We received goodwill messages from many foreign missions in Australia including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Turkey and the United States, and we were delighted that a number of representatives of these missions were in the audience.

We were very grateful to receive official support from, amongst others, the French Government through its office of the Mission of the Centenary of the First World War (La Mission du Centenaire); the Australian Government through the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Government of NSW through the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the City of Sydney.

An enormous amount of work was required to stage the 2018 event, nearly as much as for the world premiere of the event in 2014. Marilyn Gosling ably led a committee that has overseen every aspect of the project from sponsorship and marketing to assembling the guest choir. Choir President Jackie Rotenstein organized all aspects of the event for the day of the performance itself and Kent Broadhead, Vice-President, oversaw its delivery, supported by a team of volunteer choristers, their friends and family who covered front of house, choir organisation and management, and all aspects of staging.

All of these Choir members have the gratitude of their colleagues for ensuring the delivery of a seamless performance. A more tangible reward for all participants was the sight of the entire audience on their feet and all applauding generously after the work came to a close.

The overwhelming response of listeners to An Australian War Requiem was unqualified enthusiasm.  This is as true of those who had experienced it in 2014 as for those to whom it was quite new.  Many referred to its emotional power, which left them wrung out.  Joan Carden put this eloquently: “I felt as if I had not drawn breath from the beginning to the end, so involved was I…… The powerful poignancy and reverence for the sacrifices made in that war are fully realized in Christopher’s work of genius.  Bravissimo – particularly to Christopher for marrying the music so perfectly to Pamela’s moving and lucid text.”  Annabel Baxter of the University of Sydney’s Alumni Council commented that she did not think she had ever experienced anything to match the performance.

John Bowan

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Sing On Report – Beethoven’s Joseph II Cantata and Mass in C

The Choir’s second Great Hall concert for 2018 comprised two rarely performed works by one of the most admired and popular composers of all, Ludwig van Beethoven.

In the first half of the program, Christopher Bowen led us in the little-known, early Cantata on the Death of the Emperor Joseph the Second, which the choir last performed in May 2006, probably the Australian premiere. The major work presented was the Mass in C Op. 86, composed in Beethoven’s maturity during his Vienna years.

A fine quartet of soloists performed with the choir: Anita Kyle (soprano), who has appeared with SUGC on a number of occasions; Agnes Sarkis (alto), winner of the Choir’s Joan Carden Award in 2012; Nicholas Jones (tenor), making his debut with us and: Simon Lobelson (bass), whose career is developing successfully here and overseas. Simon recently appeared in the principal role in Opera Australia’s production of Metamorphosis, Brian Howard’s setting of Franz Kafka’s famous story.

The excellent orchestra was led by Alastair Duff-Forbes and included a number of fine musicians who regularly perform with us, such as John Cran (bassoon), Deborah de Graaff (clarinet), Duncan Thorpe (oboe), Graham Nicholls and Tina Brain (horns), (Tina is the niece of Dennis Brain, the most famous horn player in history), Melanie McLoughlin and David Pye (trumpets), Inge Courtney-Haentjes and Dominique Guerbois (violins), John Benz (cello), Paul Laszlo and Steve Machamer (timpani). Once again, the skill and professionalism of these players and the relationship that Christopher Bowen has built up with them over the years were important in giving choristers and audience alike a memorable musical experience.

The sizeable audience comfortably filled the Great Hal on a sunny winter’s afternoon. Our patron Professor, Dame Marie Bashir, for whom it is always inspiring to perform, was present and enthused about the performance at the post-concert reception. It was a pleasure also to see a number of retired Grads choristers present at the performance.

Of the music, your correspondent was struck, as was Brahms 150 years before him, by the foreshadowing of Beethoven’s later style in the Cantate. But the power and mastery of the Mass in C was the real revelation. It is extraordinary that this great work is so under-rated. It is telling that legendary bassoonist, John Cran, was playing it for the first time in a professional career of some 70 years: equally telling is that Christoph Kaufmann, our very experienced German tenor, was also performing it for the first time. The work has perhaps been sacrificed to the egotism of great conductors, who have preferred the grandiosity of the Missa Solemnis to its more modest predecessor. The Mass in C is in no way inferior to the later work, which has so overshadowed it in the choral repertoire.

