About Our Choirs

Woden Valley Youth Choir delivers a range of choir opportunities to keep children singing from primary school through to adulthood. 

Our choirs are structured to support choristers as they grow, advance and change, with the development of extension programs and support for changing voices.  Our choirs are wonderfully supported by a team of dedicated music staff, under the artistic direction of Olivia Swift. 

Rehearsals for all choirs are held on Tuesday evenings during ACT Government school terms at Charles Weston Primary School, 80 Woodberry Avenue, Coombs in Building 6 (entrance adjacent to bus stop).   

Please follow our Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up-to-date with current activities, performances and upcoming auditions.  To register your interest in the choir, please contact WVYC on info.wvyc@gmail.com or use the “Contact us” page on this site. All potential choristers are invited to come along for a free trial session before committing. 

Woden Valley Youth Choir is a not-for-profit organisation.  We also offer bursaries and payment plans for those who are experiencing financial hardship.  WYVC has a long history in Canberra, and in 2019 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary.  

​We look forward to you choosing WVYC as a challenging and rewarding next step in your singing journey. 

Nova Voices - Ages 8 to 10

Tuesdays

4:30pm - 5:30pm

Nova Voices are our youngest choristers. As young musicians, they are at the start of their journey in the world of music.  Nova means new, and in astronomy it describes a new star, a new point of light in the night sky for the world to enjoy.  

  • Term Fees = $170 per term, plus $50 joining fee (once off)

  • Uniform/Music Deposit = $50 (once off, refundable upon departure from the choir and return of music and uniform)

  • Term fees due week two of each term

Borealis Voices - Ages 10 to 13

Tuesdays

4:30pm - 5:50pm

WVYC continues to nurture our young choristers as they grow and develop as musicians.

Borealis means the north, and is used to describe the natural light phenomenon Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

  • Term Fees = $180 per term, plus $50 joining fee (once off)

  • Uniform/Music Deposit = $50 (once off, refundable upon departure from the choir and return of music and uniform)

  • Term fees due week two of each term

Aurora Vocal Ensemble

Tuesdays 

6:00pm - 6:30pm

Our selective enrichment program for 10 to 12 year olds extends the musicianship of our choristers identified from Borealis Voices as needing challenge and extension.  Aurora means dawn and describes a natural electrical phenomenon displaying colourful lights in the night sky, awe-inspiring for those fortunate enough to see them.

  • Term Fees = $50 per term

  • Term fees due week two of each term

Australis Voices - Ages 11 to 25

Tuesdays

6:00pm - 8:00pm

Australis Voices are our oldest choristers, who we help mature, not just as musicians, but as people.  Australis means the south, and is used to describe the natural light phenomenon Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights.

  • Term Fees = $230 per term, plus $50 joining fee (once off)

  • Uniform/Music Deposit = $150 (once off, refundable upon departure from the choir and return of music and uniform

  • Term fees due week two of each term

Spectra Vocal Ensemble

Tuesdays:

8pm to 8:30pm

Ages 12 to 25 — our boutique enrichment program extends the musicianship of choristers from Australis Voices and Centauri Voices identified as having exceptional talent and potential.  Spectra describes a band of colours, as seen in a rainbow produced by the components of light. Like the many voices of this group, greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Term Fees = $50 per term

  • Term fees due week two of each term

Centauri Voices

Tuesdays 

6:30pm - 8:00pm

Our choir for young men with transitioning voices. In this choir, we support and nurture young men on their musical journey as their voices change.  Centauri refers to Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own and is one of the brightest lights in the night sky.

  • Term Fees = $190 per term, plus a once off joining fee of $50 

  • Uniform/Music Deposit = $50 (once off, refundable upon departure from the choir and return of music and uniform)

  • Term fees due week two of each term

 

WVYC Music Team

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OLIVIA SWIFT

Artistic Director/Conductor

Olivia is a composer and choral conductor.  A graduate of the ANU School of Music, her focus is on classical composition, but she has also studied film scoring and jazz.  During high school, Olivia sang with Gondwana Voices and Sydney Children’s Choir and in 2008, her twelve-tone piece for wind quintet was nominated for Encore.  Olivia has worked with well-known Australian composers such as Paul Stanhope and Christopher Gordon at Gondwana Composers School several times.  As well as working on an opera that features a vocal ensemble providing the accompaniment, Olivia is currently the musical director of Kompactus Youth Choir and conducts a number of community choirs.

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JADE McFAUL

Conductor

Jade completed a degree in Classical Voice  at ANU in 2018.   She received the 2014 Christel Larko Music Scholarship and performed onstage as a soloist and chorus member in the School of Music’s production of L’Orfeo.  She has been a chorister with Gondwana National Choirs since 2011 and is regularly involved in local choirs.  Jade teaches music at CGGS.

