History

2021

  • Performances and performance venues remained constrained due to continuing COVID restrictions, with considerable creativity needed to locate viable venues and programs. Earth, Wind and Sea was held in St Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral under the baton of Nora Lewis.
  • Sounds of Somewhere, a cabaret style event planed for July and under the direction of Digby Barrow was postponed due to COVID. Despite many vicissitudes, the performance took place in September at Charles Darwin University Theatre, playing to full houses.
  • Due to the uncertainties created by COVID, in lieu of the planned classical work, a Christmas concert guided by Bishop Greg Anderson and entitled A Box of Christmas Crackers is in rehearsal and scheduled for late November at the Christ Church Cathedral. Similar to Christmas Fantasia in 2017, it promises something for everyone.
  • Darwin Chorale is justly proud of its contribution to community service. Within the framework of the 2021 NT Community Achievement Awards and in a strong field, we achieved semi-finalist status for Community Group of the Year.

2020

  • Chorale rehearsals and performances were suspended from March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The Chorale recommenced with a short concert in July 2020 - From a Distance, an outdoor event utilising the Charles Darwin University Amphitheatre and offered free to an enthusiastic general public delighted to again be part of a live performance. Preparation for the concert was particularly challenging since rehearsals had to conform to the COVID requirement of social distancing. Rehearsing a distance of 1.5 metres from the next choir member proved to be extremely demanding.
  • In late November with COVID requirements having eased a little, Seasons Greetings comprising carols and readings was held in St Mary’s Cathedral.

2019

  • The position of Conductor in Residence was trialled for the year.
  • On Palm Sunday, Christ Church Cathedral provided the setting for Faure’s Requiem, directed by Digby Barrow. In addition to this beautiful work the performance included Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude, once again illustrating acoustics highlighting the choir’s strengths.
  • A July cabaret, Chorale in Concert – Number One Pop Hits featured music predominantly from the 70’s-90’s, also demonstrating the ever-eclectic skills of Darwin Chorale.
  • The year culminated spectacularly in Carmina Burana, a collaborative venture with the major partners the Darwin Symphony Orchestra and Darwin Chorale, and including members from True Colours and Vox Crox choirs.

2018

  • A major re-writing of Darwin Chorale’s Constitution was completed and ratified, andthe Strategic Plan substantially revised.
  • An early highlight of the year was Vivaldi’s Gloria. This was performed in partnership with Melbourne’s Exaudi Choir led by Mark O’Leary in collaboration with Michael Loughlin, and conducted by Bishop Greg Anderson.
  • Michael Loughlin left Darwin Chorale in April. For the remainder of 2018, the role of Music Director was shared by Vivienne Tooms, Dr Greg Anderson, Nora Lewis and Digby Barrow.
  • In June, Nora Lewis directed Fiesta Latina in the Sanderson school hall - a program of chorally arranged Latin tunes, with dancers from Samba Darwin featuring as guest artists.
  • As part of the Armistice Centenary Commemoration, the Chorale performed Voices of Remembrance - a Territory Story of War and Peace, conceived and produced by Shalom Kaa. The performance was of particular significance because it expanded on the Chorale’s commitment of service to the community, reflecting its long association with ANZAC Day Dawn Services and Bombing of Darwin Remembrance Services. ‘Voices’ illustrated a departure from other performances by combining onstage actors, singers and even a band, in this instance, the Darwin City Brass Band.

2017

  • Michael Loughlin continued as the acting Music Director. As in other years, the versatility of the choir was reflected in its performances. In March,
  • Michael McNeill’s Pacific Requiem was performed in the Darwin Uniting Church. It formed part of the church’s dedication ceremonies of the Memorial of Reflection Pool, Peace Garden. The work premiered in New York in 2016 and featured traditional Latin text as well as folk songs from Japan, America and Australia.
  • Abba – a cabaret event ran very successfully over three nights in July, and in October a concert version of the musical Chess was performed. This proved to be a less familiar musical with Darwin audiences.
  • Christmas Fantasia provided a mixture of classical music and Christmas carols, including Vaughn Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, and Vivaldi’s Beatus Vir – something for everyone.

