GONDWANA NATIONAL CHOIRS

Established by Lyn Williams OAM in 1997, Gondwana National Choirs are truly national ensembles whose members come from throughout Australia and range in age from 10 – 26. They are the children of dairy farmers and miners, teachers and doctors, engineers, office workers and musicians. They perform music that is close to their hearts: new Australian works which capture the mystery and grandeur of our land and display the cultural diversity of the Australian people. The work of the choirs is a powerful expression of the determination of young Australians to work together to create extraordinary musical ensembles.

They form every January for intensive training and performances across 4 or 5 vocal ensembles with leading national and international conductors at the Gondwana National Choral School, which includes programs for developing composers and conductors. The sound of Gondwana National Choirs is vibrant and energetic, indicative of their intensive rehearsal process and the joy of being together.

Gondwana Voices, Australia’s national children’s choir, regularly performs with the country’s leading ensembles. It tours nationally and internationally and has taken part in international choral festivals including the World Choral Symposium, Rotterdam; America Cantat, Mexico City; Polyfollia, Normandy; and Festival 500, Newfoundland. In 2007 Gondwana Voices was the first Australian children’s choir to perform at the BBC Proms. They undertook a tour to the Eastern Kimberley in 2013 and completed a residency at the Taipei International Choral Festival in 2014.

Australia’s national youth choir, Gondwana Chorale, was established in 2008 and has performed nationally in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tasmania, and at the Four Winds Festival in Bermagui. International tours have included New Zealand (2011) and UK and France (2013). In 2015 the choir formed the Gondwana Centenary Chorale with young singers from and Turkey, France and New Zealand to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, giving the world premiere of James Ledger’s War Music with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Gondwana National Choral School is the premiere choral experience in Australia, bringing together singers, composers and conductors from across Australia. When all these talented young people come together in January for an inspirational and intensive two week season, the results are extraordinary!

Gondwana National Choral School has provided me with some of my fondest memories; there are so many wonderful things about this program that I love, but what I most look forward to is the common goal that people of Gondwana Choirs share – to sing, learn, and be inspired by choral music at the highest level.
2015 Gondwana National Choral School Participant

It’s that exciting time of year when all offers for National Choral School 2016 have gone out and you can start organising your travel plans to Sydney in January. Tickets are now on sale to the National Choral School Concerts, which return to the Concourse in Chatswood for 2016. To find out more, click here

Watch Felix Riebl talking about the background for Spinifex Gum – a song cycle

Listen to Gondwana Chorale members talking what to expect in the final concerts

The Gondwana National Choirs Program for young singers from across Australia aged 10-25 creates five choirs including Gondwana Chorale, Gondwana Voices, Gondwana Cantique, Gondwana Singers and Junior Gondwana. These choirs receive international-acclaim and will go on to perform locally and internationally throughout the year.

The structure of our national choral program is becoming increasingly flexible, so that the number and profile of the choirs will differ from year to year depending on the upcoming projects and tours, and the ages of suitable applicants.

Gondwana Chorale

Gondwana Chorale is the national choir for young men and women aged 17-25. Many of these choristers sing professionally around Australia and bring a wealth of choral experience to the SATB ensemble.

In 2016, Gondwana Chorale is conducted by Principal Guest Conductor Paul Holley, Associate Director of Birralee Voices and Head of the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Carl Crossin OAM.

Gondwana Voices

Founded in 1997, Gondwana Voices is Australia’s national choir for treble singers aged 10-17. The ensemble has built an international reputation for performances of outstanding musicianship, specializing in contemporary Australian repertoire. The choir has premiered works by Brett Dean, Ross Edwards and Paul Stanhope.

In 2016, Gondwana Voices will be conducted by Principal Guest Conductor, Mark O’Leary, Artistic Director of the Young Voices of Melbourne and Artistic Director of Young Adelaide Voices, Christie Anderson.

Gondwana Singers

Gondwana Singers is an SATB choir for singers aged 13 – 17 including boys with changed or changing voices. The choir is establishing a reputation as a fine secondary school aged ensemble that tackles a wide variety of challenging repertoire with courage and aplomb.

In 2016, the choir will be conducted by Liz Scott, Musical Director of Sydney Philharmonia’s Youth Choir Vox, and Rowan Johnston from Westlake Girls High School, Auckland.

Junior Gondwana

Junior Gondwana is a choir for young people aged 10 – 13 who love to sing and show strong musical potential. The choir develops choral skills such as intonation, rhythmic skills and sight-reading through diverse and challenging repertoire. For many young singers, Junior Gondwana is the beginning of a lifelong musical journey.

