Gondwana National Choral School is the premier 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.

Applications have now closed for NCS 2018 – please check back in July 2018 to enquire for NCS 2019! See below for answers to frequently asked questions, or contact National Choirs Manager Emma Carson.

National Choral School was a resounding success this year – thank you to all of the choristers, family, staff and other participants who helped make this experience so rewarding! As in 2017, UNSW has been an invaluable partner in presenting this program to more than 300 choristers, representing every state in Australia. As one member of Gondwana Singers commented, “It’s more than just amazing music, it’s lifelong friends and priceless memories.”

Read all about National Choral School 2018 on our blog, Behind the Swirl!

The Choirs

Gondwana Choirs’ annual National Choral School will host Australia’s best young singers, composers and conductors to explore the awesome power of the human voice. Over the two-week residential season at the University of New South Wales, singers will work with leading choral experts in five outstanding choirs.

Junior Gondwana

Conductors: Amandine Petit and Kate Albury
For many choristers, Junior Gondwana is the start of their long association with Gondwana Choirs. This treble choir is for children who display substantial musical potential wishing to develop the essential skills of good choral singing.

Gondwana Novus

Conductors: Paul Jarman and Kim Sutherland
Our newest treble choir Gondwana Novus offers more advanced repertoire and language experience to young singers who are consolidating their musical skills and ready for new challenges.

Gondwana Voices

Conductors: Lyn Williams and Mark O’Leary
Over 20 years, Gondwana Voices has built an international reputation as Australia’s national children’s choir. The treble choir performs across Australia and the world at festivals and in concert halls, collaborating with leading ensembles such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra. A high standard of musicianship is an entry requirement.

Gondwana Singers

Conductors: Christie Anderson and Rowan Johnston
Gondwana Singers is an SATB choir of high school-aged singers and is often the first chance for many to experience the repertoire and sound world of a mixed choir.

Gondwana Chorale

Conductors: Paul Holley and Carl Crossin
Gondwana Chorale holds a reputation as one of Australia’s finest choirs, bringing together the most talented young adult singers from across the country. Gondwana Chorale tours internationally and its debut recording, SOAR, has received critical acclaim.

NCS 2018

The choirs at National Choral School, which are made up of young singers from across Australia aged 10-25, have an increasingly flexible structure, making the most artistically rewarding projects possible.

$1,550. The all-inclusive participation fee covers accommodation and meals on campus, excursions, ground transfers, 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.

Our choirs cater for singers aged 10 – 25; girls and treble boys and changed and changing voices as well as the more mature voices of the older singers. The standard of musicianship is high but we recognise that everyone has skills in different areas and varying levels of choral experience.

Gondwana Choirs is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the University of New South Wales for National Choral School 2018. Participants will be accommodated in the conveniently located and recently rebuilt Kensington Colleges, in modern single rooms with excellent recreational and catering facilities.
Ensembles will rehearse in a range of outstanding venues across the campus, all within a short walk of the centrally located accommodation.

The Gondwana Conducting Academy enables choral conductors to take their skills to the next level. Participants also observe the artistic team for National Choral School, comprising the finest choral conductors from across Australia, gaining a rare insight into a range of repertoire, technique and training for upper primary through to mature semi-professional singers.

Gondwana Composer School is a truly unique opportunity for emerging composers to develop their craft during two intensive weeks in January. Under the expert guidance of leading composer Antony Pitts, participants are mentored throughout the entire creative process, including composition, revision, rehearsal, workshopping, performance and recording.
Gondwana Composer School 2018 will be a truly incredible experience for any emerging composer who wishes to become immersed in the highly idiomatic nature of writing for voices and vocal ensembles.

A/V auditions for choristers who cannot attend the in-person auditions must be received by 28 August.

Saturday 26/8 Armidale, Darwin, Sydney

Sunday 27/8 Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth

Saturday 2/9 Canberra, Sydney

Sunday 3/9 Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney, Toowoomba

Sunday 9/9 Rockhampton

Nationwide auditions will be held in August and September 2017 (please see dates above). Auditions will be granted for all applications 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 recognise this fact in the audition process. We expect applicants’ skills to develop from year to year and it is expected that older choristers will exhibit a higher standard of aural and sight singing skills.

AV Auditions are accepted from applicants who live further than 200km away from their closest audition venue. Please select this option on the application form and we will send further details and instructions. You will need to engage a facilitator (e.g. music teacher) to run and record the audition for you. You will need to upload your video to Google Drive, or send a thumb drive to the Gondwana Choirs office.

The final date for the receipt of all recorded auditions is 5pm, Monday 28 August 2017.


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.


All applicants (choristers, composer and conductors) will 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@gondwana.org.au

Choristers will 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. Please do not sing a song you have sung previously to audition for Gondwana Choirs. You will also take an aural test including melodic memory, part-singing and sight-singing.
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. Composers are required to submit a recent example of their choral composition writing.


Applicants are encouraged to utilise 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.

Practice Audition Materials

Gondwana Choirs is committed to ensuring access to its programs and strives to ensure that none of its participants are disadvantaged for financial reasons. Through the generous support of its private donors, Gondwana Choirs will provide a range of full and partial bursaries for National Choral School in 2018. These bursaries will support young musicians and their families who face financial hardship or circumstances that would otherwise prevent them from receiving the unparalleled choral training and personal and career development that the Gondwana Choirs program offers. Bursaries will be awarded in the form of a waiver or reduction in participation fees. Applicant Information
Applications may be made by either:

• A parent of a dependent student in Years K – 12 and Tertiary Study, or:

• An independent student aged 18 years of over

Please click the button at the top of the page for more information.

Gain invaluable experience in arts administration and media by joining our operations team for an internship.Read more here
Email your CV, and a cover letter outlining your interest in arts administration to ncs@gondwana.org.au

FAQ about NCS

NCS2018 will be based for the at the University of New South Wales, with participants in residence at The Kensington Colleges. NCS takes place for two weeks each January each year and in 2018 the dates are 8-21January inclusive.

NCS2018 will be based for the at the University of New South Wales, with participants in residence at The Kensington Colleges. NCS takes place for two weeks each January each year and in 2018 the dates are 8-21January inclusive.

All choristers must be at least 10 years old on 1 January 2018. Children may be 9 years old when auditioning as long as they are at least 10 years old after 1 January 2018.

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

National Choral School is being held at the UNSW campus for the first time in 2017, thanks to our new partnership with the university. Participants will be accommodated in the recently rebuilt Kensington Colleges, in modern single rooms with excellent recreational and catering facilities. Choristers will be allocated to a wing according to gender, age and preferences where possible.

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

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 University of New South Wales. Upon arrival at The Kensington Colleges, 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 on arrival day.

If your child is being dropped directly at The Kensington Colleges, you will need to enter the college at 4 High Street, Kensington. There is no parking on site however there is plenty of street parking surrounding the university.
There will be plenty of signage directing towards the entrance of the college 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 provided on arrival day.

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. 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!

We don’t allow parents to ‘drop in’ to National Choral School to visit with their child.
We do encourage parents to attend Open Day, and the National Choral School Concerts, and choristers can phone home during their dinner break.

Please note: it is compulsory for all participants to return to UNSW following the concerts and be collected the following morning. Participants are not allowed to leave the concerts with their parents.

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 NCS is a nut and fish free environment.

At NCS, all participants wear casual clothes on rehearsal days. It can get very hot and humid in Sydney in January, 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 should be a trolley suitcase. We strongly suggest the suitcase weighs no more than 15 kg.