One of the choir’s valued volunteers is second soprano Janine Newell who has supervised refreshments for the Orchestra and Soloists at rehearsals and concerts for more than five years This is no easy task as it involves the purchase of provisions and the carrying of equipment to and from the venues. Janine’s busy life is catching up with her so she is putting the tea towel away and handing the baton to alto Giselle Cooke who will be assisted by Sue Capon who has always been Janine’s little helper.
Q. Where were you born and do you come from a musical family
A. I was born at Sydney’s Crown Street Women’s Hospital and yes, my parents and sister all sang and my 2 uncles attended The Sydney Conservatorium of Music. There was always music in our home.
Q. What school did you attend and did they have music
A. I attended high school in Sydney , but sadly, in the 1950’s, Music and Art were classified as ‘half subjects’ but I was a member of the School Choir and sang in the Choral Concerts at The Sydney Town Hall and on two occasions as a soloist which led to Lindley Evans asking me to sing on his segment of The ABC Children’s Hour. Meanwhile I studied piano lessons, privately.
Q. What career path did you follow.
A. When I left school I did secretarial studies and became a legal secretary.
Q. Was your husband musical and what of your daughters.
A. My husband did not perform music but had a great appreciation of good music and our daughters did learn music and were also involved in School Bands and Choirs.
Q. Your involvement with the Welsh Choir . Do you have Welsh blood or do you just like the music they sing.
A. My parents and sister were born in Scotland but I was asked to join the Welsh Choir in 1997 by a friend from a former choir and I have enjoyed the challenge of learning and memorising Welsh but consider music is the universal language and have enjoyed this experience.
Q. Tell us about your travels or perhaps what place gave you the greatest pleasure.
A. Most of my travel has been with The Sydney Welsh Choir and we have sung in many wonderful Cathedrals in Europe and castles in Wales. It is very hard to choose between the many wonderful places in Europe but a workshop in Vienna was memorable.
Q. What led you to the Sydney University Choir and what music do you enjoy singing.
A. When The City of Sydney Choir disbanded in 1990, Devon Szentkuti, a fellow chorister of that Choir encouraged me to join Sydney University Choir, so after my husband died in 1993, I rang Devon and she accompanied me to join in 1994 where I have been privileged to learn so much from Christopher Bowen, learning the music he selects and enjoying the camaraderie of fellow choristers.
Interviewer: Dawn Plasto