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Gondwana Artists

  • Lyn Williams AM

    Artistic Director & Founder

  • Sam Allchurch

    Associate Artistic Director

  • 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

  • Amandine Petit

    Head of Training Choirs

  • Lauren Hannay

    Associate Conductor and Pianist

  • Lachlan Massey

    Conductor, Sydney Children's Choir

  • Heinz Schweers

    Pianist, Sydney Children's Choir

  • Bronwyn Cleworth

    Conductor, Sydney Children's Choir

  • Joanna Brooke

    Conductor, Sydney Children's Choir

  • Sally Whitwell

    Principal Pianist

  • Felix Riebl

    Composer & Creative Director, Spinifex Gum

  • Emma Donovan

    Resident Guest Artist, Spinifex Gum

  • Deborah Brown

    Choreographer, Spinifex Gum

  • Ollie McGill

    Music Producer, Spinifex Gum

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. 

Sam Allchurch

Associate Artistic Director

Sam Allchurch is recognised as one of Australia’s leading conductors of choirs. Sam began his life in choral music as a chorister of the Sydney Children’s Choir and Gondwana Voices, under the direction of Lyn Williams AM. He is now the Associate Artistic Director of Gondwana Choirs, directing the Young Men’s Choir which is regularly featured in concerts at City Recital Hall and heard on ABC Classic. Working closely with Artistic Director Lyn Williams, Sam has also prepared the treble ensembles of the Sydney Children’s Choir for performances with Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia and plays a key role in artistic planning.

Sam Allchurch is the Artistic Director of the acclaimed Sydney Chamber Choir, and the Director of Music at Christ Church St Laurence. Sam is frequently invited to conduct the City Recital Hall’s Flash Mob Choir and has appeared as a guest conductor at Festival of Voices, Tasmania and the Combined Schools Music Festival.

Sam holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Melbourne and a Master in Music (Choral Studies) from the University of Cambridge. His studies in Cambridge with Geoffrey Webber and Stephen Layton were supported by a scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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. 

Amandine Petit

Head of Training Choirs

Amandine Petit completed a Master in Musicology at the Université Marc Bloch and a Bachelor of Performance in Voice at the Conservatoire of Strasbourg (France) before moving to Australia in 2007. In France, she was a regular member of the Strasbourg Chamber Choir, the Choir of the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra and the all-female vocal quartet, Sotto Voce. Since relocating to Sydney, Amandine has been in demand as a singing teacher and choral conductor.

Amandine is currently Head of Training Choirs at Sydney Children’s Choir. She is a choir conductor at the Lycée Condorcet and at International Grammar School, where she also teaches voice.

In 2017 and 2019, she was Children’s Chorus Master for Opera Australia’s productions of King Roger (Szymanowski), Tosca and Turandot (Puccini). She was choir conductor for Junior Gondwana in 2018, 2019 and 2020 at National Choral School.

Lauren Hannay

Associate Conductor and Pianist

Cairns-based Lauren Hannay is a graduate of University of Queensland with double principal studies of Voice and Piano.  She completed post-graduate studies at Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Vocal Performance, working with acclaimed singing teacher Margaret Nickson.  Lauren made her professional debut as ‘Yum-Yum’ in TN Theatre Company production of The Mikado. She has also worked as soprano soloist in many cantata and oratorio performances in Queensland and has toured as a member of the Brisbane-based vocal quartet, La Cappella.

Lauren is nationally recognized as a leading singing teacher and vocal coach.  Her particular expertise lies in the integration of sound vocal technique in the choral context and has worked with the Sydney Chamber Choir, Sydney Children’s Choir and the Choir of Christ Church St Lawrence.  In addition to her vocal teaching she is Director of Choral Music at Cairns State High School.  In 2017 and again in 2019, Cairns State High Choir won the state finals of Queensland’s CGEN Choral Fanfare.

Lauren has had a long association with Gondwana choirs, where she is the pianist and co-conductor of Cairns-based Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir. In October 2019 she conducted the choir with ACO collective at CPAC.  Lauren toured with GICC nationally and on their first international tour to Germany, Slovenia and Vienna.   She has presented for ANCA QLD and NCS Choral Ideas Symposium in 2018 and 2019 and again for the Gondwana World Choral Festival: Music and Ideas series. Since its inception in 2013, Lauren has been the pianist for the NCS Conducting Academy.

