Sydney Sings is back in 2018!

The Sydney Sings … concert series returns to the Sydney Town Hall on  Remembrance Day, 11 November 2018, with a performance of An Australian War Requiem.

This original work, composed by contemporary Australian composer Christopher Bowen OAM, was first performed in August 2014 by the Sydney University Graduate Choir at the Sydney Town Hall to great acclaim. The deeply moving libretto written by Pamela Traynor draws on correspondence between mothers and their sons on the battlefield, and on historical fact. Together with the masterful musical composition, the AWR is a stunning piece that commemorates the anniversary of the Great War.

As part of the Sydney Sings series, the November 2018 performance provides an opportunity for choristers from across Sydney and NSW to join the Sydney University Graduate Choir, soloists and a full orchestra in performing the AWR at the Sydney Town Hall. Watch out in March/April for invitations to join the guest choir for this great event.

The Sydney Sings … series was initiated in 2007, and most recently included the performance of the Verdi Requiem in November 2017, where approximately 220 choristers including over 140 guest singers, a full 60 piece orchestra and four very fine soloists came together under the baton of Australian composer and music director Christopher Bowen, to perform the wonderful Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi. Having performed it previously to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, all involved were very keen to present this masterful work to Sydney audiences again.

Bowen is a great admirer of Verdi, in particular the Requiem, and brought great insight and understanding of its qualities to the performance.

Along with a large choir, the Requiem also requires an impressive sound from the orchestra, who did not disappoint. The orchestra sported 34 strings, with a six-person cello section and four double-basses, with Lizzie Jones as Concertmaster.  Special mention must be made of John Cran, Sydney’s legendary bassoonist, who added a page to his legend by leading the bassoon section on his ninetieth birthday!

Congratulations, John!  We look forward to many future engagements for John in our orchestra.

An outstanding quartet of four young soloists sang in the Requiem: Natalie Aroyan (soprano), a principal artist with Opera Australia, made her debut with the Grads;  Ashlyn Tymms (mezzo-soprano), winner of the 2015 Joan Carden Award, sponsored by the Choir, made another welcome appearance with us, as did Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass), two of our favourite male soloists.  They sang beautifully as individuals and as an ensemble, despite only coming together shortly before the performance.

The format of the Sydney Sings series means that there are not a lot of rehearsals that bring together the SUGC and guest choirs, the full orchestra and soloists under the one roof.  Many rehearsals are conducted with individual groups, with the all parts coming together as one tremendous musical jigsaw puzzle on the performance weekend. The success of this syncronisation is largely due to the hard work and talents of music director Christopher Bowen, whose masterful direction ensures that all parts are working in harmony and delivering an excellent performance.

Artistically, the performance was one of the Choir’s best.  Inspired by the terrific playing of our orchestra, the splendid singing of the soloists, and Bowen’s revelatory grasp of Verdi’s wonderful score, the Choir achieved a high standard.

As a chorister there is no greater thrill than bringing to life the ferocious power of the Dies Irea from the depths of the choral stands, living the threatening drama of the Tuba Mirum and then enjoying the impassioned beauty of the Agnus Dei. Performing such a work in the iconic Sydney Town Hall adds another level of thrill and excitement, particularly as we watch the seats fill and get ready to present a glorious choral work to our audience.

The concerts in the Sydney Sings series are a huge undertaking and are supported by generous corporate sponsors. In this case the Verdi Requiem was supported by Westfield and the City of Sydney, both of which ensured that the Choir was able to deliver an outstanding performance with fine musicians of great talent.

Since the New Year, CDs of this performance have arrived. The recording is excellent and will be on sale at our May 6th concert in the Great Hall, University of Sydney.

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Meet the Soloists for Mendelssohn’s Paulus

In preparation for the upcoming performance of Paulus, Mendelssohn’s rarely presented oratorio, at the Great Hall Sydney University on Sunday 10th December at 5pm, let’s meet the talented soloists who will be joining the Choir and Orchestra, under the baton of music director, Christopher Bowen OAM.

Concert tickets are available now here.

Anita Kyle, Soprano

An accomplished lyric soprano, Anita Kyle, has won many awards and accolades including. the National Operatic Aria, Music Teachers’ Assoc of NSW Vocal Scholarship, and was semi-finalist in the McDonalds’ Operatic Aria Scholarship and finalist in the 2MBS-FM Young Performer of the Year Award, ABC Young Performer Awards and the Joan Sutherland Scholarship.

