The 46th Intervarsity Choral Festival: SYDNEY, 20 January–5 February 1995

Patron: Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair
Chorusmasters: Ben Macpherson, Neil McEwan
Accompanists: Katherine Gibbney, Andrew Basile
Camp Venue: Merroo Conference Centre, Kurrajong Heights/Wesley and Women’s Colleges, University of Sydney
FIBS: STUDMUFFIN (Sydney’s Totally Ubiquitous Directions Manifested Unto Fumbling Friends In Need)


Convenor: Craig Miller
Secretary: Deborah Grace
Treasurer: Sarah O’Brien
Camp Officer: Melanie Smith
ConMan: Juliette Scott
Fundraising: Jenny Gressier
Librarian: Alex Maroya
Publicity: Peter Tsoulos
Social Secretary: Liz Pope
Transport & Billeting: Annabel Creevey
Sponsorship: Corinna Horrigan
General Assistant: Damien Kuan
SUMS President: Dean Rancewycz


8pm, 27 Jan.; 2.30pm, 29 Jan., Sydney Opera House Concert Hall
Conductor: Sir Charles Mackerras
Soloists: Gillian Sullivan, Gerald English, John Pringle
Program: Beethoven Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Beethoven Symphony No.7, Orff Carmina Burana
Notes: For the ABC and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, “Summer Nights with the SSO”
Reviews: Fred Blanks, “An explosion of passion and energy”, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Jan. 1995, s.I: 3. “Few choral works of this century, perhaps none, can engender as immediate a sense of rhythmic and melodic exhilaration as does Carmina Burana … Here is a kind of instant music, as unlike the genuine thing as instant coffee … Fortunately, the performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a choir of 270 voices mostly from various Australian universities currently singing and socialising together in Sydney … was so charged with energy and passion by conductor Sir Charles Mackerras that not only newcomers to this music (and there cannot be many of those …) but returnees must have felt that thrill … But what really electrified the music apart from the brisk tempos was excellent choral attack throughout … and for the return of Fortune’s Wheel, the music became positively orgasmic.”

Laurie Strachan, “Carmina Burana”, Australian, 31 Jan. 1995. “The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s programmers took advantage of the large number of choristers in town for the Intervarsity Choral Festival to put on two performances … and were rewarded with full houses and a popular triumph. Some choral works can sag under the weight of so many voices, but in this case the sheer power produced by 280 singers only added to the appeal of the performance, giving much needed strength and excitement to the rather too familiar O Fortuna chorus … and extra zing to other segments like the beautiful Flora Silva Nobilis. The chorus tends to dominate the piece until near the end … but fortunately the combined choirs were more than up to their heavy workload … Beethoven’s second movement is in the heroic mould of Fidelio, and the Intervarsity singers sang it ‘can belto’, but to great effect.”

David Brown, “Choral triumph”, Australian Jewish News, n.d. “The Intervarsity Choral Festival Choir (a quick head count revealed 240 members) superbly prepared by Ben Macpherson and Neil McEwan, gave everything they had, and to quite splendid effect … Indeed, the choral singing rose marvellously to climaxes—grand and joyously ebullient. This was a performance with a great many explosions of passionate energy throughout.”


2.30pm, 5 Feb., Sydney Town Hall
Conductor: Graham Abbott
Soloists: Gillian Sullivan, Robert Dawe
Program: Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture, Britten Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes", Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony
Notes: With the Sydney Youth Orchestra
Review: Fred Blanks, “Mighty is the sea”, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Feb. 1995: 16. “Major English choral works appeared during the early decades of this century with the frequency [with which] ripe plums fall from the trees in a prolific orchard … Few survive infancy … One happy exception … was the Sea Symphony by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and it received a performance of great conviction and conscientious attentiveness from the Sydney Youth Orchestra and the 46th Intervarsity Choral Festival Choir conducted with every sign of authority by Graham Abbott … It has the dimensions of a leviathan as regards weight, length and power, and requires appropriate forces … This performance engaged some 250 voices … and there were passages, quite long ones, when the sheer penetrating volume of their singing acted rather like a vocal battering ram … It was a pleasure to hear such a large choir in an age where large choirs are unfashionable … ”

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