Gondwana Choirs

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Sydney Children's Choir redirects here.
Gondwana Choirs
Orange-brown spiral pattern
Background information
Origin Sydney
Genres classical and contemporary choral art music for young people
Years active August 1989 (1989-08)–present
Associated acts Sydney Children’s Choir, Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir
Website www.gondwana.org.au

Gondwana Choirs is a unique leader in Australian choral performance, shaping the Australian sound through the creation and presentation of innovative new work and providing opportunities to all talented young Australians through world-class training by leading artists.

Gondwana Choirs comprises the most accomplished choral groups of young people in Australia. The organisation is now synonymous with performance excellence and has a well-deserved reputation for the highest standards of young people’s choral music in Australia and internationally. When Lyn Williams OAM created the Sydney Children’s Choir in 1989, she wanted audiences to experience the unique and captivating sound of a well-trained children’s choir. Since then, the organisation has grown to include Sydney Children’s Choir, Gondwana National Choirs and Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir, captivating audiences across Australia and the world.

The ensembles of Gondwana Choirs are known internationally for their purity of sound, engaging performance style, a courageous confidence and culture of risk. They undertake creative projects that have vastly impacted the artform and shaped the sound of Australian choral music. The lifeblood of their unique repertoire is a vast body of new work which has defined the Australian choral sound. The organisation has commissioned and premiered over 150 works by leading Australian composers, including Ross Edwards, Stephen Leek, Elena Kats-Chernin and Paul Stanhope, and presents predominantly Australian repertoire when touring nationally and internationally.

Gondwana Choirs has been involved in many noteworthy collaborations and performances with leading orchestras (Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, West Australian Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, YouTube Symphony, Israel Philharmonic and Australian World Orchestras), ensembles (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Synergy, Taikoz, Sirocco, Suara Indonesian Dance, the Soweto Gospel Choir and Martenistsa Choir) and artists (including Felix Riebl, Gurrumul, William Barton, Seaman Dan, Kev Carmody, Katie Noonan, Jessica Mauboy, Shaun Tan, Michael Leunig and Jeannie Baker.)

Singers from all three arms of the organisation, Sydney Children’s Choir, Gondwana National Choirs and Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir, have come together on several occasions, most notably in 2014 with Sydney Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere performances of Jandamarra: Sing for the Country by Paul Stanhope.

Gondwana Choirs has received many awards and recognition of their work, including the 2015 APRA/AMCOS award for Excellence by an Organisation for its artistic program in our 25th year,[1] and significant contribution to Australian music since 1989. Lyn Williams OAM was named in the 100 Women of Influence in 2015,[2] and is engaged nationally and internationally for her expertise in choral training.

Alumni of Gondwana Choirs are employed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Opera Australia and Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras and regularly appear at Pinchgut Opera, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. They contribute to Australia’s cultural life as composers, conductors, music teachers, pop artists, arts managers, board members of Australian arts organisations and Gondwana Choirs staff. They are medical professionals, business leaders and social justice advocates, and their lifelong love of music fostered by Gondwana Choirs draws them to become the next generation of arts philanthropists and audiences.

Gondwana Choirs consists of several different choirs.[3]

  • Sydney Children's Choir
  • Gondwana National Choirs, including:
    • Gondwana Voices (the national children's choir of Australia)
    • Gondwana Chorale (the national youth choir of Australia)
    • Gondwana Singers
    • Junior Gondwana
  • Gondwana Indigenous Children's Choir

Structure and constituents[edit]

Gondwana Choirs, founded in August 1989, is a not-for-profit company based in Sydney. It relies on support from the public, as well as government and philanthropic organisations to run its activities across Australia. As well as offering free musical education to young Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people through the Gondwana Indigenous Children's Choir, it offers bursaries to financially disadvantaged choristers in Sydney Children's Choir and the Gondwana National choirs.

Sydney Children's Choir is Gondwana Choirs' original choir,[4][5] offering weekly rehearsals to young people aged 6–17 from across Sydney. The Sydney Children’s Choir proudly represents Sydney as the most prestigious and well-known vocal program for young singers of school age. Founded as a single ensemble by Lyn Williams OAM in 1989, it now includes approximately 500 young people, in performing choirs and training ensembles. They are instantly recognised for their crystal clear sound and known for their precision and discipline, developing through regular training a courageous and compelling performance style.

The singers are intimately connected to contemporary and traditional repertoire throughout their training. They are deeply engaged in the creation and presentation of new work at all levels of the program, through collaborations with emerging and established composers. The body of work created over the past 26 years for the Sydney Children’s Choir is now integral to Australian choral education, and has supported the development of many Australian composers.

Sydney Children’s Choir regularly collaborate with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and other leading ensembles, with conductors including Charles Dutoit, Michael Tilson-Thomas, David Robertson and Vladimir Ashkenazy. They have performed for many high profile events including the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony, World Youth Day, Sydney Festival and the Youtube Symphony Orchestra.

International tours of the choir have included Japan, Finland and China. In 2013, the choir undertook its 10th and longest tour to Europe, with performances at the prestigious choral festival, Polyfollia, in Normandy; Notre Dame, Paris; Palau de la Mùsica, Barcelona; and in London at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. In 2015 the choir toured to mainland China and Hong Kong.

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 is the original, truly national Australian children's choir, founded in 1997[5] and 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; Amèrica 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.[6][7] Major tours include the United States and Canada (2011) and an invitation to represent Australia at the World Choral Summit in Beijing 2012.[8]:page 9 It undertook a tour to the Eastern Kimberley region of Australia in 2013 and completed a residency at the Taipei International Choral Festival in 2014. Gondwana Voices has also performed at major events such as the Melbourne Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies and recorded several CDs with ABC Classics.

