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Gondwana National Choirs

Extraordinary young singers drawn from all corners of Australia.

Gondwana National Choirs brings together the country’s best performers from all backgrounds to create extraordinarily rich musical ensembles.

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Gondwana National Choirs are the voice of Australia’s youth, bringing together young singers from across the country to form vibrant musical ensembles. The choirs are proudly representative of people from every state and territory, and come together for annual seasons of rehearsals and performances under Australia’s leading conductors of choirs for young people.

In 1997, Lyn Williams AM and Mark O’Leary OAM joined young singers from every state and territory for a two-week season of music and song in Sydney. This began the tradition of the annual residential camp which would become National Choral School, where hundreds of young singers live, rehearse and perform together each January.

Two of the national choirs, Gondwana Voices and Gondwana Chorale, are amongst the finest choirs of their kind in the world, and proudly represent Australia on the world stage.

Welcome from Lyn Williams AM, Artistic Director

How wonderful to think that joyful voices will return to Gondwana National Choral School in 2023.  There is nothing quite like the feeling of being surrounded by great friends, great talent, great choral music and most of all, great joy. With a team of leading conductors at the helm, join us to make National Choral School 2023 a resounding success.

In a first for Australia, our signature children’s choir, Gondwana Voices has been invited to join the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as Ensemble in Residence in 2023. Across two seasons the choir will bring their exceptional skills to join the orchestra in the performance of significant works. If you are one of Australia’s most capable young treble singers we look forward to welcoming you into this remarkable ensemble.

Our young adult choir Gondwana Chorale will be crossing the ditch to join their colleagues in New Zealand. Let the nations resound together.

Gondies of old will no doubt have noticed that National Choral School has been shortened to 7 action packed choral days. You are welcome to come to Choral School and learn all your music once you arrive.  For those who relish the opportunity to tackle some really challenging repertoire, audition for the signature ensembles Gondwana Voices and Gondwana Chorale for which you will prepare some repertoire in advance.

Voices of Angels will provide an uplifting finale to the choral year. Hundreds of choral voices will fill the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall for this festive occasion.

I look forward to meeting you during the audition process and welcoming you to Gondwana National Choral School and further seasons during the year.

Lyn Williams AM

Download 2023 Season Brochure
  • Season 1: National Choral School

    Sydney

  • Season 2a: War Requiem

    Melbourne (Gondwana Voices)

  • Season 2b: Vexations and Devotions

    Melbourne (Gondwana Voices)

  • Season 3: Gondwana Chorale Tour to New Zealand

    Auckland (Gondwana Chorale)

  • Season 4: Voices of Angels

    Sydney

Season 1: National Choral School

Sydney

15 – 22 January 2023, Sydney

The Women’s College, University of Sydney

Performances: Saturday 21 January, Great Hall, University of Sydney

National Choral School returns in 2023! Experience the joy of the best choral event of the year which brings together Australia’s most passionate young singers. Over the course of a week-long residency, the unique sounds of the Gondwana National Choirs will resound across the University of Sydney. Inspired by Australia’s leading conductors, you’ll explore the full range of choral repertoire as well as having the opportunity to work with exciting guest artists.

There are choirs at National Choral School to suit everyone. As with earlier seasons, some choirs will prepare all the repertoire once they arrive at National Choral School. If you are keen to tackle more challenging repertoire, audition for Gondwana Voices or Gondwana Chorale, who will prepare repertoire in advance of the season.

Conductors: Lyn Williams, Mark O’Leary, Paul Holley, Carl Crossin, Rowan Johnston, Claire Preston, Kim Sutherland and AJ America

Cost: $995. National Choral School is a residential opportunity only.

Season 2a: War Requiem

Melbourne (Gondwana Voices)

In 2023, Gondwana Voices is honoured to be the ensemble in residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, at the invitation of chief conductor Jaime Martin. Gondwana Voices has performed with leading orchestras around the world over many years but this is the first time a children’s choir has been an ensemble in residence with a major Australian orchestra. Working with Artistic Director and Founder Lyn Williams, the choir will come together in Melbourne for two seasons, each centred around a major work.  

These seasons will feature treble singing at its peak, with music that is exhilarating, challenging and relevant in equal measure. 

Eligibility: 10 – 17, treble voices
Gondwana Voices will be accommodated in apartments in central Melbourne. 

Part A: War Requiem 

8 – 16 April 2023, Melbourne 

In April, the choir will join with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and MSO Chorus to perform Britten’s War Requiem, a masterwork of the twentieth century. 

Benjamin Britten War Requiem  

Cost:
$1280 (residential)
$500 (non-residential)

Combined season cost (Parts 2a & 2b including discount): $2025

We are looking for Australia’s best young musicians for this exciting season – there are only 40 spots available.
The costs for season 2 include a scholarship subsidy, recognising the high skill level required. Choristers who participate in both parts A and B will be offered a discount of $250 off the total cost.  