The Junior Gondwana season commences on Wednesday 13 January 2015, and is led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Jarman and Kate Albury, Choral Director at Brisbane Grammar School and Conductor of the “Con Chorus” at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Gondwana Cantique

In 2014 and 2015, Gondwana Cantique was formed to cater for an abundance of talented young upper voices. The ensemble established its unique offering as part of National Choral School, creating richly hewn vocal texture to explore music both classical and contemporary genres. 2016 will be a year of focused preparation for the significant international tours in 2017. If the appropriate number of suitably talents singers are identified at auditions, Gondwana Cantique will again form part of National Choral School in 2016.

Cost

$1,500

The participation fee includes accommodation and meals on campus, excursions, ground transfers, t-shirt, music and tuition. Please note that return transport from each chorister’s home to Sydney airport at the beginning and end of the season and travel insurance are not included.

Gondwana Choirs brings together the finest choral conductors from across Australia to form the artistic team for National Choral School. The Gondwana Conducting Academy, run in association with the University of Queensland, allows conductors to take their skills to the next level. By observing the National Choirs at work, participants see a range of technique and approach from upper primary through to mature semi-professional singers. Fundamental to the structure of the Academy is the group and individual tuition provided by the director, Graeme Morton AM. A senior figure in the Australian choral landscape, Graeme is known for the accessibility of his conducting instruction, providing both plenary sessions and individual lessons to focus on building specific skills. Participants have the opportunity to conduct in masterclasses with guests artists: in 2016, we welcome Dr Brady Allred, Artistic Director of the Salt Lake Choral Artists.

Cost

$1,500

The participation fee includes accommodation and meals on campus, excursions, ground transfers, t-shirt, music and tuition. Please note that return transport from each participant’s home to Sydney airport at the beginning and end of the season and travel insurance are not included.

Established in 2011, Gondwana Composer School is a unique opportunity for young composers to immerse themselves in the choral world of Australia’s finest ensembles for young singers. The Composer School is an integral part of National Choral School, a fortnightly residential experience in Sydney. Participants have the opportunity to observe the National Choirs in rehearsal, talking to the artistic staff and choristers to understand how the ensembles work. This is complemented by the intensive tuition from the directors, who are established compositional pedagogues who specialise in writing for choirs. Participants are allocated to one choir to write for and spend the first week focusing on developing a short work for this. At the conclusion of the first week, after the choirs have rehearsed their works, the composers have the chance to hear their pieces in an in-house concert attended by over 300 participants.

The Directors of the Composer School for 2016 will be announced shortly.

Cost

$1,500

The participation fee includes accommodation and meals on campus, excursions, ground transfers, t-shirt, music and tuition. Please note that return transport from each participant’s home to Sydney airport at the beginning and end of the season and travel insurance are not included.

Audition to take part in our 20th Anniversary tours in 2017!

2017 will mark the 20th Anniversary of Gondwana National Choirs. To celebrate this milestone Gondwana Choirs will launch two International tours!

Participating choristers will have two National Choral School seasons to prepare for these tours; ample time to be artistically and financially prepared.

GONDWANA CHORALE – USA TOUR 2017

Gondwana Choirs is thrilled to announce the upcoming Gondwana Chorale USA Tour in February 2017. Under the direction of Paul Holley and Carl Crossin OAM, the choir will present a program featuring commissioned Australian works. In addition to performances in leading venues on both West and East Coasts, the tour will feature collaborations with leading university’s and young adult choirs and a masterclass with a leading choral conductor. Choristers who are successful in gaining a place in Gondwana Chorale in 2016 will commit to a two year membership with the choir.

GONDWANA VOICES – EUROPE TOUR 2017

In July 2017, select members of Gondwana Voices will tour Europe. This enriching experience will include exclusive performances at some of the world’s most prestigious venues. We are currently planning performances in Italy, Germany, France and the UK, where we have already secured an invitation to sing at Westminster Abbey. Choristers who are successful in gaining a place in Gondwana Voices in 2016 will commit to a two year membership with the choir.

PREVIOUS TOURS 2015 Tours and Performances

In April 2015, singers from Gondwana Chorale joined with choristers from Turkey, France and New Zealand in a project to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli Landings with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. This moving musical tribute featured the Australian premiere of a new orchestral work by James Ledger. Also in 2015, Gondwana Voices toured to Melbourne to perform at Choralfest, and tenors and basses from Gondwana Singers joined with Sydney Children’s Choir Young Men’s Choir on a tour to Tasmania to perform as a featured choir at Festival of Voices.