Lachlan Massey

Conductor, Sydney Children's Choir

Lachlan Massey is a young Australian conductor and composer.

He conducts for the Sydney Children’s Choir, working under Lyn Williams AM and Sam Allchurch to prepare the choirs for concerts, recordings and major national events. Most recently he conducted the choir at The Sydney Energy Forum for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, acted as assistant conductor for dramatic work Hypnopompia with director Alexander Berlage, and assisted in preparing the choirs for the reopening of the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall under Simone Young.

Lachlan founded Musgrove Opera in 2018 to present contemporary opera for children and families. He composed & directed Pinocchio! (2018), which had its premiere at the Zenith Theatre, prior to a regional tour. His second children’s opera, an adaptation of Hansel & Gretel (2021), premiered at The Concourse. This year, Lachlan has directed Sid the Serpent who Wanted to Sing and Heroes in the Sydney Opera House Utzon Room. Most recently, he worked with composer Aija Draguns, directing the premiere of her children’s opera, Max and Moritz.

​Lachlan is an alumnus of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and a former Young Ambassador for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Heinz Schweers

Pianist, Sydney Children's Choir

In 1998 Heinz acquired a repetiteur/conductor position at the State Theatre of Mecklenburg, Germany, where he directed Michelangelo by Shostakovich and The Barber of Seville. In Berlin, Heinz directed new productions for the Neukoellneroper; these productions comprise Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Wild’s The Young Prince and Le Vin Herbe, by the Swiss modernist, Martin. These productions were widely reviewed in the German press, as was his arrangement of Kurt Weill’s One Touch of Venus which premiered with Germany’s favourite pop star, Marianne Rosenberg. He also conducted an A Grade performance of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat in Essen.

In 2005 and 2006, upon returning to Australia, Heinz presented Sid the Serpent and Hansel and Gretel for OzOpera in NSW and Cinderella and The Sound Garden in 2009 and 2010. Heinz has also produced, written and performed in two cabaret performances at the Seymour centre: Kathleen Ferrier: A Time of Kings and Queens, and Noel and Cole: Lives in Exile. In addition to his duties as Musical Director for Pacific Opera in 2007, Heinz produced his musical The Curious Pain of Louis XIV at the Seymour Downstairs. He wrote the book, lyrics and music for this piece. He was commissioned to write A Nasty Piece of Work with Nicholas Parsons for The New Theatre in 2008. In 2009 he was commissioned to write a children’s musical Wombat’s Wild Weekend which toured in pre-schools throughout Sydney. In 2010 he produced 40 In Song, a retrospective of his best 18 songs. He has written incidental music for many productions including Hell Hath No FurySuddenly SomedayThe Crucible, Mrs Petrov’s Shoe and Burnt By The Sun. His music has been published by Wirripang and Origin Theatrical.

Bronwyn Cleworth

Conductor, Sydney Children's Choir

Bronwyn Cleworth conducts ensembles within the Mini Singers and Intermediate Training Choirs levels of the Sydney Children’s Choir.

Dedicated to music education, Bronwyn has more than twenty years experience as a specialist music teacher at SCEGGS Darlinghurst. She is a longstanding member of the Sydney Chamber Choir, specialising in early music and contemporary repertoire, with an emphasis on Australian composers.

With the Sydney Chamber Choir, Bronwyn has toured Taiwan, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Adelaide and regional NSW. As an educator, Bronwyn has expertise in both Kodaly and Orff. She is passionate about the musical development of young children and enjoys sharing her love of song and singing.

Joanna Brooke

Conductor, Sydney Children's Choir

Conductor (Mini Singers, Whitwell and Twist Choirs)

Joanna Brooke is a vibrant singer and choral conductor based in Sydney. Since 2015, Joanna has been the Artistic Director of the Jubilate Singers, leading the group to perform at the Blackheath Choir Festival, the Belvoir Theatre and ABC Radio’s ‘Sing Out Sydney’. Joanna works regularly with multiple choirs, including Sydney Children’s Choirs, Forest Lodge Public School; and the Hannaford Singing Group. In 2020, Joanna is the proud recipient of River City Voices’ Assistant Conductor Scholarship.  

