Australian Girls Choir

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The Australian Girls Choir is a choir which is part of the Australian School of Performing Arts. It was founded in 1984 by Judith Curphey, OAM,[1] and has since achieved recognition world wide.

History[edit]

Founder and Director, Judith Curphey (OAM) established the Australian Girls Choir in 1984. The philosophy of the Australian Girls Choir is that every child can sing given the correct training, opportunity and encouragement.[2]

The choir began in 1984 with four probationary groups rehearsing weekly in the Melbourne suburb of Burwood. Within a year, the first performing choir had been formed from the original group of 150 girls. Chapters of the Australian Girls Choir were opened in South Australia in June 1984 and in New South Wales in February 1986. In 1987 the first Performing Choir Music School was held in Victor Harbor, South Australia and in 1989 the AGC undertook its first international tour to Canada. In 2000 the choir expanded to include Queensland.

In 2010 there were 17 rehearsal venues across Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, 72 tutors, 132 classes and over 3,500 girls aged between 5 and 18 years. [3]

QANTAS Choir - Qantas Ad 2009[edit]

Over the years, the Australian Girls Choir have involved many thousands of their girls in the filming of the Qantas advertisements and in performances in Australia and around the world.

The latest instalment of the Qantas ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ advertising series was launched during the Bledisloe Cup in August. In the months leading up to the launch, 100 members of the Australian Girls Choir were involved in the filming and recording of the commercial.

The commercial opens with Tyus, a young indigenous boy, singing in his native language in a remote Australian location. As Tyus sings out, his voice travels to the far corners of the globe, where other choristers hear his call. Responding to his voice, they begin their journey home, eventually uniting as one fully assembled choir to sing the final stirring chorus of ‘I Still Call Australia Home’.

The filming took place over 21 days and took members of the Australian Girls Choir, as well as the National Boys Choir of Australia and the Gondwana National Indigenous Children’s Choir, to every corner of the country.

The final shot of the commercial was filmed at one of Australia’s most spectacular landmarks, Purnululu National Park in Western Australia, and features a backdrop of black and orange domes, vivid in the setting sun. Over 180 children were involved in the filming of this end shot, as well as nearly 80 staff members and production crew. During filming, over 99,200 kilometres were travelled by road in 56 buses, and a remote camp and catering for 300 people was built for the final shot.

The filming locations included: Broome, Western AustraliaGantheaume Point Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia – Cape Leveque Diggers Rest Station, Western Australia – El Questro Purnululu National Park, Western Australia – Cathedral Gorge and Piccaninny Gorge Uluru, Northern Territory – Curtin Springs Salt Lakes Daintree National Park, Queensland – Cape Tribulation Kiama, New South Wales – Seven Mile Beach

The new advertising campaign also featured two special documentary programs ‘Coming Home’ and the ‘I Still Call Australia Home – Anniversary Special’ which aired nationally on Channel 7. Members of the choir were involved in media appearances including an interview and performance on Channel 7 ‘Sunrise’ and an interview on Channel 7 ‘The Morning Show’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8eVlvDHLSU

QANTAS choir history[edit]

Qantas approached the Australian Girls Choir in 1998[4] about the possibility of working with the National Boys Choir on a promotional campaign for the airline, after watching the two choirs perform together on Carols by Candlelight.

The first installment of the campaign involved 150 choristers aged between 8 and 18.[5] Throughout a three-month period, the girls were filmed in destinations as diverse as an Argentinean glacier and an ancient temple in Thailand. The final shot of the commercial was filmed at Kings Canyon in the Northern Territory and involved over 200 additional children.[6]

Australian Girls Choir choristers were involved in public performances as part of the launch, and became known as the Qantas Choir. Senior choristers were also involved in promotional events and media launches in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Manila, Tokyo and Jakarta.

As a result of the success of the campaign, the girls were invited to record the 'Spirit of Christmas' CD with the National Boys Choir and a host of Australian recording artists. The CD went platinum and was nominated for an ARIA award.[7]

In 2000 and again in 2004 the Australian Girls Choir was invited to do it all again in a sequel to the campaign. The filming of the 2000 campaign followed a similar format, and this time some of our location highlights included a Massai village in Africa, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Statue of Liberty in the USA. The making of the 2000 campaign became the subject of a documentary called Wandering Spirits, which aired on the Seven Network in Australia.