2016

  • Nora Lewis relinquished the Music Directorship of the Chorale for this year, and Michael Loughlin became the acting Music Director.
  • 2016 proved to be a particularly active year. In March, as part of a collaborative concert with the DSO (Dreams and Prayers), under Michael’s direction, the Chorale performed selected movements from Karl Jenkins’ powerful and beautiful Stabat Mater.
  • The Armed Man had been performed on Anzac Day in 2015 and due to its success, was repeated in April 2016.
  • The Beatles in Cabaret was a sell out in July.
  • In September in the newly refurbished Charles Darwin Theatre, the Chorale presented Mark Hulman’s work For the Term of his Natural Life, a composition based on Marcus Clarke’s famous novel of penal settlement in Australia.
  • The year culiminated with a second cabaret, A Jazzy Broadway Christmas.
  • On reflection, it was decided to limit cabarets or major stage shows to one per year. While most concerts were well received, the 2016 program was particularly demanding of the PerformanceCommittee, and of performers.

2015

  • In June following a gospel workshop open to the wider community led by Brisbane based Dynes Austin culminated in Darwin Goes Gospel, a free concert held at Christ Church Cathedral.
  • 2015 was a special year because it marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Darwin Chorale, very appropriately named our Pearl Anniversary. The sheer number of singers in the Chorale over the previous 30 years, approximately 950, was cause for serious celebration. 28 past members of the Chorale returned to the Top End from all over Australia, including the founding conductor, Dr. Dean Patterson, and inaugural president Mrs. Elizabeth Davidson. The Pearl Concert included favourites from over the years, some pieces specially featuring the Alumni singers, conducted by Dr. Patterson. 220 guests attended the Gala Dinner with a visual display of past programs, audio-visual reminiscences and a collage of film clips from past shows.
  • In October of this special anniversary year Darwin Chorale staged a one-night-only performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. This was billed as a ‘concert version’, however Stephen Kidd’s direction called for the main characters to be acting in full costume, creative choreography for the chorus, and dramatic theatrical lighting. A 16-piece pit orchestra accompanied the singers. The concert was a sell-out.
  • The Chorale ended the year with The Voice of Christmas at St Mary’s Cathedral.

2014

  • The year began with the Chorale’s contribution to Darwin City’s Bombing of Darwin commemoration ceremony. Darwin Chorale has contributed to this every year since the ceremony began in 2001.
  • In April, conducted by Nora Lewis, Jerusalem Passion was performed in the Christ Church Cathedral. In celebration of the birthday of St Cecilia, the patron of music and musicians, a St Cecilia’s Day concert was held on November 22nd. In addition to the joy of singing, service to the community is part of Darwin Chorale’s philosophy. In December, the choir contributed to events marking the 40th Commemoration of Cyclone Tracy.

2013

  • The Chorale adopted a new management structure with a Board and Performance Committee. The first Chair of the Board was Mr. Kevin Davis, AM. Part of the rationale behind this was to facilitate access to Government funding and grants.
  • A 2013 highlight was Handel’s Messiah, a joint performance between the Darwin Chorale and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. The event was notable for the addition of 12 of the singers from East Timor. These singers learned their parts in Dili, and came to Darwin three days before the performance for two rehearsals with the Chorale and orchestra.

2012

  • Most sadly, Jenny Scott died on January 25th. Jenny had been a driving force in the development of the Chorale as Darwin’s premier community choir. Through her vision and energy in attracting singers, developing supportive networks, promoting the Chorale in the Darwin Community, encouraging a wide variety of musical styles in performance, and in developing creative, collaborative projects, she secured a positive profile for the Chorale in future years.
  • The Chorale presented a Dry Season Concert Hats Off to Broadway, conducted by Michael Loughlin in the Graduation courtyard of Charles Darwin University, and in September took the Australian Horizons concert on a regional tour including Pine Creek, the Adelaide River Show Society Grounds, and the caravan/camping grounds in Jabiru.

2011

  • The Jenny Scott Annual Award for service to the Chorale was inaugurated and presented first to Jenny Scott in acknowledgement of her years of outstanding contributions to Darwin Chorale.
  • The Darwin Festival director invited the Darwin Chorale to present a production at the festival entitled Northern Voices, which would include choirs from several Top End multicultural groups (Philippine, Indonesian, Greek, African, Tiwi Strong Women, and the Timorese Choirs). Nora Lewis was tasked to teach and rehearse, separately and together, all the choirs, to sing in the language of each group in collaboration with the Chorale. Additionally, she was requested to write a piece for the combined 120-voice choir at the end of the show. This was called Breath of Earth, inspired by a visit to the Tiwi Islands in May that year by Nora and by Jenny Scott, who walked around the community of Nguiu to establish and secure good communications with the Tiwi Women’s Choir despite her then deteriorating health.

2010

  • The Chorale performed in Dili at the Chinese embassy, again with the two East Timorese choirs, and at the SE Asian/ Pacific Region annual Rotary Conference. The two main Chorale productions in 2010 were Faure’s Requiem in March in Christ Church Cathedral, and Fanshaw’s African Sanctus in October in the Darwin Entertainment Centre. Both were directed by Nora Lewis.
  • Later that year, Michael Loughlin joined the Chorale as Assistant Music Director.

