About the Choir
It was the year when three American astronauts were launched to the moon. But in Canberra, 1969 also marked the launch of a unique cultural institution: Woden Valley Youth Choir.
Supported by his pianist wife, Barbara, local teacher, Don Whitbread, visited local schools and churches to gather support for a community choir which would be open to all children who passed a singing audition. The first auditions were held in 1969, and twenty-two children between the ages of 9 and 16 attended the first rehearsal. With Don conducting and Barbara playing the piano, the Woden Valley Youth Choir was born.
More than forty years later, the Choir continues to thrive and to serve the local community. Alpha Gregory, the Artistic Director and conductor of the Performing Choir since 1997, has enlisted a band of excellent musical educators to assist with the training of the singers. Supported by volunteers from the parent body, the choir moves from strength to strength.
During its long history, the Choir has built up an amazing list of achievements. They have appeared before the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, sung for Prime Ministers, performed with the Australian Opera, and at major concerts with international guest artists, recorded five CDs and undertaken six overseas tours. An especially memorable highlight was singing at the ceremony for the conferring of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws on Nelson Mandela in 2000, where Dr Mandela thanked each chorister individually.
At home in Canberra, the Choir is probably best known as a regular contributor to Carols by Candlelight, and in recent times they have sung at the opening ceremony for the Pacific School Games, the closing ceremony for the Special Olympics, for various civic and governmental events and entertained our senior citizens at retirement homes. In 2010 the Choir toured South Korea. Alpha Gregory reported that this was the best tour with which she’s ever been associated.
WVYC choristers are challenged to attain excellence, to experience the beauty found in the choral master works, and to bring joy to audiences. In doing so, the program emphasizes the development of choral and vocal techniques and seeks to develop commitment, poise, love for the art of singing and team spirit.
WVYC has had an extraordinary influence on the lives of countless young people. Choral music is a powerful art form and for over a quarter of a century the children associated with this choir have given many stirring concerts. In return they have developed a lifelong passion for great music. As performers, discerning consumers and supporters of art in the future, they will help mould a society that strongly values its culture. Their commitment to excellence will serve them well in all walks of life.