Anita Kyle

Her roles include the 15 YEAR OLD in Lulu; FRASQUITA in Carmen; SOPHIE in Werther; both the SANDMAN and DEW FAIRY in Hansel and Gretel; PAPGENA in The Magic Flute; LIESCHEN in Bach’s Coffee Cantata and GOVERNESS in Orpheus and Eurydice.

Other performances include Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras (no.5), Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore, Casals’ El cant dels Ocells (The Song of the Birds), Jenkins’ The Armed Man, Haydn’s Mass no. 10 in C Major (Mass in a Time of War), Mozart`s Mass in C Minor, Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio, Jenkins’s Stella Natalis and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem).

Anita debuted with the Syd Uni Grad Choir in 2015 in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and returned to perform in CPE Bach’s Magnificat, Heinichen’s Mass No. 9 and Handel’s Messiah in 2016.

David Hidden, Bass

From a dusty underground gold store in Adelaide to a dripping scaffold high above Sydney Harbour, 2017 has been an eventful year for this Sydney-based baritone. Recent highlights include Barry Kosky’s triumphant production of Handel’s Saul for the Adelaide Festival, Pinchgut Opera’s Anacreon and Pygmalion (Rameau), Carmen on Sydney Harbour with Opera Australia, and Various People’s subterranean production of Orpheus Underground, performed in a colonial cellar under the centre of Adelaide City.

David Hidden

David greatly enjoys touring. He spent 2011-2016 taking Baroque opera around primary schools in NSW and beyond with the Musica Viva in Schools programme. In 2015 he toured the country as GUGLIEMO in Cosi fan Tutte (Co-Opera).

On the concert platform David has sung with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, with Bryn Terfel and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and with the Australia Ensemble, Canberra Symphony, Penrith Symphony, and the Willoughby Symphony. In 2015 David performed in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and in 2016 Messiah with the Sydney University Graduate Choir.


Maria Timofeeva, Mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-soprano Maria Timofeeva studied singing and acting at the St Petersburg Academy for Dramatic Art. She has performed in many of the prestigious halls of Russia and Europe.

Whilst still a soloist at the St. Petersburg Opera Company, Zazerkale, Maria began her career as a singing teacher. She now divides her time between solo singing engagements, and teaching private students and at MLC Burwood.



Tristan Entwistle, Baritone

Sydney born baritone Tristan Entwistle recently completed a Masters of Music Studies (Opera Performance) under the tutelage of Ms Maree Ryan AM at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he completed his Bachelor of Music (Performance), and where he was awarded the Bud Brown Memorial and Patricia Lucas Music Achievement Scholarships.

Tristan Entwistle

Working with Opera New England, Opera Projects Sydney, Penrith Symphony Orchestra, Operantics, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney, Sydney Conservatorium Opera and Opera Hunter, Tristan’s operatic roles include: ESCAMILLO in Carmen; PAPAGENO in Die Zauberflöte; GUGLIELMO in Così fan tutte; LEPORELLO in Don Giovanni; NARDO in La Finta Giardiniera; GIOVE in La Calisto; THE DRUNKEN POET/CORYDON in The Fairy Queen; EDMUND BERTRAM in Mansfield Park; BARONE DOUPHOL in La Traviata; DOTTOR GRENVIL in La Traviata; ELDER McLEAN in Susannah; DR FALKE in Die Fledermaus; OLD YUE in Chang’E and the Moon; and GUISEPPE PALMIERI in The Gondoliers;.

Tristan’s concert repertoire includes Stockhausen’s Luzifers Tanz (Australian premiere); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; Handel’s Messiah; Mozart’s Requiem; Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols; Bernstein’s Mass and Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

A founding member of Operantics, he was stage and music director for their 2016 double bill of The Telephone and Gentlemen’s Island (Australian premiere). As well as regularly performing with the company, he acts as Artistic Advisor.

His current engagements include performances of Handel’s Messiah with Radio Community Chest at the Sydney Town Hall, and with Penrith Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, Tristan will make his debut with Opera Australia in the chorus of Carmen. This is his first appearance with the Sydney University Graduate Choir and we are very pleased to welcome him our stage.

Andrew Goodwin, Tenor

Andrew Goodwin has appeared with orchestras and opera companies, including the Bolshoi Opera, Gran Theatre Liceu Barcelona, Teatro Real Madrid, La Scala Milan and Opera Australia, in Europe, the UK, Asia and Australia..

