Festival of Summer Voices

Choral Skills Lab

Thank you to everyone who made the Choral Skills Lab 2020 such a success!

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Come along to observe the many and varied choirs at National Choral School when all the choirs are just starting to develop the amazing choral sound you will hear in concert just one week later, in the Festival of Summer Voices. Watch Australia’s most experienced conductors teach new repertoire, observe how they fix problems with notes, tuning, blend, text and rhythm and obtain some insights into how to create an energetic rehearsal culture as they shape new ensembles with bright young choristers from all over Australia. There will be an opportunity to discuss and reflect on different aspects of the sessions including rehearsal techniques and the planning that goes into what you observe, to enrich the experience.

Guest presenter Naomi Crellin from The Idea of North shares her expertise in building skills and confidence in acapella singing, and Associate Artistic Director Sam Allchurch will facilitate a session on rehearsal pacing, and also present a special workshop on working with the changing male voice.

Thursday 9 January 2020 – Primary Focus

Session 1: 9.00am – 10.30am – Guided observation session

Gondwana Choirs staff will greet you and guide you through a program of observation of the younger treble choirs at National Choral School, including Junior Gondwana and Gondwana Novus. Through this observation, you can gain stimulating ideas for effective warm ups, repertoire selection, rehearsal structure, teaching and listening techniques, from a range of Australia’s leading choral educators, and working especially with treble voiced choristers aged from 10 – 14.

Session 2: 11.00am – 12.30pm – Rehearsal pacing
Sam Allchurch, Associate Artistic Director

Observe rehearsal sessions with several of our leading artistic staff, on new repertoire.

Associate Artistic Director Sam Allchurch will then lead a follow up session, unpacking the techniques each conductor applies to structure the rehearsal for the best possible learning and performing outcomes. A unique opportunity for deep insight into the Gondwana Choirs culture.

Session 3: 2.00pm – 3.30pm – Harmonising 101
Naomi Crellin, The Idea of North 

Holding a harmony part comes easily to some people and not others. The musical ‘ear’ with which each of us is gifted plays a significant role, as does our family of origin and musicality of upbringing. People who struggle to hold a part can often feel very in the dark about the whole process, like it’s something that will permanently be out of their grasp. And people to whom harmony comes naturally are often unaware of the mechanics of how they are doing what they’re doing when they harmonise, so are unable to apply their innate knowledge to improving their skills. Music theory, aural and sight-reading training, plays a fundamental role in shining a light on the complexities and intricacies of harmony singing, whether or not you’re a strong harmoniser. This academic training brings focus and clarity to the process of holding a part and allows singers a greater level of independence and confidence in their harmonising abilities. Even the simplest, most basic level of theoretical training can be hugely beneficial to attaining a higher level of part-holding skill. This workshop takes singers through the fundamentals of theory, aural and sight reading as it pertains to vocal harmony in a fun, non-threatening environment that will help singers join the dots between their brains, ears and larynxes.

Session 4: 4.00pm – 5.00pm – Sight singing resources

The Gondwana Choirs acclaimed choral training program is presented by artistic team includes many of Australia’s leading choral educators. In this session, you will be guided by Mark O’Leary through some of the great resources available to develop sight singing and music theory skills. His Sight Singing School online resource is designed for both children and adults, for teachers and students, for groups and individuals. Choir members, singing students, professional singers, music teachers, music classes and instrumentalists will all benefit from improving their sight singing, and therefore their aural skills.

5.15pm – 6.00pm – Q and A with Gondwana Junior & Novus Conductors

Review the learning of the day in a Q&A session with many of the artistic team you observed during the day. This is your chance to unpack the sessions and focus especially on repertoire and techniques for younger or treble only ensembles. Whether they be questions about what you have observed in their rehearsals or performances, their choice of repertoire, their approach to creating their choral sound or more practical matters about running choirs in schools, the community and at a professional level. In addition to the structured Q and A session, there will be time to speak personally with the conductors.

Completing this day (Course code GNCS2020 – Day 1) will contribute 6 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 6.2.2, 6.3.2, 7.4.2, as well as assisting with 3.3.2 and 3.4.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Friday 10 January 2020 – Secondary Focus

Session 1: 9.00am – 10.30am – Guided observation session

Gondwana Choirs staff will greet you and guide you through a program of observation of the more senior choirs at National Choral School, including and our leading national treble choir, Gondwana Voices, SATB ensembles Gondwana Singers & Gondwana Chorale, and Gondwana Collective – a special combined treble ensemble rehearsing to perform in the 2020 World Choral Symposium. Observe their varied approaches to effective warm ups, repertoire selection, rehearsal structure, teaching and listening techniques, and much more.