Season 2b: Vexations and Devotions

Melbourne (Gondwana Voices)

In 2023, Gondwana Voices is honoured to be the ensemble in residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, at the invitation of chief conductor Jaime Martin. Gondwana Voices has performed with leading orchestras around the world over many years but this is the first time a children’s choir has been an ensemble in residence with a major Australian orchestra. Working with Artistic Director and Founder Lyn Williams, the choir will come together in Melbourne for two seasons, each centred around a major work.  

These seasons will feature treble singing at its peak, with music that is exhilarating, challenging and relevant in equal measure. 

Eligibility: 10 – 17, treble voices
Gondwana Voices will be accommodated in apartments in central Melbourne. 

 

Part B: Vexations and Devotions  

6 – 16 July 2023, Melbourne 

In July, the choir performs Brett Dean’s Vexations and Devotions, a work which Gondwana Voices has performed around the world over two decades, including at the BBC Proms and the Berlin Philharmonie. 

Brett Dean Vexations and Devotions  

Cost:
$995 (residential)
$400 (non-residential) 

We are looking for Australia’s best young musicians for this exciting season – there are only 40 spots available.
The costs for season 2 include a scholarship subsidy, recognising the high skill level required. Choristers who participate in both parts A and B will be offered a discount of $250 off the total cost.  

Season 3: Gondwana Chorale Tour to New Zealand

Auckland (Gondwana Chorale)

27 September – 2 October 2023, Auckland

Two great youth choirs will meet when Gondwana Chorale travels to Auckland to collaborate with the acclaimed New Zealand Youth Choir. The choirs will present a shared concert in the magical acoustic of Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Gondwana Chorale provides unique opportunities to talented young adults to perform in an exciting musical environment. The high level of skill exhibited by these young musicians allows the singers to perform challenging repertoire under two of Australia’s most loved conductors, Paul Holley OAM and Carl Crossin OAM.

Cost: $1295 (excludes travel to and from Auckland)

Choristers must have attended Season 1 to be eligible for Season 3.

Season 4: Voices of Angels

Sydney

6 – 12 December 2023, Sydney

Voices of Angels shares the joy of the festive season from the sails of the Sydney Opera House. Since 2006, this annual performance has been a highlight of Sydney’s cultural calendar.

In 2023, Voices of Angels takes place in the stunning surrounds of the newly re-opened Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. Don’t miss this opportunity to sing in this iconic building.

This is your chance to be part of wonderful finale of the choral year.

Cost: $285

Apply for 2023 Gondwana National Choirs

There’s still time to apply for 2023 – we’re taking applications until Friday 30 September 2022.

Auditions 

For our 2023 projects, auditions will be in two parts. 

Part 1: You will need to submit a video recording of you singing a piece of your choice, which demonstrates your voice and musicianship. The piece should last no longer than 5 minutes and may or may not have accompaniment. Applicants will be given clear guidelines for the creation and submission of their video.  

Part 2: Applicants will attend a live, online audition via Zoom. This audition will cover a range of aural and sight singing skills. Example audition material will be made available before auditions commence. You will be allocated an audition time and due to the number of applications, it may not be possible to change this time. 

Cost: There is a $50 audition fee payable upon submission of your application. 

Accommodation 

The accommodation options are different for each season. For National Choral School, All participants will receive accommodation and full board (breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner) at The Women’s College, the University of Sydney, for the duration of the season. 

Accommodation is in single rooms, some with shared bathrooms and some with ensuites. 

Travel  

The participation fee does not include travel to and from the chorister’s home at the beginning and end of each season.  

Participants for residential seasons arriving at airports will be met by Gondwana Choirs representatives and be provided with bus transfers between the airport and the accommodation on arrival and departure days. 

Bursaries  

We want to make sure that everyone can attend a Gondwana season. Through the support of generous individuals, there are a number of full and partial bursaries available for participants who can demonstrate the need for financial assistance in order to attend Gondwana National Choirs seasons. To apply, please request further bursary information on the National Choirs application form.

Supervision 

Gondwana Choirs is committed to the care of our choristers. All choristers are cared for by an experienced team of adult staff and supervisors staying on site. Our supervisors are experienced in dealing with homesickness and all “Gondies” are made to feel welcome at National Choral School. Choristers should understand that they will be staying in individual rooms away from their families and homes and must be independent of their parents during the season.   