Andrew Goodwin

He has given many concert performances: he toured with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Maestro Temirkanov; he performed with the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; and he gave recitals with pianist Daniel de Borah at the Wigmore Hall. He has also appeared at numerous festivals, including the Oxford Lieder, Port Fairy, Huntington, Coriole, Canberra, and Australian International Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville.

Recent engagements have included: Bach’s Magnificat and the title role in The Rake’s Progress (Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra); Mozart’s Litaniae de Venerabili Altaris Sacramento (Sydney Symphony Orchestra); Lyle Chan’s My Dear Benjamin (Queensland Symphony Orchestra); Britten’s Serenade for Tenor and Horn (Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras); EGEO in Cavalli’s Giasone and FLORIVAL in Grétry’s L’Amant Jaloux (Pinchgut Opera); recitals with Daniel de Borah at the Melbourne Recital Centre; the EVANGELIST in Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Melbourne Bach Choir); a recital with pianist Mira Yevtich at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg; Degtyarev’s Russian oratorio Minin i Pojarsky (Moscow Chamber Orchestra); Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius at St John’s Smith Square, London; LENSKY in Eugene Onegin and TAMINO in The Magic Flute (Bolshoi Opera); Messiah (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society); and Bach’s B Minor Mass (The Song Company).

His 2017 engagements include: Biographica and The Rape of Lucretia (Sydney Chamber Opera); Wainwright’s Prima Donna (Adelaide Festival); EVANGELIST, St. John Passion (Melbourne Bach Choir); Mozart’s Requiem (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra); Dream of Gerontius and Messiah (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs); and appearances with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Australian Piano Quartet and at the Coriole Festival, South Australia, and the Adam Chamber Music Festival, New Zealand.

Andrew appeared with the Sydney University Graduate Choir in 2012 for its 60th anniversary concert, performing Mendelssohn’s oratorio Paulus, and in 2016 in Haydn’s Creation and Handel’s Messiah. This year he joined the Choir for its Belle Époque concert and Verdi’s Requiem.

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Final 2017 Concert, Mendelssohn’s Oratorio Paulus, Sunday 10th December, 5pm

The Sydney University Graduate Choir is delighted to be performing Mendelssohn’s first oratorio, the rarely performed St. Paul – or Paulus, in the original German, in which it will be sung.

A musical masterpiece, this work was one of the composer’s most often performed during his lifetime, but in recent times is not heard as often as it could be. Paulus revived the oratorio as a musical form, and subsequently led to a commission of Mendelssohn’s other great oratorio: Elijah.

Paulus tells the story of the life of the apostle Paul, and his conversion on the road to Damascus, the work is both dramatic and poetic.

Written at a time when Mendelssohn led the rediscovery of Bach’s great choral masterpieces, this work is also very much a tribute to Bach – albeit through the lens of a Romantic sensibility.

Five superb soloists – Anita Kyle (soprano), Maria Timofeeva (mezzo-soprano),  Andrew Goodwin (tenor), David Hidden (bass) and Tristan Entwistle (bass)  have been assembled to perform with the Sydney University Graduate Choir and orchestra under the baton of Music Director, Christopher Bowen, OAM.

It promises to be a wonderful musical experience, not to be missed.

The concert will be held at 5:00pm, Sunday, 10 December 2017 at the Great Hall, Sydney University. Tickets are now available at the Seymour Centre Box Office – ph 02 9351 7950 or here.

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Meet our music director, Christopher Bowen OAM

Sydney based composer/conductor Christopher Bowen OAM, is one of Australia’s most prolific composers and versatile musicians. As an orchestral/choral conductor his enormous repertoire embraces all genres of music. He is also known for his skills as an expert arranger, pianist, vocal coach and clinician, and is proficient in languages.

His striking and thought provoking compositions combined with innovative concert programming have introduced both audiences and performers to a unique and inspirational world of music.

Bowen was born in Melbourne and studied music at Melbourne University and the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien, where he studied conducting, piano and korrepetition. He has worked with many organisations including the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Opera Australia, the Victorian State Opera and has been a staff member of the Vienna and Sydney Conservatoriums.

His conducting repertoire embraces the major orchestral and choral works from the 16th century to contemporary music. Known for his imaginative and innovative concert programs, he has introduced audiences to many unjustly neglected works such as Mozart’s Thamos König in Ägypten   Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht and the extraordinary oratorio Paulus. He has conducted the Australian premieres of Beethoven’s Kantate auf den Tod Kaiser Josephs II, Saint-Saëns’ Le Déluge , Mass Opus 4 , Oratorio de Noel and Requiem, and Bruckner’s Requiem in D minor. The works of composers such as  Cherubini, C.P.E. Bach and the great bohemian composer  Jan Dismas Zelenka  have also been featured in concerts.