Session 2: 11.00am – 12.30pm – The changing male voice
Sam Allchurch, Associate Artistic Director

Sam leads a session particularly focussed on how to support the changing male voice, an area of particular expertise as the conductor of the Sydney Children’s Choir’s Young Men’s Choir. As each voice changes in a different way, we take care to guide choristers through this process. As the boys learn to use their new instruments, repertoire and performance opportunities are carefully matched to the ensemble. Learn about appropriate repertoire, rehearsal techniques, and ways to support these emerging voices.

Session 3: 2.00 – 3.30pm – Harmony Finesse
Naomi Crellin, The Idea of North 

Australia is packed full of choirs and vocal ensembles of all ages all striving for excellence, finesse and the enjoyment that comes from creating harmony with fellow humans. This workshop explores a wide range of techniques to take your group to the next level – be it vocal technique, stylistic interpretation, performance presentation or even building and maintaining membership. Come with a problem and receive advice on how to navigate to the other side where the solutions lie.

Session 4: 4.00 – 6.00pm – Q and A with NCS Conductors
The Artistic Staff of National Choral School

This is your chance to hear from the brains trust of the artistic staff of National Choral School on all aspects of choral music. Whether they be questions about what you have observed in their rehearsals or performances, their choice of repertoire, their approach to creating their choral sound or more practical matters about running choirs in schools, the community and at a professional level. In addition to the structured Q and A session, there will be time to speak personally with the conductors.

Completing this day (Course Code GNCS2020 – Day 2) will contribute 6.5 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 6.2.2, 6.3.2, 7.4.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Tuesday 14 January

Teaching Composition in the classroom – a special event led by Paul Stanhope.

16:00-17:30:        Seminar with Paul Stanhope
17:30 – 19:00     Dinner – supply own meal from local vendors or bring your own
19:00-20:00         In-house concert, featuring world premiere performances of new works

Gondwana Choirs has a long history of commissioning new work and supporting the creation of a body of work especially for young Australian voices. Over the 30 years since Sydney Children’s Choir was first established, hundreds of works have been premiered by our choirs, and many emerging and established composers have developed their choral style in collaboration with our artists.

In 2011, we established the Composer School as part of National Choral School, and this is a truly unique opportunity for emerging composers to develop their craft during two intensive weeks in January. Under the expert guidance of leading composers Paul Stanhope (Associate Professor, Sydney Conservatorium of Music), participants in the Composer School will be mentored in the first week throughout the entire creative process, including composition, revision, rehearsal, workshopping, performance and recording.

Composers receive a brief to each write a piece in just seven days for one of the resident choirs at National Choral School. Each composer is mentored through this process by Paul Stanhope, leading to a concert in which each composer’s piece performed by their choir.

Join us to hear the results of this work – participants of this Professional Development session are exclusively invited to attend this in-house concert of the new works, listen to the composers as they are interviewed by Paul about their inspiration and process, and attend a special seminar with Paul Stanhope before the concert. In this exclusive seminar, Paul will cover the following areas:

How to encourage and up-skill the next generation of choral composers.
What are the challenges and skill-gaps for students interested in pursuing composition study?
How can teachers participate in life-long learning in this space?

This session is particularly suitable for teachers of senior music students, especially those preparing compositions for HSC or similar, and also those potentially aiming for tertiary study in composition. This is a new addition to Gondwana National Choral School – share this with your music education networks and help us spread the word!

Completing this session (Course code GNCS2020 – Day 3) will contribute 2.5 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 6.2.2, 6.3.2, 6.4.2, 7.4.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Pricing

Single Day $125 + Booking Fee
Two Day $224 + Booking Fee
Bonus Session $40 + Booking Fee

Special Offer
We have taken on board feedback from past participants and kept the Choral Skills Lab days separate to the concert evenings.
Discounted tickets to all Festival concerts will be available to Choral Skills Lab registrants.

Reserve your spot today!

Junior Gondwana @ National Choral School 2019

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