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ROSE HOLCOMBE

Accompanist

Rose Holcombe is a Canberra based piano teacher, accompanist and performer.  In 2002 she completed a Bachelor of Music and a Graduate Diploma in Piano Performance at the Canberra School of Music.  Since then she has taught piano from her own studio and at various primary schools (currently Yarralumla Primary and Canberra Christian School).  She thoroughly enjoys accompanying  choirs and playing for instrumentalists and singers in recitals (including Wesley concerts and the Canberra International Chamber Festival with soprano Louise Page).  She regularly works at Marist and Orana, accompanying tertiary music exams, accompanying students in concerts and playing for musicals.

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SALLY McRAE

Accompanist

Sally believes in WVYC’s wonderful contribution to the musical development of young Canberrans. Sally McRae obtained a Bachelor of Music (Hons) from the Tasmanian Conservatorium in 1998.  She spent the next 8 years working as a repetiteur, piano teacher, choral conductor and musical director in the Canberra music scene.  In 2008, Sally qualified as a Registered Midwife, but continues to work with the Woden Valley Youth Choir as a pianist and occasional conductor because of her belief in its wonderful contribution to the musical development of young Canberrans.

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LUCUS ALLERTON

Conductor Centauri Voices

Lucus Allerton graduated from the ANU School of Music with Honours in Piano in mid-2013. He is yet to regret that, which makes him happy.  At the piano, Lucus enjoys ensemble and piano accompaniment work most of all, in 2012 winning the overall Margaret Smiles Accompaniment Prize (and in 2010 winning the prize for Best Vocal Accompanist), and reaching the finals of the Sydney Eisteddfod’s 2013 Victoria Jennifer Warren Piano Accompaniment Award.

Lucus has very much enjoyed a number of musical partnerships and ensemble memberships, both during and after his time at the School of Music, and cherishes the friendships that have arisen from these experiences. 

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MARK JOHNSON

Accompanist

Mark Johnson is a pianist and teacher based in Canberra.   He studied musicology, piano and fortepiano at the ANU School of Music before lecturing there in music history and theory, as well as teaching privately.  As an accompanist, Mark has worked with a wide range of musicians of all ages from beginning students to seasoned professionals in a variety of settings including public concerts, exams, theatre productions, radio broadcasts and the National Eisteddfod.

 

WVYC: 50 Years of Song

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, former teacher and choirmaster, 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.

 

From the very start WVYC was something special and word soon got around.  The choir continued to grow as did its reputation around the country.   Supported by volunteers from the parent body, the choir moved from strength to strength, growing to 70 members and a long wait-list, leading the choir to record numerous albums and international tours.  In 1997, Don retired from conducting the choir, handing the baton to music educator, Alpha Gregory.  Under Alpha’s leadership, the choir enlisted a band of excellent musical educators to assist with the training of the singers.

After 20 years, and hundreds of performances, it was Alpha’s turn to retire and, in 2017, musician and educator Kimberley Steele became Artistic Director – just the third person to take on the role in the choir’s nearly 50 year history.  Kimberley brought a different approach to music education, heavily influenced by the Kodály Method.  Kodály is an approach to music education developed in Hungary during the mid-twentieth century by Zoltán Kodály.  In 2018 Olivia Swift joined the choir as Artistic Director.  A graduate of the ANU School of Music, Olivia is a passionate and experienced chorister herself  and also a composer – mainly of choral music.

During its long history, WVYC 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 numerous CDs and undertaken seven overseas tours including to South Korea in 2010.  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 the organiser and choral contributor to Canberra’s official Carols by Candlelight.

Some notable performances include:

  • 1981 tour to West Coast USA and Canada

  • at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Australia, to sing to visiting Heads of Government at international conferences in 1981 and 1983

  • 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Queensland – performing for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at a Gala Concert

  • as invited guest artists at Government House, Canberra, the residence of the Governor-General of Australia

  • 1985 tour to Japan

  • at the opening ceremony of the World Cup Athletics meet in 1985

  • a world-wide telecast which launched Australia’s Bicentennial year in 1988

  • 12 choir members were in the Choir which sang at the official opening of Australian Parliament House, 1988

  • at Australia’s official flag-raising ceremony at Expo 88 in Brisbane

  • 1990 tour to New Zealand

  • performance for the royals again, in Canberra in 1992

  • 1992 tour to UK and Europe

  • 1996 tour to United States

  • at the prestigious International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference

  • at the ceremony for the conferring of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws on Nelson Mandela in 2000

  • 2005 tour to USA

  • at the opening of the Australian of the Year Walk in 2006

  • the opening of the Pacific School Games in 2008

  • as guest artists at the Male Choir Association of Australia 2008 Festival

  • at the Prime Minister’s apology to Forgotten Australians and Child Migrants in 2009

  • 2010 tour to South Korea

  • singing with symphony orchestras, and at major concerts with international guest artists including with Opera Australia’s The Marriage of Figaro in 2016.

  • singing the Australian National Anthem in local Aboriginal Ngunnawal language (from memory) at the Canberra Business Chamber Gala in 2017.

  • 2018 singing for the Prime Minister and Governor General at the 50th Anniversary of the University of NSW, Canberra.

 

WVYC has had an extraordinary influence on the lives of countless young people. Choral music is a powerful art form and for nearly half a century the children associated with WVYC 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.

© 2020 Woden Valley Youth Choir

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