His considerable body of composition comprises many orchestral and choral works, instrumental and chamber music. He has also written two works, Nosferatu and Casablanca for the stage. His compositions and arrangements have received critical and public acclaim and have been broadcast on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation),the ORF (Austrian Radio) and Fine Music 102.5 and performed by orchestras such as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian National Orchestra.

In recent years major commissions have produced works such as Triste, Triste; Chorea; The Liberdade Requiem (dedicated to those who died whilst fighting for East Timor’s independence); the satirical Démocratie based on Arthur Rimbaud’s prose-poem; Tenebrae; and an extended setting of Christopher Brennan’s evocative poem Sweet Silence after Bells. In 2011 he was commissioned by the Sydney University Graduate Choir to compose Songs of the Heart which was dedicated to Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC AVO. The premiere of this work, a setting of five poems by Christopher Brennan was greeted with acclaim.

His most recent composition An Australian War Requiem was commissioned to commemorate the Centenary of World War 1 and the Anzac tradition. It received its premiere on August 10th 2014 in a performance given at the Sydney Town Hall which was acclaimed by critics and audience alike.

In 1997 a CD recording of his music was released by the Australian National Orchestra and Choir. Since then other CDs of his music and arrangements have been released, among them, For the Beauty of the Earth, Botany Bay and Beyond, A Touch of Heaven and Reflections. In 2011 a recording of Saint-Saëns’ Mass Opus 4 and motets was released featuring the Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir.

As part of his commitment to developing young artists, he was instrumental in establishing the Joan Carden Award for young singers which honours the name of one of Australia’s greatest sopranos.

He has also initiated the extremely popular and successful choral events “Sydney Sings Messiah” and “Sydney Sings Verdi Requiem” which take place in the magnificent Sydney Town Hall.

In 2008 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney in recognition of his contribution to its cultural life. That same year he also received the Stephen Lardner Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to adult education.

In 2009 he received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to music.

Christopher will be conducting the Sydney University Graduate Choir and Orchestra with Guest Choir in Sydney Sings Verdi Requiem this Sunday 12th November 3pm at Sydney Town Hall. For tickets and more information please click here.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors of Sydney Sings Verdi Requiem, Westfield and the City of Sydney.

For more information about Christopher, visit

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Meet the Verdi Requiem Soloists

The magnificent Verdi Requiem, performed by the Sydney University Graduate Choir, a large guest choir and full orchestra, under the baton of music director Christopher Bowen OAM, is coming to the Sydney Town Hall on Sunday 12th November 2017.

The Choir is delighted to have assembled a very talented group of soloists for this concert and we’d like to introduce you to them!

Armenian-Australian soprano Natalie Aroyan was awarded first place in both The Opera Foundation New York Competition and the Herald Sun Aria Competition in 2008. Subsequently, she studied with soprano Ruth Falcon, Maestro Richard Bonynge, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renata Scotto and Mirella Freni, and is now a principal artist with Opera Australia. Her roles with the company have included: MIMI (La bohème); DESDEMONA (Otello; MICAELA (Carmen); ANNINA (La Traviata); HIGH PRIESTESS (Aida); AMELIA GRIMALDI (Simon Boccanegra); MICAELA in Carmen for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, and the title role in Aida in Opera Australia’s premiere opera on the beach season on the Gold Coast.

Writing of her performance of the lead role of AMELIA in Simon Boccanegra, The Australian noted that her “voluptuous tone and fluid phrasing created a vivacious portrayal of the opera’s most appealing character.”  The Verdi Requiem is her debut with the Sydney University Graduate Choir.

Ashlyn Tymms, alto, has won numerous music awards and recently graduated as an HF Music Scholar at the Royal College of Music, attaining a Master’s of Performance with Distinction. Earlier this year, she performed as ROSIMONDA in Handel’s opera Faramondo with the Royal College of Music and the London Handel Festival conducted by Laurence Cummings and directed by William Relton. Other performances include staged scenes from Albert Herring, The Rape of Lucretia and The Turn of the Screw directed by John Copley at the Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music and the role of JUDITH in The Two Sisters, a new opera by Algirdas Kraunaitis.

Reviewing her performance in London earlier this year, The Financial Times remarked that she “provided glamour and a voice with colour and depth”.