Gondwana Voices Taiwan Tour (2014)

In 2014, members of Gondwana Voices toured to Taiwan to undertake a residency at the 2014 Taipei International Choral Festival, which is one of the largest choral festivals in Asia. Gondwana Chorale United Kingdom and France Tour (2013) In 2013, Gondwana Chorale toured to the United Kingdom and France, with featured recitals in St Paul’s Cathedral and St John’s Smith Square in London and La Madeleine in Paris.

Gondwana Voices Kimberley Tour (2013)

The Gondwana Voices 2013 Kimberley Tour had a strong focus on community engagement and cultural learning, with the choir travelling to the remote and ruggedly beautiful Kimberley region. For this tour, Gondwana Choirs commissioned prominent Western Australian composer James Ledger to write a children’s choral opera based on the Gija Culture, whose people reside in the Kimberley region.

Gondwana Voices China Tour (2012)

In 2012, The International Federation for Choral Music invited Gondwana Voices to represent the Asia-Pacific region at the 2012 World Choral Summit in Beijing, China. Only five choirs, one from each continent were invited to take part in this prestigious world event which was attended by conductors, composers, and publishers from more than 80 countries.

Gondwana Chorale New Zealand Tour (2011)

The Gondwana Chorale tour to New Zealand in 2011 included a residential season with the world class New Zealand Youth Choir. The choir also performed with the Westlake Girls and Westlake Boys High Schools, two of New Zealand’s premier youth choirs. Gondwana Chorale also travelled to Wellington to perform at the internationally renowned Te Papa Museum.

Gondwana Voices USA and Canada Tour (2011)

The Gondwana Voices 2011 USA and Canada Tour included performances with some of the world’s finest children’s choirs including North West Girl Choir in Seattle and the Toronto Children’s Chorus.

As part of our National Audition Tour, Gondwana Choirs travels to the following locations:

  • Brisbane – Saturday, September 19th
  • Rockhampton – Saturday, September 19th
  • Armidale – Saturday, September 19th
  • Adelaide – Sunday, September 20th
  • Hobart – Sunday, September 20th
  • Canberra – Saturday, September 26th
  • Perth – Saturday, September 26th
  • Darwin – Saturday, September 26th
  • Sydney – Friday, October 2nd; Saturday, October 3rd; Sunday, October 4th
  • Melbourne – Sunday, October 4th
  • Toowoomba – Monday, October 5th
  • Cairns – Saturday, October 10th

HOW TO APPLY

Live Auditions

Nationwide auditions will be held in late September to October 2015. Auditions will be granted for all applicants received and the audition is designed to give applicants a chance to demonstrate their singing ability and other musical skills. Everyone has strengths in different areas and we recognize this fact in the audition process. We will expect applicants’ skills to develop from year to year. A high standard of aural skills and sight singing is expected for entry into Gondwana Chorale and Gondwana Voices.

Audiovisual (AV) Auditions

AV Auditions are accepted from applicants who live further than 200km away from their closest audition venue. You will need to engage a facilitator (e.g. music teacher) to run and record the audition for you. Your recording should be uploaded onto Vimeo.

The final date for the receipt of all recorded auditions is 5pm, Friday 18 September 2015

Application Fee

A non-refundable application fee of $50 (GST not applicable) is due with the submission of your application. Applications received without the application fee will not be reviewed.

Application Documents

All applicants (choristers, composer and conductors) will be asked to submit a recent headshot, the name and contact information for 1 referee, and a brief summary of their musical background (choral, instrumental, composing, conducting as applicable).

Composer School applicants are also asked to submit an example of their choral composition writing from the last 12 months to ncs@gondwanachoirs.com.au

National Choirs Audition Preparation

Choristers will be asked to sing one song (preferably by an Australian composer) or an excerpt of a song lasting up to two minutes, from memory. Your song may be performed with or without live accompaniment (if required, applicants must provide their own accompanist). Recorded accompaniment is permitted for audio visual auditions only.

You will be asked to take an aural test including melodic memory, part-singing and sight-singing.

Please do not sing a song you have sung previously to audition for Gondwana Choirs.

Successful applicants will be offered a position in the choir most suited to their voice type, age and musical development.

Please note: Composer School and Conducting Academy applicants do not need to attend an audition.

Practice Materials

Applicants are encouraged to utilize the following practice materials to prepare for their audition. These materials are based on last year’s audition, and will provide a good understanding of the process.

