Archive for category: Other News

Back-To-Day

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2014 Co–Captains Austin Haynes & Caleb Beilharz lead the singing

Fifty years may provoke many memories for hundreds of young men who have passed through our doors, but to the 180 boys currently singing with the National Boys Choir of Australia it means celebrating with a party!

That’s exactly what we did on Sunday 12 October – at the Ringwood premises of the Choir. The day was primarily a celebration for the current families and friends to share a little history of the organisation. There was a pictorial recap of 50 years running on the big screen, with a display of memorabilia including past choir uniforms, concerts, tours and copious newspaper clippings that have been amassed over the years available for guests to peruse in the Bird Studio.

BackToDay4The younger training choirs – the Elementary and Junior boys – and the older Performing boys all had a sing during the day. There was an assortment of refreshments and entertainment for all including a giant slide – popular with young and old! A balloon-ologist kept the younger folk amused. And of course a birthday party needs a cake! The occasion was acknowledged by over 300 voices joining to sing Happy Birthday.

We congratulate everyone who has contributed – from Kevin Casey who had the foresight to start the Choir and to all the people along the way who have supported the Choir’s development, creating the internationally recognised organisation we see on stage today.

We look forward to the next 50 years.

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Artistic Directors Peter Casey (L) and Philip Carmody, with Prefect Will Dixon and Co-Captain Caleb Beilharz catching up on 50 years of history

Anniversary Dinner

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.

Cutting the cake - L-R Lynnette Casey-Brereton, Rex Wenn, NBCA President, & Yvonne Bird OAM

Cutting the cake – L-R Lynnette Casey-Brereton, Rex Wenn, NBCA President, & Yvonne Bird OAM

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.

The Dinner

Peter Brereton, Samantha Casey, Christine Casey, Rick Casey, Janelle Casey, Kieran & Tania Casey, Lynnette Casey-Brereton, Kathleen Casey, Peter Casey, Jacquie Casey & Damien Casey

Peter Brereton, Samantha Casey, Christine Casey, Rick Casey, Janelle Casey, Kieran & Tania Casey, Lynnette Casey-Brereton, Kathleen Casey, Peter Casey, Jacquie Casey & Damien Casey

The Dinner

Paul Thomas, Heather Thomas, Peter Chen, Julia Zhu

Paul Thomas, Heather Thomas, Peter Chen, Julia Zhu

The Dinner

Kerry Blake, Ben Namdarian, Paul Bateman

Kerry Blake, Ben Namdarian, Paul Bateman

The Dinner

Kerrin Hancock, Mark Casey, Gwen Casey

Kerrin Hancock, Mark Casey, Gwen Casey

The Dinner

Harold and Yvonne Bird

Harold and Yvonne Bird

Chris Rankin, Nelson Choy, Peter Casey, Alex Lytas, Nick Hughes, Rory Hutchinson

Chris Rankin, Nelson Choy, Peter Casey, Alex Lytas, Nick Hughes, Rory Hutchinson

The Dinner

Back, Carmel Trecate, Lauren Gates, Julie Holliday Front, Pam Yee, Anne-Marie Smith, Melissa Astbury

Back, Carmel Trecate, Lauren Gates, Julie Holliday Front, Pam Yee, Anne-Marie Smith, Melissa Astbury

The Dinner

Andrew Paterson, Daniel Riley and Chris Rankin

Andrew Paterson, Daniel Riley and Chris Rankin

Kevin Casey – Choir Founder

Kevin studied singing and piano at Melbourne University’s Conservatorium of Music and he went on to take prominent parts in television operas such as Simon Boccanegra, Martha, Peter Grimes and School for Fathers for the ABC. He also performed as a soloist and ensemble singer in many ABC radio programmes. He appeared in a Master Class with French baritone Gerard Souzay and later moved into a teaching career at Kostka Hall and then Burke Hall, both junior schools of Xavier College.

He taught singing from home in his ‘spare’ hours outside of school commitments and always had an enthusiastic band of students. Kevin became an examiner for the AMEB and was in demand as an adjudicator for eisteddfods in Melbourne and country areas. He returned to Melbourne University to join the vocal teaching staff and continued to teach privately for almost all of his adult life.