Ashlyn has previously performed with the Choir as a soloist in the Dvorak Stabat Mater, CPE Bach’s Magnificat and Heinichen’s Missa Nr 9. She was also the winner of the 2015 Joan Carden Award, which is sponsored by the Choir.

Tenor Andrew Goodwin has appeared with opera companies in Europe, the UK, Asia and Australia, including the Bolshoi Opera, Gran Theatre Liceu Barcelona, Teatro Real Madrid, La Scala Milan and Opera Australia.

He has toured with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Maestro Temirkanov, performed with the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and given recitals with pianist Daniel de Borah at the Wigmore Hall, and at the Oxford Lieder, Port Fairy and Canberra International Music Festivals.

Recent engagements include Biographica with the Sydney Chamber Opera as part of the Sydney Festival, performances at the Adam Chamber Music Festival with the New Zealand Quartet, Bach’s Magnificat and the title role in The Rake’s Progress for Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra; Mozart’s Litaniae de venerabili altaris sacramento (Sydney Symphony Orchestra); Lyle Chan’s My Dear Benjamin (Queensland Symphony Orchestra); Britten’s Serenade for Tenor and Horn (Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras); Egeo in Cavalli’s Giasone and Florival in Grétry’s L’amant jaloux (Pinchgut Opera); recitals with Daniel de Borah at the Melbourne Recital Centre; the Evangelist in St Matthew Passion with the Melbourne Bach Choir; as well as featuring at Musica Viva’s Huntington Festival and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville.

Adrian Tamburini, bass, is one of the most promising young Australian singers today, as recognized by his winning the prestigious YMF Australia Award and the Armstrong-Martin Scholarship at the 2017 Opera Awards.

Recent engagements for Opera Australia have included: ALCINDORO and BENOIT in Gale Edwards’ production of La bohème; LEPORELLO in Don Giovanni (touring throughout Australia); ZUNIGA (Carmen); ANTONIO (The Marriage of Figaro); SCIARRONE (Tosca); THE SPEAKER (The Magic Flute); PIETRO (Simon Boccanegra); THE COOK (The Love for Three Oranges); and THE MAESTRO (The Eighth Wonder). His concert repertoire includes the Mahler Symphony No.8 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No.13 (‘Babi Yar’).

He has performed with the Choir on numerous occasions, including the world premiere of Christopher Bowen’s An Australian War Requiem.

Tickets for the Sydney Sings … Verdi Requiem are now available at

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Sydney Chamber Opera’s Rape of Lucretia

Sydney Chamber Opera’s production of Britten’s Rape of Lucretia at Carriageworks offered an opportunity to showcase the splendid talents of a number of the outstanding young soloists the Choir has worked with in recent years.

Anna Dowsley (mezzo), who performed in our Verdi Requiem of April 2013 and a number of subsequent performances, sang the title role. Celeste Lazarenko (soprano), who co-starred with Anna in Verdi’s masterpiece, sang the important role of the Female Chorus. Andrew Goodwin (tenor), who was a very impressive soloist in our performance of Mendelssohn’s Paulus in May 2012 and will repeat his performance in December, was the Male Chorus and Simon Lobelson (bass), who is a regular soloist with Sydney Chamber Opera and performed most recently with SUGC in May this year, sang the role of Junius.

The vocal quality of the soloists was the best feature of the performance.  Britten’s music is far from easy and the difficulty for the singers was compounded by the production’s design, which had the orchestra and conductor behind the stage and out of their sight. Despite this, they performed flawlessly, without missing a beat.  Reviews have been constantly favourable.  Peter McCallum in the SMH, wrote that the performances were “consistently strong” and praised Anna’s “ringing rounded purity of sound”, Celeste’s “engaged communicativeness”, the “splendid noble bloom” to Andrew’s sound, and Simon’s “expressive darkness and well-moulded sound.”

All in all, despite some eccentricities in the production, your correspondent enjoyed the opera and could not avoid a feeling of smugness that the Choir has established excellent working relationships with these outstanding young singers.

John Bowan

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Sing On Report – Joan Carden Award 2017 Final Concert

On 13 August, the Choir presented for the second time the finals of the Joan Carden Award as part of a Great Hall concert with orchestra, in tandem with a performance of Mozart’s Requiem.

It is always a pleasure and privilege for choristers to sit on the risers, while others perform, and in this case, the three young finalists each sang two arias, one each by Mozart and others by Gounod, Massenet and Meyerbeer. Your correspondent had the afternoon off – on the basis of a dodgy doctor’s note – and enjoyed the entire concert as a member of the audience. It was a beauty.