2015 Practice Audition Materials

National Choral School

Gondwana National Choral School is the premiere choral experience in Australia, bringing together singers, composers and conductors from across Australia. When all these talented young people come together in January for an inspirational and intensive two week season, the results are extraordinary!

In 2016, National Choral School will run from January 11 – 24 and will place over 300 of Australia’s finest young singers, composers and conductors with Australia’s leading choral conductors.

The opportunities that result from participation in National Choral School flow throughout the year, with varied performance and touring opportunities for selected choristers.

In 2016, Gondwana Voices and Gondwana Chorale will begin their preparation for their international tours in 2017. These choirs will work intensively towards tours to Europe (July 2017, Gondwana Voices) and the USA (February 2017, Gondwana Chorale) with prestigious performance opportunities in the pipeline.

The Gondwana National Choirs will present two performances at the conclusion of National Choral School at The Concourse, Chatswood on January 23, 2016.

Supervision

Gondwana Choirs is committed to the duty of care of our choristers. All choristers under the age of 18 are cared for by an experienced team of adult staff and supervisors (many of whom are parents of choristers) for every Gondwana season.

All choristers should understand that they will be staying away from their families and homes whilst at National Choral School. Parents are welcome to attend the public concerts and Open Day at National Choral School, but choristers must be independent of their parents during the season. Our supervisors are experienced in dealing with homesickness and all choristers are made to feel welcome at National Choral School.

Internship Opportunities

Gain invaluable experience in arts administration by joining our operations team for a 2-week internship. You will contribute to the organisation of a wide range of activities and gain hands-on work experience, alongside top industry professionals. Email us with your CV, at ncs@gondwanachoirs.com.au

FAQ

National Choral School offers an intensive two weeks of rehearsals, performances and workshops with the leading figures in Australian choral music. National Choral School includes our five national choirs, as well as a Conducting Academy and Composer School.

National Choral school is based at Macquarie University, with participants in residence at Dunmore Lang College. NCS takes place for two weeks each January.

Gondwana National Choirs comprises five ensembles that form during our annual National Choral School in January.
Gondwana Voices is Australia’s internationally renowned children’s choir for treble singers aged 10-17.

Gondwana Chorale is our national choir for young men and women aged 18 -25.

Gondwana Singers is an SATB choir for singers aged 14-17, including boys with newly changed or changing voices.

Junior Gondwana is a choir for young people aged 10-13 who show strong musical potential.

Gondwana Cantique was established in 2014 to cater for young female voices aged 17 – 25.

Gondwana Voices and Gondwana Chorale reform during the year for special projects, such as national and international touring and concert seasons.

The Gondwana Conducting Academy, run in association with the University of Queensland, allows emerging conductors to take their skills to the next level. Led by Graeme Morton, and featuring masterclasses with guest artist Brady Allred, participants will be immersed in the incredible range of national and international artists working with the Gondwana National Choirs. A valuable training opportunity for conductors of all levels, participants see a range of technique and approach from upper primary through to mature semi-professional singers.

Gondwana Composer School is a unique opportunity for emergingcomposers to immerse themselves in the choral world of Australia’s finest ensembles for young singers. In 2016, participants will work with Katy Abbott as they observe the National Choirs in rehearsal, and then write for them, the resulting works are performed in an in-house concert, and some also featured in the final public concerts. During the second week, a series of seminars will be presented, by leading Australian composers including Matthew Hindson and Andrew Ford, as well as Gondwana National Choral School artists.

Our national audition tour takes place between August and October each year. As part of this tour, we visit all major cities and several regional centers across Australia. The audition dates and times are:

  • Brisbane – Saturday, September 19th
  • Rockhampton – Saturday, September 19th
  • Armidale – Saturday, September 19th
  • Adelaide – Sunday, September 20th
  • Hobart – Sunday, September 20th
  • Canberra – Saturday, September 26th
  • Perth – Saturday, September 26th
  • Darwin – Saturday, September 26th
  • Sydney – Friday, October 2nd; Saturday, October 3rd; Sunday, October 4th
  • Melbourne – Sunday, October 4th
  • Toowoomba – Monday, October 5th
  • Cairns – Saturday, October 10th

Unfortunately, the minimum age to attend National Choral School is 10. We would encourage children 8 to 12 to apply to attend our Kid’s Choral Academy, which is a week-long music program that runs alongside National Choral School at Macquarie University. Applications for this program will be open from September, so keep an eye on our website!