You may have heard Kevin’s voice more than you realise – he was always proud of the fact that he was one of a small group of men who recorded the VFL team songs (now AFL) for all of the teams in the 1960s. His voice can still be heard blasting out at the MCG when the ‘traditional’ team songs (some clubs still use these original versions) are played!

Back to – Sunday 12 October 2014

For people who were unable to attend the recent Anniversary Dinner, or indeed anyone who would like to see our Ringwood home, there has been a Back To day arranged for Sunday 12 October. This promises to be a day of fun for our current choristers as well so that they can join in the celebrations. We will have more news on this in coming months.

The National Boys Choir of Australia has been fortunate to be one of the few (if not the only) choirs in the country to own their own premises, due to the sensible and thrifty management of funds during those early years. Unit 3, 9 Pilgrim Court was purchased 1993 and after 12 months of parent volunteer working bees the building opened for rehearsals in 1994.

A working relationship with Qantas began in 1998. The profile of the Choir increased, prompting the introduction of another training level -the Elementary choir. It wasn’t long before the building became too small and expansion was on the horizon. The adjoining unit was purchased, walls knocked out and two more studios, wardrobe and storage added to the premises.

Our friends at ConnectEast have shared the following….

ConnectEast, the owner and operator of EastLink, congratulates the National Boys Choir of Australia on its fiftieth anniversary celebrations, which will include the Back to Ringwood Day on 12 October. EastLink opened in June 2008 and has contributed to quicker and easier travel to and from the Choir’s Ringwood location in the six years since.

ConnectEast’s involvement with the National Boys Choir of Australia began as a sponsor of the children’s opera, Lost to the Music, performed on 23 July 2009 at the Melbourne Recital Centre. The performance was created by Calvin Bowman and featured a libretto by acclaimed Australian children’s author John Marsden. ConnectEast’s contribution assisted with costs such as librettist’s fee, director’s costs in creation of design and direction for the production, sets and props, and costumes. ConnectEast has since provided sponsorship funding for the annual Christmas concert between 2010 and 2013 and we have increased our support in 2014 to help celebrate the Choir’s fiftieth anniversary.

New Old Boys

Before 2014 slips by, we must acknowledge our ‘New Old Boys’ – those retiring gents from 2013. Sadly this seems to come around all too quickly – another night at Colombo’s Restaurant on a hot December evening sharing pizza and pasta. The following 30 boys are already missed and we look forward to some of them returning for our annual Christmas concert later in the year.

Lucas Aparo, Joe Bourke, Luke Carroll, Adam Casamento, Cyrus Chan, Vance Chao, Tim Davis, Julian Dods, Lucas Dunoon, Harrison Ede, Saksham Ganatra, Theo Gong, Joseph Lam, Matthew Lee, Tom Lerk, Oscar Levi, Hualong Li, Liam O’Donnell, Theodore Ong, Jack Ooi, Hugh Radcliffe-Smith, Benjamin Reed, Lachlan Roper, Daniel So, Dan Tran, Luke Tork, Christopher Turner, Ross Winter, Thomas Yao, David Youings.

2014 Fun Run

Metlife Charter Conference – 23 March 2014

Metlife, an American based financial services business, invited the boys to participate in the opening celebration of their conference. 20 boys and three staff travelled to Sydney overnight. The venue for this year’s performance was the beautiful old Sydney Town Hall – the balcony of Centennial Hall was the choir’s stage.

NBCA Celebrates 50 Years

Celebrating50YearsIn 2014 the Choir will celebrate 50 years of music-making. This is a wonderful achievement and we intend to celebrate throughout the year. Our 50th logo appears here for the first time and it will be featured regularly over the next twelve months. We also have a Facebook page up and running as we wish to get the celebratory message out to the Choir’s current and former communities. This can be found at www.facebook.com/nationalboyschoir.

Any assistance you can offer in spreading the word would be appreciated. Perhaps you could forward the email edition of Encore to Choir friends who may not be on our database. If you have any thoughts regarding our 50th year events or memorabilia, please contact the Choir office.

One highlight will be a 50th Dinner to be held on Saturday May 3 2014. We would very much like to welcome former staff, choristers, family and Choir friends to that special evening. Pop the date in the diary or on the calendar, and perhaps chase up former Choir contacts and friends to see if you can arrange a table for the dinner.

We will have further details in coming editions of Encore.