Apply for 2023 Gondwana National Choirs
  • Lyn Williams AM

    Artistic Director & Founder

  • Mark O’Leary OAM

    Principal Guest Conductor, Gondwana Voices

  • Paul Holley OAM

    Principal Guest Conductor, Gondwana Chorale

  • Carl Crossin OAM

    Principal Guest Conductor, Gondwana Chorale

  • Claire Preston

    Guest Conductor, Gondwana Singers

  • Rowan Johnston

    Guest Conductor, Gondwana Singers

  • Kim Sutherland OAM

    Guest Conductor, Gondwana Novus

  • AJ America

    Guest Conductor, Gondwana Novus

  • Sally Whitwell

    Principal Pianist

Lyn Williams AM

Artistic Director & Founder

Lyn Williams is widely regarded as one of the finest conductors of choirs around the world. For over 30 years, Lyn has harnessed the incredible power of young voices through her world-renowned ensembles: the Sydney Children’s Choir, Gondwana Voices, the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir and Marliya. Her choirs have appeared with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors and at festivals including the BBC Proms and Polyfollia.  

Lyn has commissioned over 200 works from composers across Australia and around the world and her ability to forge innovative and meaningful collaborations is widely recognised. She continues to foster strong relationships with First Nations artists across Australia, bringing together cultural custodians and composers to create new works which preserve and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages and cultures. Lyn enjoys a long-standing collaboration with singer-songwriter Felix Riebl of the Cat Empire and the singers of Marliya, presenting the critically-acclaimed show Spinifex Gum, which has featured at almost every Australian arts festival since its premiere at the Adelaide Festival in 2018.  

In 2017, Lyn received the Australia Council for the Arts’ Don Banks Music Award for outstanding and sustained contribution to music in Australia, in recognition of her lifework as founder and director of Gondwana Choirs. 

Mark O’Leary OAM

Principal Guest Conductor, Gondwana Voices

Mark O’Leary OAM has worked with choirs of all ages for nearly 40 years. He is the Director of Young Voices of Melbourne which he founded in 1990 and has been Gondwana Voices’ Principal Guest Conductor since its first season in 1997. He has been on more than 45 national and international tours and has made 18 Cd recordings with Young Voices of Melbourne, Gondwana Voices and Exaudi. He publishes choral music for young singers in the YVM Choral Series and is the creator of the Sight Singing School website and books, used in more than 50 countries. He is a Churchill Fellow, an Honorary Life Member of Kodály Australia and was awarded an OAM for services to choral music in 2018. 

Paul Holley OAM

Principal Guest Conductor, Gondwana Chorale

Paul Holley is a choral conductor and music educator. His personal warmth and passion for choral music have inspired many singers to discover and develop their skills as choral musicians. With over 25 years of teaching experience in schools and many years of working with instrumentalists and singers Paul knows how to connect with people of all ages and enjoys collaborating with them in the music making process. 

Presently, Paul is the Artistic Director of Voices of Birralee a community youth and children’s choir organisation based in Brisbane. He conducts two of the signature choirs the Birralee Blokes and Resonance of Birralee. Both of these ensembles have toured nationally and internationally, won several competitions, made numerous recordings and supported community events. He is also the co-conductor of the national youth choir Gondwana Chorale. In addition to these roles, Paul is a workshop presenter, choral clinician, guest conductor and mentor to younger conductors. He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in January 2016 for his services to choral music. 

Carl Crossin OAM

Principal Guest Conductor, Gondwana Chorale

Carl Crossin is an Australian choral conductor, educator and composer. He is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Adelaide. He was director of the Elder Conservatorium of Music in the University of Adelaide in 2010-14. Crossin founded the Adelaide Chamber Singers in 1985, and as director he has toured with them to Britain, Europe, North America and South-East Asia, won several awards for performance and CD recordings, and represented Australia in international choral and music education symposia and festivals. As well, Crossin and the Adelaide Chamber Singers have embarked on a program of commissioning and presenting new choral music. Over his career, Carl has conducted the Adelaide Symphony Chorus, the Intervarsity Choral Festival, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, the Melbourne Chorale and Gondwana Chorale.  

Claire Preston

Guest Conductor, Gondwana Singers

Claire Preston has worked extensively in Australia and North America specialising in developing young singers.  She has been Assistant Conductor of the Toronto Children’s Chorus and Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus, accompanist for Canada’s foremost professional choir, Elmer Iseler Singers and was Co-Founder of the award winning, Exaudi Youth Choir. Claire returned to Australia as Head of Choral Studies at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School where she commissioned and recorded Australian music and collaborated regularly with the VCA Orchestra.  

Claire maintains an active career as a choral conductor and is in demand as an adjudicator for choral festivals and eisteddfods including New Zealand Choral Federation The Big Sing; Festival of Voices, Australian Honours Ensemble Program and Voices of Birralee.  She has been a regular guest conductor at Gondwana National Choral School and is delighted to be conducting in the 2023 season! Claire is Head of Music at Redeemer Lutheran College and in 2020 was awarded a scholarship through the National Excellence in School Leadership Institute. In 2021, Claire received a Leadership Award from the Australian Council for Educational Leaders. 