The Australian Girls Choir continues to enjoy its relationship with Qantas. The girls perform at Qantas events and functions such as the 'Boy from Oz', Socceroos Games and the Bledisloe Cup. The choristers also represent Qantas at 'G'Day USA' and 'G'Day NZ' Australia Week Celebrations each year.[8]

Levels[edit]

Levels of the choir include:

  • Piccolo
  • Vivo
  • Allegro
  • Avanti
  • Prelude
  • Concert
  • Camerata
  • Performing

Transition between levels occurs at the end of each year for most choristers. In the first six levels, transition is done by age as well as skill level. Choristers must audition for Camerata or Performing.

Specialist groups[edit]

Selected choristers are nominated by their tutor to be auditioned for parts in the Winter Showcase and Annual Concerts. Choristers who are selected to perform special singing, dancing, acting or speaking roles in the concert are members of the specialist group Stellata for the duration of the specific concerts rehearsals.

Other groups include:

  • Cantissimo - group of choristers selected from Allegro and Avanti Levels
  • Canto – group of choristers selected from Prelude and Concert Levels
  • Concert Dance Group - dance group of selected girls from Concert Level*
  • Danzare - dance group of selected girls from Camerata
  • Ballare – dance group of selected girls from Performing Choir
  • Bel Canto – vocal group of selected girls from Performing Choir

Performing Choir[edit]

The Performing Choir is the highest level of the Australian Girls Choir. Entry into Performing Choir is determined by audition and successful choristers have many opportunities to perform at public engagements.

Awards Night[edit]

At the end of each year an awards night is held for Performing Choir choristers. It is an exciting night for all choristers as present leaders, scholarship winners, Year 12 choristers and tutors are congratulated. The leaders and scholarship winners for the upcoming year are announced and awards for the current year are presented.

Scholarships and awards exist for members of the Performing Choir in each state. These are presented to girls who show exceptional vocal or dance ability, outstanding contribution and general excellence. They are determined by recommendations from the music and administration staff.

Scholarships are provided by the Australian School of Performing Arts and the support of business associates provides the following awards:

  • Jean Oliver Scholarship for Choir Leader
  • June Bronhill Encouragement Scholarship
  • Katrina Vanin Per amore di essa Scholarship
  • Fashion Clubwear Award for Outstanding Performer
  • Smith and Hope Award for Outstanding Performer
  • Peter Jones Special Events Award for Outstanding Contribution
  • The Lantern Group Award for Outstanding Contribution
  • Whelan and Cook Award for Outstanding Contribution
  • The Print Musicworks Award for Outstanding Contribution
  • Commercial Video Productions Award for General Excellence
  • Dolphin IT Award for General Excellence
  • Ogilvy and Mather Sydney Award for General Excellence
  • Richard McKellar Design Award for General Excellence
  • Les Gock Award for Vocal Excellence
  • Chong Lim Award for Outstanding Musicianship

[9] Awards night is known colloquially by choristers as 'Perfies' (from the word 'Performing').

Uniform[edit]

Weekly rehearsal uniform

  • Piccolo and Vivo Levels - A pale pink junior@agc t-shirt with any pants or skirt.
  • Allegro and Avanti Levels – The magenta t-shirt and dance pants are compulsory. The polar fleece jacket is optional.
  • Prelude and Concert Levels – All items of the uniform are compulsory – magenta t-shirt, dance pants and polar fleece.
  • Camerata and Performing Choir – All items of the uniform are compulsory – navy t-shirt, black shoes, purple ribbon, dance pants and polar fleece.

The choir uniform is worn with black socks and black school or dress shoes. A choir hair ribbon is worn with the uniform. Only jewellery to be worn are small stud earrings and watches.

In the younger levels a navy bag is used to transport music or shoes. In Concert, Camerata and Performing, a navy blue/pink back-pack with the choir logo is compulsory. [10]

Costumes[edit]

  • Piccolo, Vivo, Allegro and Avanti choristers do not have a formal performance costume. In the past girls have been asked to wear their best party dress, a white dress with a coloured ribbon sash and matching hair ribbon, or their correct rehearsal uniform.
  • Prelude, Concert, Camerata and Performing choristers wear performance costumes when they are involved in Australian Girls Choir concerts and in public engagements.[11]
  • Prelude: A pink costume with matching ribbon. This costume is worn with flesh coloured stockings and tan jazz shoes.
  • Concert: A lilac costume with matching ribbon. This costume is worn with flesh coloured stockings and tan jazz shoes.
  • Camerata: A raspberry pink costume top with matching ribbon and black dance pants. This is worn with black jazz shoes.
  • Performing: A purple costume top with matching ribbon and black dance pants. This is worn with black jazz shoes.