In a week when the Korean bass, Kwangchun Youn, was giving a remarkable performance as Gurnemanz in Opera Australia’s Parsifal, it was particularly appropriate that two of the three finalists, Barbara Jin (mezzo) and Haotian Xi (baritone) were of Asian background.   These two singers were joined by Joshua Oxley (tenor) in a close, artistically high quality competition for the judges’ approval. On this occasion, great soprano Joan Carden AO OBE and Christopher Bowen OAM, the Choir’s Music Director, were assisted by distinguished Australian baritone, Geoffrey Chard AM.

The arias performed by the young singers were ambitious and challenging.  Mozart can appear straightforward but has that “nowhere to hide” dimension.  The French romantic repertoire required vocal power and pyrotechnics.  The performances were all of high quality and the judging must have been very close and difficult.  The judges awarded the first prize of $6,000 to Joshua Oxley, while the audience’s choice was Barbara Jin.  Congratulations to all three contestants.

As a member of the audience in a packed Great Hall, which included our esteemed Patron, Prof. The Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, I was struck by the evidence of high level organization that had clearly gone into the event.  This was far beyond what might ordinarily be expected from a volunteer operation. It was a credit to Jackie Rotenstein and the Committee and especially to David Moser, closely assisted by Inta Heimanis, who had the task of putting it all together, and had the opportunity to draw on the pioneering work done by Cath Crittenden, who managed the 2015 edition.  The Choir can be very proud of what it has achieved through the Joan Carden Award.

In August 2015, the last (and first) time the Choir presented the Joan Carden Award in its new, expanded form, the concert program was rounded out by choral works by Brahms and Fanny Mendelssohn that were new to practically all of us.  On this occasion, the concert program was rounded out by a performance of one of the most familiar works in the choral repertoire, Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, K.626.

Four fine soloists were engaged and did an excellent job: Morgan Balfour (soprano), Anna Yun (mezzo), John Longmuir (tenor), and David Greco (bass).  By a nice coincidence, Morgan was the winner of the audience vote in the 2015 Joan Carden Award final.

As usual, the orchestra was outstanding.  Kirsten Williams, who had been busy with the SSO’s recent exceptional performances of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Mahler’s Third Symphony, was Concertmaster and was supported by lovely woodwind playing from Deborah de Graaff (clarinet), Duncan Thorpe (oboe) and Leah Lock.  This concert with its requirement for the orchestra to switch rapidly between different styles was a further reminder of how fortunate the Choir is in its talented orchestral musicians.

Your correspondent is normally reluctant to offer warm praise for the Choir.  But let me throw modesty to the winds and say that the Grads’ contribution was first-class and was commented on positively by a number of fellow-audience members with whom I spoke.

John Bowan

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Meet the 2017 Joan Carden Award Finalists!

This Sunday, 13th August, sees the Finals of the 2017 Joan Carden Award take place in the University Of Sydney’s Great Hall at 3pm. Details here. The 2017 Finals feature three wonderful young soloists – Haotian Qi, Joshua Oxley and Barbara Jin.

Baritone Haotian Qi began his music studies when he was 6 years old. He graduated with a bachelor degree from Nanjing university of Arts.

He has won numerous and awards to date, including: First Prize in the Theodor Leschetizky International Music Competition, Vienna (2015); First Prize in the Belloc International Opera Competition, China (2015); Special Prize in Jiangsu Art Performance for Undergraduates, China (2014); a Gold Award at the La Fenice International Opera Competition of Vocal Performance (2013); First Prize in the 4th Zhongke Cup Music Performance and Creation Competition, China (2013); Award for Creative Achievement in Nanjing University of the Arts (2013); Gold Award for Vocal Performance in the 3rd National Art Performance for Undergraduates, China (2012); and the Silver Award in the 5th National Opera Performance for Undergraduates, China (2011).

He is currently in the first year of a masters degree in Opera Performance at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and is studying singing with Barry Ryan.

In the finals Haotian will be performing ‘Hai gia vinta la causa’ from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and ‘Vision fugitive’ from Massenet‘s Hérodiade.

