About Us

COMMUNITY CHOIR

We are a friendly community choir that welcomes new members with or without experience. No audition necessary.  Come and try for 2 weeks (no rehearsal fees).

We meet on Tuesday evenings from 7.30 – 9pm in the Western Common Room at Armidale Teachers’ College.

Armidale Teachers' College

OUR OBJECTIVES

We encourage community participation and foster friendships through singing together

With no formal auditions, the choir is open to anyone who loves to sing

We explore diverse repertoire to maintain interest and support contemporary composers

We endeavour to perform with the Armidale Symphony Orchestra annually in a major choral work

We find opportunities to perform at local events with local professional musicians

We give young talented singers an opportunity to perform as soloists with us

We love to welcome new members to the choir.  Come along to one of our rehearsals and meet the members.  Contact us for more details

OUR history

The Armidale Choral Society as we know it today was formed in 1971. Its immediate precursor was the University Choral Society, which was formed during the late 1950’s by Campbell Howard who was a lecturer at the Armidale Teacher’s College. He later moved to Tamworth but continued to conduct the choir on campus by travelling up to Armidale for rehearsals on Monday evenings

The earliest rehearsals were held in Booloominbah, upstairs in the original billiards room, which at that time was being used as a lecture room. There was no piano in this room, and Lois Kesteven used to come to rehearsals to ‘give the note’. (She had ‘perfect pitch’).

On completion of the new Union building, rehearsals moved to what was then the new staff common room, on the western side of the western courtyard. The group comprised academic and clerical staff (and their partners), students and interested townsfolk: anyone who wanted to be involved in choral singing. The repertoire at this time was made up of songs and madrigals, and there was a performance of Bach’s Peasant Cantata.

During the 1960’s Campbell Howard relinquished the baton to Neville Meale, who had arrived to teach music at the Teachers’ College during the 1950’s. With the advent of the Music Department at UNE, it was no longer seen as appropriate for townspeople to sing in the campus choir. Consequently, rehearsals moved to the music room of the Teachers’ College, under the baton of Neville Meale.

The choir has always attracted most singers when the performance of large choral works has been scheduled. Handel’s Messiah, and settings of the masses by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven have been high points. 

Graham Maddox

Guest conductor, Professor Graham Maddox, has conducted the Armidale Choral Society 23 times, beginning in 1981.

Works by Vaughan Williams (Five Tudor Portraits, and Hodie) and Benjamin Britten’s StNicolas and Noye Fludde as well as Brahm’s German Requiem, Faure’s Requiem and Mozart’s Requiem, have been popular with singers and audiences alike.  The performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C in St Mary’s Cathedral in October 1976, and April 1977 was, as the recording attests, an especially pleasing achievement on the part of both orchestra and choir.

Occasionally, Neville Meale asked someone else to take the baton. Elizabeth Wadleigh, also of the Teachers’ College staff, introduced the choir to some more contemporary music. Since Neville’s retirement at the end of 1981, the choir has had no ‘resident’ conductor, but has been privileged to work with many talented musicians and amongst these have been Wendy Huddleston, Graham Maddox, Janis Laurs, Peter Maddox, David Gee, Deidre Rickards, Laurie Pulley, and Terry Norman. We have also enjoyed distinguished accompanists, including Wendy Huddleston, Robyn Driscoll, Robyn Bradley, Wendy Nano, Renate Turrini and Keith Power. These lists are not exhaustive, but serve to show that the distinction between “Town” and “Gown” has not been very firmly drawn! Rehearsal venues have changed over the years, moving from the Teachers’ College to Armidale High School, and currently to the Music Room at PLC.

From its earliest days, the Choral Society has enjoyed working with the Armidale Symphony Orchestra and this fine tradition continues with an annual performance of a major choral work together.  Smaller chamber ensembles drawn from the orchestra have also frequently accompanied the choir.

In November 2022, the choir and full orchestra performed Cherubini’s Requiem in c minor with Robert van Gend conducting, whilst in April 2023, he conducted Vivaldi’s Gloria RV589 and 2 Bach chorales and this was accompanied by 9 players from the orchestra. It was the first concert of the biennial Armidale Bach Festival. Inge Southcott has taken up the baton for the next concert in August 2023 with Sheila Guymer accompanying on piano.

Inge Southcott conducting a rehearsal

Inge Southcott, former President, conducting the 2023 program.