John Bowan

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Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle

‘The last of my péchés de vieillesse’ (sins of old age) is how Rossini described the Petite Messe Solennelle, which the Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir is delighted to present as the Graduate Choir’s last concert of 2018. The performance coincides with the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death (on 13 November 1868).

The ‘Little Solemn Mass’ is one of the greatest works of this genius Italian composer. It was written in 1863, towards the end of his extraordinary life. Despite its title, it is a large opus, full of passion, drama and poignancy, as may be expected from a composer of 39 operas, as well as sacred music, chamber and piano music. Rossini was much influenced by Haydn and Mozart, and the considerable technical skill in this work reflects in part his study and love of Bach.

Dedicated to Louise, wife of Count Alexis Pillet-Will, at whose salon the work was first performed in 1864, the Petite Messe Solennelle was unusually scored for voices (’12 singers of three sexes: men, women and castrati’), two pianos and harmonium. It was later rescored for choir and orchestra, however Rossini himself apparently expressed a preference for the smaller, more intimate chamber scoring.

On this occasion it will be performed in its original form by the Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir accompanied by two pianos and reed organ. The performance will be conducted by the music director, Christopher Bowen OAM. The choir will be joined by an outstanding line-up of soloists: Elke Hook (Soprano), Ashlyn Tymms (Mezzo-soprano), Ben Oxley (Tenor) and David Hidden (Bass).

The Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir, established in 2004, is a small component of the larger Sydney University Graduate Choir, and performs repertoire requiring greater intimacy and transparency of sound.

Please join us at 5pm on Sunday 9 December, at the University of Sydney Great Hall for a wonderful afternoon of music.

Tickets are available from or at the door.

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An Australian War Requiem – meet our soloists

Our 11 November performance of An Australian War Requiem will feature five acclaimed soloists: Taryn Fiebig (Soprano), Ashlyn Tymms (Mezzo-soprano), Andrew Goodwin (Tenor), Adrian Tamburini (Bass), and Wade Kernot (Bass).

Each brings a unique perspective on the events we are commemorating, bringing to life the very human story set against a backdrop of global catastrophe.

You can find out more at our Australian War Requiem website.

An Australian War Requiem is a deeply moving expression of love, loss and courage. It premiered on August 10, 2014, to a packed Sydney Town Hall with an enthusiastic standing ovation. The performance had a profound impact on those in the audience, and also on the performers themselves.

Many Australian families had relatives that served in the Great War, and indeed many families still honour the loss of a father, grandfather or great uncle in this terrible conflict. The impacts can still be felt rippling down the years—politically, socially, or just in terms of how individual families adapted over the years to live with the loss of father, husband or brother.

Tickets for Sunday’s performance are available from Eventbrite, or at the door on the day.

We hope to see you there!

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Have you seen the ‘Australian War Requiem’ web site?

If you haven’t already discovered it, there is a special web site that covers a wide range of topics associated with ‘An Australian War Requiem’ by Christopher Bowen.

This dramatic and moving work is to be performed in Sydney Town Hall on November 11th at 3pm, as part of the Armistice Day Centenary.

Performers include the Sydney University Graduate Choir, guest choristers and large orchestra; Mercy Catholic College and Waitara Voices Children’s Choirs; soloists: Taryn Fiebig (soprano), Ashlyn Tymms (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Goodwin (tenor), Adrian Tamburini (bass) and Wade Kernot (bass), all conducted by composer Christopher Bowen OAM.

The web site includes information relating to the work itself:

  • Biographies of the composer, Christopher Bowen, and librettist, Pamela Traynor
  • Background to the composition of the work
  • Details of the 2014 premiere performance
  • A video of a short section of the premiere

In addition, an important aspect of the WW1 commemorations is the extent to which the war has formed a backdrop to the lives of so many contemporary Australians. With this in mind, the site includes stories from the families of our choristers (from the 2014-18 period), with memories and histories of their predecessors who took part in the conflict.

Finally, the ‘Australian War Requiem’ web site provides a link for ticket purchases for the Armistice Day memorial performance in Sydney Town Hall (direct link to tickets here) as well as online ordering of the CD and DVD from the 2014 premiere.

Click here to visit the ‘Australian War Requiem’ web site.

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Time to Meet the Soloists (part 2)!

