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8 October 2014

The Song Company's 30 years

The Song Company's 30 years

The Song Company celebrates its 30th anniversary this Thursday with a concert featuring a composite mass in which each movement is written by a different composer: Graeme Koehne, Ross Edwards, Dan Walker, Stephen Cronin, and Gerard Brophy. The individual components of the mass will be interspersed with brief words from various past participants in The Song Company's 30-year-history.

Acclaimed didjeridu player and composer William Barton will join The Song Company for this concert. The program will also include Gregorian chant and music by Rachmaninov.

The performance marks the retirement of The Song Company's long-standing bass, Clive Birch, who will leave the ensemble in December after 25 years. The current line-up also includes Susannah Lawergren (replaced in Thursday's concert by Alex Oomens), Anna Fraser, Hannah Fraser, Richard Black and Mark Donnelly, as well as the artistic director Roland Peelman.

The Song Company's first performance took place in July 1984. The initiative to establish a professional vocal ensemble came from Sydney Philharmonia's artistic director Peter Seymour, who invited Charles Colman to be the first director of the new ensemble. After auditions throughout Australia, the initial octet was formed with Margaret Schindler, Romola Tyrrell, Susan Gotts, Narelle Tapping, James Bonnefin, Adrian Brand, Martin Cooke and Stephen Bennett.

Over the years, artists such as Jo Burton, Jane Edwards, David Hamilton and Brett Weymark have also sung in the ranks of The Song Company. After ill-health forced Charles Colman to resign in 1988, the group became a sextet led by John Grundy. Roland Peelman was appointed as artistic director in early 1990.

Commissions from living composers had been an important part of the Company's vision from the beginning, and under Peelman's leadership the ensemble has continued to commission, premiere and record numerous new Australian works (for some of these, see the listing here). The Company also seeks to nurture emerging composers through MODART, their biennial young composer forum, supported by the Australian Music Centre.

Singers of The Song Company and Roland Peelman
at Sydney Grammar School on 9 October 2014. © Peter Hislop

Further links

The Song Company 30th Anniversary Concert
Sydney Grammar School, 9 October at 7pm
All event details - AMC Calendar
See also: The Song Company website

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