In the weeks before National Choral School commences, Gondwana Choirs will send all choristers information regarding the designated terminal meet up points at Sydney Domestic Airport. When you arrive at Sydney Domestic Airport, you will be met by members of the Gondwana Choirs supervisor team, who will tick your name off the list of arriving choristers and look after you. We have several coaches to transfer choristers from the airport to National Choral School. You will be allocated to a departing bus, and transferred to our accommodation at Dunmore Lang College. Upon arrival at Dunmore Lang College, choristers will be signed in, given their music folder and room key, and directed to their room to unpack and settle in. Please remember to provide your chorister with a packed lunch and snacks, as lunch will not be provided at DLC on arrival day.

We encourage those choristers who are apprehensive about flying to NCS alone to register as an Unaccompanied Minor (UM) or Young Passenger on their arrival and/or departure flight.

We will allocate a volunteer supervisor as the main UM contact for each airline. This supervisor will be responsible for collecting your child from their arrival gate and escorting them to the airport meet up point where they will be looked after by NCS staff and supervisors.

We will confirm the main UM contacts in the weeks before NCS commences.

Each airline has age rules and restrictions reagarding Unaccompanied Minors, so please contact your chosen airline directly for further information.

If your child is being dropped directly at Dunmore Lang College, you will need to enter the college at 130-134 Herring Rd, North Ryde. There is NO parking on site however you can drop off at the entrance to the college then park your car across the road at Macquarie Shopping Centre.
Bring your chorister to the Dunmore Lang College Main Entrance for registration.
You will then be directed by our staff on how to get to your chorister’s room.
You are then welcome to take your chorister into their room where you can meet our staff/ supervisors and help your chorister get settled.
Please remember to provide your choristers with a packed lunch and snacks, as lunch will not be providede at DLC on arrival day.

Staying on campus for the duration of National Choral School is compulsory for all participants.

At National Choral School, we are extremely lucky to have a team of experienced staff and volunteer supervisors to look after our choristers. The majority of our supervisors are parents of past and present choristers, and all of them are extremely experienced in dealing with homesickness. Choristers are encouraged to call home during the dinner break each evening and participants are kept very busy with rehearsals, activities and new friends – there is hardly time to feel homesick!

At National Choral School, choristers are housed in college-style dormitory accommodation, and each chorister is allocated their own room. Choristers are asked to name up to 2 chorister rooming preferences, and we will endeavour to allocate rooms according to these preferences.

Please note that rooms are allocated according to age and gender, and as such it is not always possible for us to meet these preferences.

The kitchen at National Choral School is very experienced at catering for a range of dietary requirements and allergies. Before NCS begins, the kitchen staff, camp doctor and the relevant supervisors are given your child’s special diet information, and any chorister with a special diet is asked to make themselves known to kitchen staff before their first meal at NCS.

Please note: National Choral School is a nut and fish free environment.

We do not allow parents to ‘drop in’ to National Choral School to visit with their child.
We do encourage parents to attend Open Day (Saturday 16 July), and the National Choral School Concerts (Saturday 23 January), and choristers can phone home during their dinner break.
Please note: it is compulsory for all participants to return to Dunmore Lang College following the concerts on Saturday 23 January and be collected the following morning. Participants are not allowed to leave the concerts with their parents.

The daily schedule at National Choral School is broken into five sessions, which are separated by meal times. Choirs generally rehearse in three of these sessions, and the other sessions are allocated for music memorisation, free time, rest time, a whole choir activity, or an activity with all NCS participants.
7am: Wake Up 7:30 – 8:30am: Breakfast 9:00 – 10:30am: Session 1 10:30 – 11:00am: Morning Tea 11:00 – 12:30pm: Session 2 12:30 – 2:00pm: Lunch Break 2:00 – 3:30pm: Session 3 3:30 – 4:00pm: Afternoon Tea 4:00 – 5:30pm: Session 4 5:30 – 7:00pm: Dinner Break 7:00 – 8:30pm: Session 5 8:30 – 9:00pm: Pre-Curfew 9:00pm: Lights Out

At NCS, all participants wear casual clothes on rehearsal days. It can get very hot at Macquarie University, so it’s important that all participants pack cool clothing. Participants must wear either shoes or thongs when moving around the buildings and outside and MUST wear footwear into the dining hall.

A packing list will be sent to participants in the weeks before National Choral School commences.

Please note: as choristers are required to carry and lift their suitcases up and down stairs by themselves, the suitcase must be a trolley suitcase. It should NOT exceed the following dimensions: height (inc. wheels) 64cm, width 43cm, depth 27cm.

We strongly suggest your suitcase weighs no more than 15 kg.