Last week we introduced two of our four very talented soloists, Agnes Sarkis (mezzo soprano) and Anita Kyle (soprano). This week we invite you to meet our tenor Nicholas Jones, and baritone Simon Lobelson, who will perform under the baton of music director Christopher Bowen OAM, in our upcoming all Beethoven Concert on Sunday 12th August 2018, at the Great Hall Sydney University.

Nicholas Jones, Tenor

Nicholas Jones Lower resNicholas Jones completed a Bachelor of Music Performance at the former Victorian College of the Arts. Awards include the Opera Scholars Australia / Australian Music Events Scholar of the Year prize.

Performance highlights include: creating the critically acclaimed role of FISH LAMB in the world premiere of Cloudstreet for the State Opera of South Australia; YOUNG MAN 1 in Pecan Summer; SOLDIER 1 in The Emperor of Atlantis and BARNARDO in Anna Amalia’s opera Erwin und Elmire, for which he earned a Green Room Award nomination.

Performances for Opera Australia include: REMENDADO in Carmen; MARASQUIN in Two Weddings, One Bride; TAMINO in The Magic Flute (Opera Australia Touring); and COUNT ALMAVIVA in The Barber of Seville (Schools Touring). He also appeared in company’s national tour of its production of South Pacific.

Concert appearances include: Britten’s Canticles; Schumann’s Dichterliebe; Stefan Cassomenos’ Art of Thought; and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor and Horn at the Australian National Academy of Music.

In 2018, Nicholas continues his association with Opera Australia including: appearing in a number of roles in Shostakovich’s The Nose; ZORN in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, REMENDADO in Carmen; and ALBAZAR in The Turk in Italy. Other performances this year include the tenor solo in The Creation with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Opera in the Markets and the role of MALE CHORUS in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for Victorian Opera.

This is Nicholas’ debut with the Sydney University Graduate Choir.

Simon Lobelson, Baritone

SL2 for blogWith a career that has spanned 4 continents, 75 operatic roles from the baroque to the newly-composed, high respect as a pedagogue and superlative press reviews, SIMON LOBELSON has established himself as one of the most versatile baritones of his generation. Born in Sydney of Egyptian parents and brought up in Brussels, Simon graduated with distinction from Royal College of Music on scholarship, then with Sir Donald McIntyre. He has since worked extensively as a soloist in Australia, the Middle East, Asia, the UK and Europe. Recent oratorio appearances have included Sydney Opera House; Queen Elizabeth Hall; St. Johns Smith Square; St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Sydney Town Hall. He has sung with the London Mozart Players; Sydney Symphony Orchestra; Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; English Chamber Orchestra; Israel Camerata and the Lucerne Festival, under conductors Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, Daniel Reuss, Reinbert de Leeuw, Richard Bonynge, Simon Halsey and Paul McCreesh.

Simon has performed with many opera companies including Royal Opera House Covent Garden; English National Opera; Young Vic; Pinchgut Opera; Sydney Chamber Opera and Canberra International Music Festival. Roles have included: AMFORTAS (Aida); ESCAMILLO (Carmen); the title role in Rigoletto; ALBERICH (Das Rheingold); MARCELLO (La Boheme); FORD (Falstaff); GERMONT (La Traviata); and the title role in The Marriage of Figaro. He has worked with many leading directors, including Jean-Claude Auvray, Patrick Nolan, Ian Judge, John Copley, Bruno Ravella, Melly Still, Cheryl Barker and Jude Kelly. He will make his Opera Australia debut this September, singing the title role of GREGOR SAMSA in Brian Howard’s Metamorphosis.

He has recorded for Chandos and ABC Classics. He is a lecturer and coach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a judge for the Sydney Eisteddfod and has given masterclasses in Australia and China.

His last performance with the Sydney University Graduate Choir was the concert of French music in April 2017.

The Choir is very much looking forward to welcoming you to our audience on Sunday 12th August at 3pm, at the Great Hall Sydney University. Tickets are available now at

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Time to Meet the Soloists!

We are delighted to introduce you to our four very talented soloists, who will take to the stage under the baton of music director Christopher Bowen OAM, in our upcoming all Beethoven Concert on Sunday 12th August 2018, at the Great Hall Sydney University.