Rowan Johnston

Guest Conductor, Gondwana Singers

Rowan is a freelance conductor, adjudicator and clinician based in New Zealand. He holds undergraduate degrees in Voice and Composition and has completed a Masters degree in Choral Conducting with First Class Honours studying with Dr Karen Grylls at Auckland University. Rowan founded the Taranaki Youth Choir and the internationally-acclaimed Choralation Choir from Westlake Girls & Boys High Schools. Under his direction, Choralation is the most successful choir in the history of the NZ Secondary School choral festival The Big Sing. In 2014, Choralation was awarded 1st Place in the Summa Cum Laude Music Festival in Vienna where they performed in the Musik Vehrein. Rowan currently holds the positions of Director of Choirs at Holy Trinity Cathedral Auckland, the Music Directorship of the Auckland Youth Choir and was made an Associate Conductor for New Zealand’s professional chamber choir, an ensemble he also sings in, Voices New Zealand. He is a Choral Advisor for the NZ Choral Federation. 

Kim Sutherland OAM

Guest Conductor, Gondwana Novus

Kim Sutherland OAM is the Artistic Director of The Song Sisters and the Founding Music Director and Conductor of Hunter Singers, the NSW Department of Education regional choir for Newcastle and the Hunter Region. After graduating from Sydney Conservatorium with a music teaching degree, Kim studied conducting with Myer Fredman and Mats Nilsson and completed her Master of Creative Arts degree at the University of Newcastle. She conducted the Festival Chorus at the Newcastle Music Festival in 2017 and 2018, and Gondwana Novus at National Choral School in 2017-2020.  

Kim is dedicated to commissioning new works by Australian composers, with 28 original works by leading composers, including Michael Atherton, Stephen Leek, Dan Walker, Paul Jarman, Matthew Orlovich and Luke Byrne. With Hunter Singers, Kim has let 10 international tours and 9 national tours, sharing the group’s love of Australian music with audiences at home and abroad. Kim’s service to the arts was recognized with the award of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2013. 

AJ America

Guest Conductor, Gondwana Novus

AJ America is a performer, conductor and creative producer. She is the Artistic Director of Luminescence Chamber Singers and Children’s Choir, Canberra’s premiere vocal ensembles, and currently serves as the Chair of the ACT Art’s Minister’s Creative Council. AJ performs regularly as a soloist and a consort singer in Sydney and Canberra, appearing with the Luminescence Chamber Singers, Cantillation, the Choir of St James’ King St, Pinchgut Opera and Vox Plexus (Melbourne). She is a regular collaborator with conductor Roland Peelman, and Ella Luhtasaari (piano). In recent years, AJ has also served as a tutor for the ANU School of Music H-Course Vocal Ensemble, Director of Choirs at Radford College, and as a guest conductor for the Sydney Children’s Choir. 

Sally Whitwell

Principal Pianist

Pianist and Composer Sally Whitwell maintains a busy and eclectic musical existence from her base in Sydney.  

As a solo performer, she has recorded five albums to date with ABC Classic, garnering between them 8 ARIA nominations and 3 wins. She is known particularly for her interpretations of the piano works of American minimalist Philip Glass, her debut album Mad Rush leading to invitations to premiere Glass’s Etudes for Solo Piano at Perth International Arts Festival, Center for the Art of Performance UCLA, and at Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music. In a five star review of her recording of Glass’s Etudes in Limelight Magazine, Sally is described as “one of Australia’s finest solo performers”. 

Sally has composed for many vocal ensembles including Adelaide Chamber Singers (2020 Composer in Residence), The Consort of Melbourne, The Australian Voices, Divisi Chamber Singers, The House That Dan Built, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Moorambilla Voices, Brisbane Birralee, BachChor Salzburg and Juice Vocal (London). She has also created instrumental works for Phoenix Central Park, Ensemble Offspring, Acacia Quartet, Plexus Ensemble, Homophonic, Emily Granger (harp) and Alicia Crossley (recorders). A new work ‘Starwalker’ commissioned by guitarist Matt Withers will be released on ABC Classic in late 2022. 

Sally’s newest recording is a vocal chamber music work, an LGBTQIA+ pride-flag themed song cycle Spectrum, released by Divisi Chamber Singers. She is currently working on a short film comedy musical Sparky about a woman plumber, and also a new setting of the poetry of Gwen Harwood for Katie Noonan and the Australian Vocal Ensemble. 

Video

For more, visit our YouTube channel.

Desert Sea

Lie Light Dear Heart

Whenever the Wind is High

Recordings

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