Tenor Joshua Oxley is based in Sydney, and has studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he won a full scholarship to the prestigious ESTIVO Summer School in Verona, Italy. Under this scholarship he studied singing with Lella Cuberli and Fabio Centanni. He has been tenor soloist for St. Andrew’s Cathedral (Handel’s, Messiah; Bach’s, Cantata Nos. 4, 80 and 115), and other solo concert performances include Mozart ‘s Requiem; Bach’s St John Passion; Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, and Bernstein’s Mass.

Joshua has performed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the role of TCHAPLITSKY in Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame under Vladimir Ashkenazy, and as a member of the ensemble for Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer under David Robertson. Other appearances include: a concert performance of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust  with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis; ALFREDO (La Traviata) for Opera New England; the role of MOZART in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri; REMENDADO (Carmen); and FREDERIC in the Pirates of Penzance.

At the Sydney Eisteddfod, Joshua has twice been the recipient of the Ronald Dowd Memorial Prize, Finalist in the Opera and Arts Vocal Final, and Semi-finalist in the Opera Scholarship. Currently he is studying with Rowena Cowley, completing a postgraduate diploma at the Sydney Conservatorium, and is an associate artist with Pacific Opera.

Joshua will be performing ‘Un’ aura amorosa’ from Mozart’s Così fan tutte and ‘Ah! Lève-toi, soleil!’ from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.

Mezzo-soprano Barbara (Yuanyuan) Jin graduated from the Opera Studio at the Sydney Conservatorium of music, where she studied with Maree Ryan. She is a recipient of the Diane Wishart and Quin Quin Foundation scholarships, and is in the 2017 Young Artist Program with Pacific Opera.

Barbara’s opera credits include: MERCEDES (Carmen): LA BADESSA, LA SUORA ZELATRICE and LA SUORA INFERMIERA (Suor Angelica); MISS FITZHENRY, LADY JERSEY and SECOND NUN (Williamson’s English Eccentrics); and DAWN’S ATTENDANT, MOPSA and SECRECY (The Fairy Queen). Barbara has also appeared in the ensemble for Adamo’s Little Women, Bernstein’s Mass at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, and in the premiere of Geoffroy Colson’s opera Ui no Fa’aoe.

In 2016, Barbara performed the role of DORABELLA in performances of Cosí fan tutte at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music conducted by Stephen Mould. Other more recent roles have included MRS MCLEAN in Susannah (Floyd) with Opera New England and the lead role of ANGELINA (La Cenerentola) with Lyric Opera Studio Weimar.

Barbara’s concert repertoire includes: The ‘Nelson’ Mass (Haydn), Messiah (Handel), Symphony No.9 (Beethoven) and Stabat Mater (Rossini).

In the finals Barbara will be performing ‘Nobles Seigneurs, salut!’ from Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer and ‘Parto, parto’ from Mozart’s La Clemenza Di Tito.

For full details of the concert, during which the Sydney University Graduate Choir will perform Mozart’s Requiem, please click here.

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Anna Dowsley and Andrew Goodwin Star at Coriole Music Festival

Anna Dowsley

Two of the Grads’ favourite soloists, Anna Dowsley (mezzo) and Andrew Goodwin (tenor) recently played starring roles at the annual Coriole Music Festival in McLaren Vale, South Australia.  Anthony Steel, who has directed a number of Adelaide Festivals, reprised his role as Director of this year’s festival.

Anna starred in our memorable Verdi Requiem in April 2013, after being highly commended by the judges in the 2012 Joan Carden Award, and has sung with us on several other occasions, most recently in the von Suppé Requiem in May 2016.  Andrew has performed with us on several occasions, including Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s The Creation in late 2016, and our most recent concert, ‘La Belle Ėpoque’ on 21 May.

At Coriole, Anna sang Mahler’s Rṻckert Lieder, while Andrew performed Ravel’s Histoires Naturelles, among other solo numbers. Together, they performed Janáček’s fascinating unstaged drama, The Diary of One Who Disappeared. This was the first time that these two fine young singers have performed together.

They both received good reviews for their performances at Coriole.

Andrew Goodwin

On the Janáček, The Australian commented that “tenor Andrew Goodwin gave this with the most intimate emotion, but the high point was when mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley joined with total conviction to sing the role of the gypsy seductress who leads a farmer’s son to despair.”

The Adelaide Advertiser wrote that the Ravel songs were “beautifully sung” by tenor Andrew Goodwin” and that Anna “impressed” in the Rṻckert Lieder.

