Fifty is a lot of years. And the span of years from 1964 to 2014 was always destined to be acknowledged.
A dinner, held at the Boulevard in Kew, was an ideal function to celebrate the occasion. With a guest list boasting original choristers and staff to OAM’s and many Choir friends, an evening of nostalgia was enjoyed by all who attended.
Mrs Lynnette Casey-Brereton, former wife of the founder Kevin Casey, was called on to share memories of the early days of the Choir, when rehearsals were held in the living room of the family’s Chadstone home and the first concert was held on the front veranda of the home with family and friends spilling across the garden – and the intervening years as rehearsal venues changed to suit the growing number of choristers. She spoke of the early repertoire and development to what the boys sing today – classical, contemporary, staged children’s operas, musical comedy, art songs and folk songs from around the world.
Lynnette’s reflections offered a little insight into the dedication and passion of the people who drove those early days of development, leading to the internationally recognised organisation we see on stage today.
Mrs Yvonne Bird OAM – the longest serving Treasurer and driving force behind the purchase of the current Ringwood premises – spoke of early Choir Music Camps, how, why and where they started – ten days during the (then) extended January school holidays. Camps were initially held at Mirboo North in country Victoria and later at Scots School, Bathurst, central NSW.
These early annual music camps consolidated repertoire preparation in the mornings, followed by fun in the pool or on the volleyball courts in the afternoons, with vaudeville style concerts in the evening but most importantly – the lolly shop – the highlight of every chorister’s camp experience!
Three school terms were extended to four in the late 1980s and ten day January camps changed to three or four weekend camps during the year held a little closer to home in Bayswater. With the purchase of the current premises in Ringwood and the luxury of three studios on site, the overnight camps became three to four weekend workshops.
Choristers, old and new, were able to reminisce and recall their own special memories, browse an amusing display of archival material and dance to the music of the Pearly Shells, all in the company of families and friends.
Qantas acknowledged the 50th milestone with a short 60 second inflight video (see below) shown as part of their inflight programme during the month of May. Their Inflight magazine also ran an article on the occasion.