In this first of a two part series, we present our soprano and mezzo soprano.

Anita Kyle, Soprano

Anita Kyle for blog

Lyric soprano ANITA KYLE received her Licentiate Diploma in Music (LMusA) in Singing while studying with Maree Ryan at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  She has also attended international summer schools at the American Institute of Music in Graz and the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria.

Anita has won or been a finalist in a number of important singing competitions. These have included: winner of the National Operatic Aria, Music Teachers’ Association of NSW Vocal Scholarship; semi-finalist in the McDonalds’ Operatic Aria Scholarship; finalist in the 2MBS-FM Young Performer of the Year; ABC Young Performer Awards, and the Dame Joan Sutherland Scholarship.

While studying with Anthea Moller, Anita was awarded the MTO German-Australian Opera Grant, a 12-month solo contract at the Hessian State Theatre in Wiesbaden, Germany. Her roles there included: the 15 YEAR OLD in Lulu; FRASQUITA in Carmen; SOPHIE in Werther; SANDMAN and DEW FAIRY in Hansel and Gretel; PAPAGENA in The Magic Flute; LUIGIA in Viva La Mamma; PASIPHAE in Ariadne;  JUNGFRAU and ENGEL in Das Paradies und die Peri; GOVERNESS in Orpheus and Eurydice; and LIESCHEN in Bach’s Coffee Cantata.

In all, she spent four years in Germany, during which she also performed in a number oratorios and recitals. Since returning to Australia, Anita has performed in joint recitals with Gerard Willems and Deborah De Graaf (in Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen),  Brad Cooper and Robert Andrew Greene, as well as with organist Mark Quarmby in the Sydney Town Hall for the Organ Music Society of Sydney. She has also been broadening her repertoire as the soprano soloist in Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras (No.5);Fauré’s Requiem;Casals’ El cant dels Ocells (The Song of the Birds); Jenkins’ The Armed Man and Stella Natalis; Haydn’s Mass No. 10 in C Major (Mass in a Time of War) and Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore K339, Mass in C Minor K427, Regina Coeli and Requiem; Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem; and Bach’s Magnificat with the Manly-Warringah Choir under the baton of Dr Carlos Alvarado.

Anita made her debut with Sydney University Graduate Choir in 2015, performing the soprano solo in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and has returned as a soloist in C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat; Heinichen’s Mass No. 9; Handel’s Messiah;  and Mendelssohn’s Paulus.

Agnes Sarkis, Mezzo-soprano

Agnes Sarkis_PhotoAgnes Sarkis was born in Iran to an Armenian family. She graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with an Advanced Diploma of Opera, 2011 and Graduate Diploma in Music (Opera), 2012, and while there she studied with Barry Ryan. She was a finalist in both the 2013 Bel Canto Award and the 2014 The Sydney Eisteddfod opera scholarship competition.

She has sung a number of  roles with Opera Australia, including: MERCÉDÈS in Carmen; OLGA in The Merry Widow; SUZUKI in Madama Butterfly; CHERUBINO in The Marriage of Figaro (Tour); and THIRD LADY in The Magic Flute (Tour). For Opera Australia she has also been a chorus member in Carmen; Madama Butterfly and Turandot on Sydney Harbour; and in La Boheme; Faust; The Pearlfishers; The Magic Flute and Cavallieria Rusticana/Pagliacci.

With other companies, she has sung a number of chorus and solo roles: DAISY BATES in Daisy Bates at Ooldea; PUBLIC OPINION in Orphée aux Enfers; BALKIS in La Rencontre Imprévue; DINAH in Trouble in Tahiti; SYREN in King Arthur; LA SOEUR AINEE in Les Malheurs d’Orphée; FRAU REICH in Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor; MADAMA ROSA in Il Capanello di Notte; ANDRONICO in Tamerlano; MARIANNA in Il Signor Bruschino; MRS HERRING in Albert Herring; HEN in  The Cunning little Vixen (Sydney Chamber Opera) and The Best of G & S (Sydney Opera House).

Agnes was highly commended for the Joan Carden Award, 2011, and was the winner of this Award in 2012.

Agnes last performed with the Sydney University Graduate Choir in May 2014, when she sang works by Mozart and Michael Haydn.