Andrew’s Russian wife, Maria Timofeyeva, who sang the mezzo solo in our performance of Mendelssohn’s Paulus in May 2012, was also at Coriole for the festival.  The Australian reported, “to cap off a superb weekend of music-making, the audience was treated over lunch to an impromptu Russian duet sung by Goodwin and his wife, mezzo-soprano Maria Timofeyeva.  This was one of those special moments that make small festivals such as Coriole really shine”.

John Bowan


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Meet the Composers of La Belle Époque, Part 2

The golden age of French artistic creativity, ‘la belle époque’, is the setting for the first concert of the 2017 season for the Sydney University Graduate Choir on the 21st May 2017. In this final instalment in a two part series, we’ll meet the composers Franck, Bowen and the poetic genius Rimbaud.

La Belle Époque, the first Sydney University Graduate Choir concert for 2017 offers a French themed programme drawing on the time between the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Marked by optimism, prosperity and technological, scientific and cultural innovation, this period came to be regarded as a Golden Age when artistic pursuits flourished.

At the end of our first instalment we met the composer Gabriel Fauré, whose Racine Canticle was dedicated to the third composer on our program, César Franck. Franck composed a setting of Psalm 150 (in French, Psaume CL), the piece to be performed in the La Belle Époque concert.

Franck (1822-90) became a French citizen and artist, having been born in Liège, now the largest French-speaking city of Belgium.  There is an established tradition of Belgian artists achieving fame and fortune in France (Georges Simenon, author of the series of novels about the archetypically Parisian Maigret is  a good twentieth century example, as are the popular singer Jacques Brel, the  artist René Magritte and cartoonist Prosper Remi, known as Hergé, creator of the marvellous Tintin comics). By the later part of his life, Franck had achieved a successful career as a Frenchman and became an influential figure with younger French composers.

In the last decade of his life, Franck produced several masterpieces, which represent the best part of his legacy: the piano solo, Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, the Piano Quintet, the Violin Sonata, the Symphony in D Minor, the symphonic poem, Le Chasseur Maudit, the Variations Symphoniques for piano and orchestra and the oratorio, Les Béatitudes.

The Psalm 150, to be performed in concert by the Grad Choir, was composed in 1883 but published posthumously. It conveys a sense of joyous celebration, appropriate to its text, and has something of the spirit of La Marseillaise about it.

The final work of the concert is not by a French composer.  It is a setting of the hair-raising prose poem, Démocratie, one of the constituent parts of Les Illuminations, the major work of the teenage evil genius, Arthur Rimbaud, and is composed by the Choir’s Music Director, Christopher Bowen OAM. This work was premiered by the Grad Choir in 2002, and now finds itself in the La Belle Époque concert programme given the text and its author.

Rimbaud (1854-1891) lived one of the most astonishing lives of any figure in world literature.  He had written his entire body of work by the time he was twenty-one and spent the rest of his short life travelling in Southeast Asia and Africa, where, among other things, he became a gun-runner.

In Démocratie, Rimbaud imagines a political world that reflects many aspects our modern political landscape, which is an amazing achievement for a French teenager writing before 1900.

Bowens’ musical imagination is clearly ignited by this remarkable text and the score is marked by frequent changes of tempo, syncopation, swinging rhythms and a choral part that ranges from whispered injunctions to shouts of defiance.

Sydney based composer/conductor Christopher Bowen OAM, is one of Australia’s most prolific composers and versatile musicians. As an orchestral/choral conductor he has an enormous repertoire, embracing all genres of music. He is also known for his skills as an expert arranger, pianist, vocal coach and clinician, and is proficient in languages.

Over the years, his striking and thought provoking compositions combined with innovative concert programming have introduced both audiences and performers to a unique and inspirational world of music.

The Choir is delighted to be performing his stirring composition, and importantly, the performance marks the 25th anniversary of Christopher Bowens’ appointment as Musical Director of the Sydney University Graduate Choir.


Enjoy La Belle Époque with the Sydney University Graduate Choir!

WHEN:  3:00pm, Sunday, 21 May 2017

WHERE:  The Great Hall, Sydney University

Music Director:

Christopher Bowen OAM


Elke Hook (Soprano)

Barbara Jin (Alto)

Andrew Goodwin (Tenor)

Simon Lobelson (Bass)


Peter Kneeshaw


Démocratie – Christopher Bowen

Requiem – Camille Saint-Saëns

Psalm 150 – César Franck

Pavane – Gabriel Fauré


$50 Adults

$45 Full Pensioners (Not seniors cards)

$25 Full time students and children under 16 years.

TICKETS: Seymour Centre Box Office – ph 02 9351 7950 or online

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