2009

Two other choral collaborations occurred with the Alice Springs Choral Society for Carmina Burana, and the Sydney Pilgrim Singers for items of sacred music at Christ Church Cathedral.

2008

On the initiative of Committee President Jenny Scott, Darwin Chorale entered into a collaborative choral project with two church choirs from Dili in East Timor - Coro Santa Cecilia de Balide and Coro Santo Antonio de Motael. This involved reciprocal visits by the two choirs to Dili and Darwin for the next 3 years. The first major engagement was at the Darwin Festival in 2008 called Cantor Timor. The feature piece entitled Ola Timor commissioned specially for the festival was composed by Nora Lewis.

2007

July of 2007 saw a further collaboration with the International Guitar Festival. Under the music direction of Nora Lewis, and as part of a ‘Sunday Serenade’ the Choir performed Ariel Ramirez’s Missa Criolla, and Staccato Lightning by Darwin composer Kathy Applegate.

2006

Highlights included Jerusalem Passion performed in April at Christ Church Cathedral where the audience spilled out onto the grass outside the Cathedral. At DEC, Darwin Chorale and the Australian Army Band performed Stage and Screen Spectacular under the joint direction of Nora Lewis and Captain Liam Daly.

2005

The landmark performance for the Chorale this year occurred within the International Guitar Festival at Charles Darwin University. Nora Lewis was commissioned to write a work for guitars and choir, resulting in the six-part Savannah Suite. The separate movements were called ‘Outback Somewhere’, ‘Nature’s Theatre’, ‘The Old Banyan Tree’, ‘Boogie for the Dry’, ‘Namatjira’ and ‘The Night Train’. Lyricists included Nora Lewis, Des Fishlock, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and Henry Lawson.

2004

A particular highlight of this year was the showcasing of members’ music skills. The Christmas concert at Christ Church Cathedral featured the very Reverend Greg Anderson conducting Messe de Minuit pour Noel and Michael Foley conducting Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo.

2003

In addition to community performances, under the baton of Assistant Music Director Dr. Bill Griffiths, the choir presented Chorale at St. Mary’s Cathedral. In collaboration with the Arafura Ensemble and members of the Darwin Youth Choir, Christmas saw Darwin Chorale present the delightful Amahl and the Night Visitors.

2002

Collaborative events took place with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, the International Guitar Festival, the Australia Day Council, and the Arafura Ensemble. Along with four community events, five concerts were performed this year.

1999-2008

In 1999 Superstar Productions was formed between the Darwin Entertainment
Centre, Darwin Chorale, Darwin Theatre Company and Cavenagh Theatre. During the
next decade staged productions included:
• Jesus Christ Superstar (1999)
• Les Misérables (2001)
• Fiddler on The Roof (2003)
• Guys and Dolls (2005)
• Sound of Music (2008)
Darwin Chorale continued to display considerable versatility with its concert performances illustrating a range of genres. A complete list of these can be found in the List of Programs.

2001

Dr. Dean Patterson leaves Darwin, and Nora Lewis is appointed Music Director. The Chorale continued a collaborative tradition via Africalive which included members of Darwin’s Africa choir.

2000

The Chorale visited Melbourne and participated in Choralfest; an annual choral festival organised by the Australian National Choral Association (ANCA). A highlight was the opportunity to sing in the historic St Paul’s Cathedral.

1987 – 1999

During these years Darwin Chorale continued to build strengths through the variety and quality of its concert programs. Long term Music Director Nora Lewis describes these as including “cantatas and motets, operas and oratorios, hymns and anthems, folksongs, jazz, national songs, stage musicals and pop.” Highlights included Pirates of Penzance, Oklahoma, Choruslines, All that’s Jazz, Andrew Llyod Webber’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and the Brahms’ Requiem.

1986

Darwin Entertainment Centre opened, and significantly, Chorale's HMS Pinafore was its first staged production. Since then, the Chorale has made continuous use of DEC performance spaces for various concerts.

1985

  • Darwin Chorale was created with Dr. Dean Patterson appointed as its inaugural Music Director. The Choir’s first concert was an Easter performance of St John Passion (following the previous year's workshop conducted by Dean Patterson).
  • The Oratorio was accompanied by the Darwin String Orchestra which in 1987 became The Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

Sept 1984

  • A Special Music Workshop was organised by the Arts Council. Singers were drawn from the Combined Churches Choir.
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