Concerts[edit]

In addition to professional performances the choir produces three concerts each year.

Winter Showcase Concerts are held mid-year in all states. All choristers present their level items which have been choreographed, as well as performing in a massed finale.[12]

Gala Spring Concerts are an opportunity for senior choristers to showcase the repertoire they undertake each year. They are held in September of each year and involve the Performing, Camerata and Concert Levels.[13]

Annual concerts are held at the end of the year in all states. All choristers present their level items which have been choreographed, as well as performing in the massed finale. In 2009 the 25th Anniversary Annual Concert season involved seven performances at the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, Adelaide Town Hall and Brisbane City Hall.[14]

Tours[edit]

In 2012 the choir undertook its 15th National and 15th International tours.[15]

  • 2011 - United States of America
  • 2010 - France, England, Switzerland and Singapore
  • 2009 - Italy, France and Hong Kong[16]
  • 2009 - Northern New South Wales and Southern Queensland
  • 2008 - South Australia, Northern Territory, Western Australia
  • 2008 - England, Ireland, Scotland, Vietnam
  • 2007 - Tasmania and Victoria
  • 2007 - USA
  • 2006 - New South Wales, Canberra and Victoria
  • 2006 - Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, France and Thailand
  • 2005 - South Australia and Western Australia
  • 2004 - England, France, Italy, Vietnam
  • 2004 - New South Wales, Canberra, Victoria
  • 2003 - Northern Territory and Queensland
  • 2002 - Queensland
  • 2002 - Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand
  • 2001 - Queensland
  • 2000 - Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney
  • 1999 - England, France, Germany, Thailand
  • 1998 - Canberra and Sydney
  • 1997 - England, Austria, Italy
  • 1996 - Northern Territory
  • 1995 - USA
  • 1993 - England, Wales, France, Japan
  • 1991 - USA
  • 1989 - Canada

Performances[edit]

The Australian Girls Choir is an organisation that trains 3500 girls aged between five and eighteen years in singing, dance and drama, across four states.

They have performed with Australian stars including John Farnham, Hugh Jackman, Delta Goodrem, Olivia Newton-John, Jet, INXS, Kate Ceberano, Melinda Schneider, David Campbell and Marina Prior; and they have entertained dignitaries including Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Over the years the choir have performed at events including:

  • State Reception Dinner for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh
  • Performance for Nelson Mandela at World Reconciliation Day Celebrations
  • Singing for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at the Parliament of the World’s Religions
  • Andre Rieu Australian Tour 2009
  • The ‘Boy from Oz’ Australian Tour with Hugh Jackman
  • 'G’Day USA’ Australia Week Celebrations in Los Angeles and New York – including performances with David Campbell, Olivia Newton-John and Jimmy Barnes
  • National Breast Cancer Foundation charity events in their role of Youth Ambassadors
  • Recording projects including collaboration with contemporary country music artist Melinda Schneider on the Golden Guitar nominated song ‘Courageous’, the Myer ‘Spirit of Christmas CD’ and a CD recording for ABC Music, 'Chasing Rainbows'.
  • Cultural performances including appearance with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
  • Sporting Events including the AFL Grand Final, Bledisloe Cup, Melbourne Cup, Grand Prix and Australian Open
  • Carols by Candlelight and Carols in the Domain
  • Television performances including Sunrise, Today, Mornings with Kerri-Anne, Saturday Disney and Kids WB

The Australian Girls Choir undertakes a national and international tour every year, and has visited Canada, USA, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, and all over Australia.

G'Day LA[edit]

The choir has been invited to perform and represent QANTAS at the Australia Week G'Day LA celebrations in America organised by Tourism Australia and QANTAS.[17]

2010 was the seventh year the choir has been invited to perform at the event. Senior choristers sang at the Black-Tie Gala Dinner. The girls joined with members of the National Boys Choir of Australia and the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir to perform including a finale of ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ with Olivia Newton-John and Jimmy Barnes. The girls also sang for local school children at Laurence School who learnt about Australia as part of their school curriculum.

References[edit]

External links[edit]