NBCA Staff Profile – Mrs Alexandra Boemo

Do you ever wonder what makes people do the work they do? Well, with this question in mind, I recently approached Mrs Alexandra Boemo, the NBCA Elementary and Junior Chorister Director with a list of questions in hand hoping to gain a little insight.

How did you get started in music/what was your introduction to music?

My Nana was a singer and my Mum is a singer (she has sung in opera with Mr Casey, Mrs Casey, Mr Tutty and Ben Namdarian, and in the Melbourne Chorale with Mr Finnigan) and they both played the piano – so music is in my blood. Mum took me to her singing teacher when I was 5 to start piano lessons. After a couple of years with her I moved to another teacher, closer to home, who I studied with until I went to University. I studied piano and voice at Melbourne State College along with Mr Casey and Mrs Tenace as we learned to be music teachers.

What do you enjoy the most about working with NBCA?

I really like working with young people-perhaps because they are like sponges and don’t “know everything” yet. I also love to work with Mrs Tenace, as we became good friends at college and were very happy to end up at the NBCA together!

What do you enjoy the least (…find the most challenging?) about working with NBCA?

Do you want me to be serious! …. anyway – I do miss working with lots of girls. I went to a girls school and taught in an all-girls school for 7 years and I like the way they chatter/giggle and the merry banter of girls. The other thing I find challenging is not having the boys for more than 2 years – so we don’t have a lot of time to develop together as a group with only 1 hour a week.

What is your favourite piece/work that you have done while at NBCA?

I like the stage and I like songs to have colour/ effect and drama which can be created by lighting and other staging effects – so I think my favourite junior performance was when we used candles in a song called Firefly and the lights were suddenly blacked at the end of the piece. It was fun and very effective.

My favourite Performing Choir moment was in China at the conservatorium – at the end of one of the concerts after the boys sang the Rutter Lord Bless You they were swamped by the audience who were all overcome at how wonderful the boys were.

What have been some of the challenges that you have overcome in your life?

I believe that our lives are enriched by the challenges we meet and overcome. Be they little or big, sometimes we don’t even perceive the challenge until others point it out! When I was in year 12 one of my brothers suddenly died – just before exams – that was a big loss and I still miss him every day, but it has helped me to understand how loss can affect other people and how we should make the most of every minute we have. Musically I was always petrified to perform in front of an audience – my leg would shake so hard it would hit the side of the piano stool – until I went to college and had to do it twice every term. Eventually my fear subsided and once I realised that as an accompanist, and now as a conductor, no-one looks at you, performance became much easier!

Recently you probably all know that I have been diagnosed with a bone cancer called Multiple Myeloma. The average person to develop this disease is a 65 year old male – so I thought that was pretty typical – me not trying to do things the normal way! I had a stem cell transplant last year and am on a drug which has been very successful at pushing back the cancer and now keeping it at a very low rate. Hopefully it will continue to do that for a long time!

I still think performing in front of other people is harder!

How do you get into trouble when you’re not at NBCA?

I teach piano at home to 10 students and at Ringwood Secondary College to about 14. The rest of the time I manage the Boemo Family – that is Stephanie, Nicola, Michaela, Christopher, Roxy the dog and Pekoe, the cat, as well as numerous birds and fish.

My main other activity is to be the assistant production director for Melbourne Gang Show – which is a branch of the Scout/Guide Associations that trains young people in theatrical arts. We write, produce and perform a 2 story production each year with 140 cast and about 100 other volunteers in staging, lighting, costumes and administration.

Finish this sentence: I’d absolutely love to….

Do another Qantas campaign – and get to see some more wonderful places with the choir! I went to Burra and The Bungle Bungles on two Qantas ad shoots: both places I have never been to and am unlikely to go again, but really loved.

2013 Choir Tour

42 boys are off for a ‘mini’ overseas tour … they are off to Tasmania in the first week of the September school holidays. The last time the Choir visited Tasmania was 2001 – so their visit is long overdue.

The boys will commence their 7 day tour in Devonport before working their way south via Launceston and Orford. In Hobart the boys will have a concert in St Mary’s Cathedral before donning their ambassadorial togs for a visit to Government House, where they will meet His Excellency, The Honourable Peter Underwood AC, Governor of Tasmania and Mrs Underwood.

Of course there are many anticipated sightseeing opportunities in store for the boys – we look forward to hearing all about their travels on their return.