Joanna’s highlights as a singer include performing as the soprano soloist in three productions of Vivaldi’s Gloria in D in 2018 in Sydney and Tasmania. In 2020, Joanna looks forward to performing as a soloist in Bach’s St. John’s Passion with the Orpheus Choir and Mozart’s Requiem in D with the St. Matthew’s Singers.  

As an educator, Joanna sings and composes for a children’s music band, Avocado Smash. The group have recently won the San Diego Fringe Tour Ready Award 2019, the Inner West Council EDGE Development Award 2019 and were nominees for the Sydney Fringe Festival NIDA Emerging Artist and Fringe Kids Awards in 2019. 

Joanna holds a bachelor degree in social work with first class honours from the University of New South Wales.  

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. 

Felix Riebl

Composer & Creative Director, Spinifex Gum

Melbourne artist Felix Riebl is a man of many hats; award-winning artist, globe traverser, family-man, footy fanatic, leader, gardener, chef. He has found comfort in chaotic spaces, performing to sold-out stadiums across the world, and in small domestic moments whilst surrounded by family and friends.

Through his authenticity, Felix has built a career on his broad and colourful music palette – never being type-cast in to one music genre, yet somehow always finding an audience. Across his projects, The Cat Empire, Felix Riebl, and Spinifex Gum there is a thread that ties all three together and that’s a sense of community, collaboration, and respect for the craft.

In his most recent work, Felix celebrates the wonder and obscurities of life, by shining a light on the interplay of insular domestic moments and very extrovert overflowing international moments that present themselves, with joy and exuberance.

Emma Donovan

Resident Guest Artist, Spinifex Gum

Emma Donovan is an acclaimed Australian soul singer and songwriter best known for her work with rhythm combo The Putbacks and prior to this, The Black Arm Band project.

Emma has toured and recorded with Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, Spinifex Gum, Christine Anu, Yothu Yindi, Jimmy Little and Paul Kelly among others.

Starting her singing career at age seven, Emma appeared in family band The Donovans. On her mother’s side, Emma is part of the famed Donovan family of singers of the Gumbaynggirr people from Northern NSW. On her father’s side, Emma is of the Yamatji people in Western Australia.

In 2004, Emma was the subject of the SBS documentary Gumbaynggirr Lady and in 2007 she joined The Black Arm Band, reproducing iconic songs of the Aboriginal resistance movement in a theatrical setting. The Band, consisting of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists was an enormously important group, producing a number of shows which toured internationally and helped establish the careers of a new generation of Indigenous singers.

Deborah Brown

Choreographer, Spinifex Gum

Deborah Brown is a director, choreographer and award-winning dancer.

She spent 15 years as a Senior Artist at Bangarra Dance Theatre, where she created works including the short dance film dive in 2013 and IBIS for Bangarra’s national tour of lore in 2015. She won the 2013 Helpmann Award, Best Female Dancer in a Dance or Physical Theatre Production, Terrain.

She has created hide, for Campbelltown Arts Centre and has choreographed and collaborated on Spinifex Gum. Deborah was assistant director on STC’s The Long Forgotten Dream, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Wonangatta and Belvoir ‘s Winyanboga Yurringa.

Deborah has a Masters in Screen Directing at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). Her capstone film Bala has featured at film festivals around the globe and is currently screening on ABC iView. She has directed for the new NITV children’s series, Barrumbi Kids, set to be released in 2022.

Ollie McGill

Music Producer, Spinifex Gum

Ollie McGill is a genius behind the piano. For over two decades, McGill has shown his authentic versatility as a musician through composing, songwriting and being a vibrant player at the keys.

Whilst McGill is best known for his work as a founding member of The Cat Empire, the pianist’s stylistic and raw musical works can be seen and heard across collaborative sessions and compositions with musicians around the world.

McGill has enjoyed his chaotic touring and recording life over the past two decades, performing in a number of bands and toying with musical genres spanning neo classical, fusion, avantgarde, jazz, electronic and improvisational compositions.

Ever-present in the music world, whether this is touring, composing, recording or writing advertising songs (McGill composed the award-winning Dumb Ways to Die for Metro Trains Melbourne in 2012), the artist is not one to sit still when it comes to music projects.

Silhouettes of Mockingbirds is Ollie McGill’s latest solo piano release, an intimate EP of four tracks inspired by the ocean released in 2022.

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