- Gondwana Chorale, Australia’s national youth choir, 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.[8]:page 6 (2011) and UK and France (2013). In 2015 Gondwana Chorale released its debut recording, SOAR, and presents a program typical of the ensemble – a rich and varied collection of repertoire with a strong focus on contemporary Australian compositions which lies at the heart of Gondwana Choir’s ethos. The music on the disc ranges from the Spanish Renaissance to present day Australia, including Paul Stanhope’s Lament to St Cecilia, a technically demanding tour de force of emotional intensity commissioned for the choir in 2013 for its European Tour.

- Gondwana Singers is for young people aged 13–16, on the verge of gaining entry into Gondwana Voices or Gondwana Chorale, including boys with changed/changing voices as well as treble voices.

- Junior Gondwana is Gondwana Choirs' entry-level training choir which caters for children with treble voices aged 10–13 years old.

Gondwana Indigenous Children's Choir. Generously supported by its Principal Partner, Rio Tinto. Created in 2008 by Lyn Williams, the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir (GICC) is provided at no cost to participants, and its members strive for the pursuit of excellence and embrace life-changing opportunities. The GICC program gives voice to the diverse culture of Australia’s Indigenous youth, providing a vehicle to build identity through deep collaboration with local elders and community. At the core of GICC’s mission is the preservation and development of language and story through song, involving intergenerational cultural activity and developing a new contemporary Indigenous repertoire. Through the GICC program, Gondwana Choirs has commissioned and created new works, including many in Indigenous languages, notably the children’s opera Ngailu, Boy of the Stars by Sani Townson and Dan Walker. In 2016, a new work by Felix Riebl will be presented by GICC, drawing upon stories from the Pilbara region in Western Australia.

Their sound is unique, with a richness, warmth and strength that is now recognised and loved by audiences. GICC has collaborated with many of Australia’s most respected Indigenous artists performed nationally and internationally, including Gurrumul, William Barton, Seaman Dan, Jessica Mauboy, Christine Anu, Shelley Morris and Lou Bennett. They performed a key role in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra collaboration Jandamarra: Sing for the Country by Paul Stanhope, have performed for the G20 Finance Leaders’ Summit, Corroboree Festival, Business Council of Australia Dinners, and for the Australian War Memorial in Canberra at the Australian Defence Force ceremony recognising the contribution of Indigenous servicemen and women.

GICC has toured to the Kimberley, the Western Pilbara, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra and internationally to the China World Expo.

The GICC program is built on a foundation of choral hubs in Cairns and Western Sydney, and with new hubs planned in the coming years for Redfern and Darwin. Through a weekly commitment, choristers receive the same high level ongoing training as the Sydney Children’s Choir program, including ensemble rehearsals, sight-singing and music theory, presented by leading national choral artists.[9][10]

Associated activities[edit]

Each year in January, after national auditions, Gondwana Choirs runs a National Choral School, which is a two-week camp offering intensive rehearsals, workshops and activities, and culminating in two performances. Some of the national choirs may then undertake one or more tours throughout the year. Associated with the National Choral School is a Gondwana Composer School, for developing composers, and Gondwana Conducting Academy, for developing and established Choral Conductors.[11]

Honours and awards[edit]

Gondwana Choirs received the 2012 APRA/AMCOS Award for Excellence by an Organisation for its artistic program

Gondwana Choirs received the 2012 APRA/AMCOS Award for Excellence in a Regional Area for their Cairns Residency Project.[12]

Gondwana Choirs received the 2012 APRA/AMCOS Award for Excellence in Music Education for its 2011 Program.[13]

Founder and Artistic Director of Gondwana Choirs, Lyn Williams, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia "For service to the arts as founder and Director of the Sydney Children's Choir and Gondwana Voices".[14] In addition to also being awarded the Australian Centenary Medal,[15] Lyn Williams was named The Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 2015 100 Women of Influence in the category of Culture.




  1. ^ Atlas. "Art Music Award Winners | APRA AMCOS Australia". apraamcos.com.au. Retrieved 2016-02-15. 
  2. ^ "2015 Event | 100 Women of Influence". www.100womenofinfluence.com.au. Retrieved 2016-02-15. 
  3. ^ Gondwana National Choirs
  4. ^ Ford, Andrew; Williams, Lyn (23 June 2007). The Music Show (Podcast). Australia: Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Gondwana Choirs". Retrieved 25 January 2013. Sydney Children's Choir in 1989 and ... Gondwana Voices in 1997 
  6. ^ "BBC - Proms - Prom 13 2007". The Proms Archive. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Hall, George (24 July 2007). "BBCSO/Robertson, Royal Albert Hall, London | Music | The Guardian". The Guardian. London. 
  8. ^ a b Gondwana Choirs Ltd (2012). Annual Report 2011 (PDF). Annual report. Sydney. 
  9. ^ Gondwana National Indigenous Children's Choir
  10. ^ http://www.australianmusiccentre.com.au/article/a-new-direction-for-gondwana-choirs
  11. ^ "Gondwana Choirs". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "APRA|AMCOS : 2012 Award for Excellence in a Regional Area". Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Limited. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "2012 Award for Excellence in Music Education". Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Limited. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "It's an Honour - Honours - Search Australian Honours". It's an Honour website. 26 January 2004. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  15. ^ "It's an Honour - Honours - Search Australian Honours". It's an Honour website. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 25 January 2013. Citation: For service to the community 
  16. ^ Gondwana Voices, Sydney Children's Choir and Lyn Williams in Australia at the Internet Movie Database
  17. ^ Sydney Children's Choir in Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger at the Internet Movie Database
  18. ^ Sydney Children's Choir and Lyn Williams in Happy Feet at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]