The Choir is very much looking forward to welcoming you to our audience on Sunday 12th August at 3pm, at the Great Hall Sydney University. Tickets are available now at Eventbrite.

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Dawn Plasto interviews sound technician Greg Ghavalas

Quietly setting up ‘mikes’ around the choir and orchestra or sitting at the console at the anteroom in the Great Hall is our technician Greg Ghavalas.  Greg has been making our recordings for some years many of them first class. Dawn asks Greg some pointed questions to discover what makes him ‘tick’.

Q. Where were you born and did you come from a musical family?

A. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The family was not musical as such, but there was always music around. Mostly off gramophone records.

Q. Where were you educated?

A. I went to Florida Park High School and returned there to teach after I completed my Teaching Diploma with the Transvaal Education Department.  I have some university education, specialising in maths, applied maths and physics.  These are the subjects I taught to the upper level students.

Q. What career path did you follow?

A: I taught for two years, but the salary was so dismally low that I knew I would have to find a better paid vocation, if I was to ever marry and support a family.  These were the days at the dawn of commercial computing and this is the field that I entered.  I spent the next 40 years associated with computers and computer projects.

It was this skill that allowed us to emigrate to Australia in 1985 where I worked for a number of banks project managing major projects.

Q. You are married to Godelieve, a very talented organist. Where did you meet?

A. I used to be a keyboard player (read pianist in those days) in a rock and roll band.  Godelieve’s brother played the trumpet in the band.  I happened to mention to him one day that I was very fond of classical organ music.  He told me his sister was an organist – why don’t I come and meet her the next Sunday.  Four months later we were married.  We celebrated our 40th anniversary in February this year.

Q. Are you fond of music and if so who is your favourite composer?

A. I have always been associated with music in some form or other.  As a kid, I mostly liked the music of the 1930’s to 50’s.  After I met Godelieve, she educated me in the classics.  If I might be allowed to pick two of my favourites, they would be J.S Bach and Mozart (and Haydn).  My favourite genre is baroque.

Q. Recording Christopher Bowen’s An Australian War Requiem in the Town Hall in 2016 must have been a challenge. Perhaps you might like to tell us about that?

A. Although I spent sleepless nights worrying about this recording, it actually worked out to be less traumatic than I thought it was going to be.  The Town Hall technical staff were amazingly helpful.  I have recorded at other public venues where it seems that the staff are there to make your life difficult – not so at the Town Hall.  Everything was easy, everything was possible.  I do remember moments during the performance, sitting downstairs listening where I had tears in my eyes, I found the music so moving. I think Christopher has a wonderful creation there.

Q. Considering the many recordings you have made which has given you the most satisfaction?

A. I am very fond of string quartets and the opportunity to record a number of visiting overseas quartets at The City Recital Hall on behalf of Fine Music FM has certainly been the highlight of my recording efforts.  Notwithstanding this, although the Australian War Requiem had its challenges, I regard it as one of the best recordings I have made, ably assisted by Doug and my son and daughter  – the crew that are always there to help even though my son walked the City to Surf that same day after helping with the setup.

Q. When not recording what do you do for relaxation?

A. Recording is my relaxation.  It’s what I used to do to get away from complex computer projects.  Nowadays though, as I have retired from the workforce, it is my job.  So, apart from music, I love to read and have started growing vegetables.

Q. Can you tell us about your children? I understand one is a talented musician.

A. We have a son, Gethryn, and a daughter, Tamaryn.  Tamaryn is a flute player.  When we spent two years living in England, she was lucky enough to be taught by the first flautist of the London Philharmonic.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us and the benefits continue to this day.  Gethryn followed in his father’s footsteps and is involved in computer projects.  He has an Applied Statistics Masters Degree – I could never understand the stuff.

Q. Are you fond of reading if so what are you reading now?

A. Very fond of reading.  My reading is very catholic.  I read most things and almost exclusively fiction.  I have just finished Grahame Greene’s Stamboul Train.  I like medical thrillers and Michael Palmer is a favourite.  Christopher Reich is also on my popularity list.

Q. What was your connection with Grads. Did you find us or did we find you?

A. I assisted someone who recorded your concerts previously.  John Bowan subsequently got in touch with me and asked me if I could record their next concert.  I think he took a bit of a chance….  He has got in touch with me every year ever since.


Dawn Plasto




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