FAURE'S REQUIEM and other choral works


MUSICAL DIRECTOR, Illawarra Choral Society

Meryl is a professional music educator, conductor of choirs and orchestras and music examiner. She has a BMus BEd from UNSW, and AMusA and ATCL in both singing and piano. Just to keep her out of mischief, Meryl also holds Certificate III in Media and Live Entertainment and Cert IV in Training and Assessment.

Meryl has been associated with the Illawarra Choral Society since she was a toddler listening to her dad, Roy Jackson, perform. She was a member of the society under the baton of Harold Brissenden, leaving only when further studies and travel in Europe beckoned. These studies included orchestral and choral conducting training at Holy Names College in Oakland CA and intensive choral conducting at the Ferenc Lizst Academy in Budapest.

Meryl has been Musical Director of the Illawarra Choral Society since 2008, conducting eighteen concerts ranging from Bach to Bernstein and beyond. She strongly believes in providing opportunities for developing musicians to perform with the Choral Society. Young instrumentalists are invited to join professional orchestral players for great choral works. Opportunities are also provided for young singers from primary and secondary schools to take part in suitable works or to perform as a group. Voice students in the final year of advanced opera courses at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music – and prize-winners in national operatic awards – are also given opportunities to sing with a large, established choir and to enlarge their repertoire.

From her many years in musical education, Meryl noticed a lack of resource material for HSC Music students and staff. Hence, in her 'retirement' years, she is dedicated to writing and then publishing a series of booklets on various topics. Her first book, Film Music, contains Meryl’s detailed analysis of differing film themes that can be used by students studying Music 1 and Music 2 for their Preliminary and HSC courses.

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Guest artist - Organist

A graduate of Sydney Conservatorium, Heather has been organist and director of music at Scots Kirk Presbyterian in Mosman for the past eleven years. She is also pianist with the Mirrabooka Singers, who give concerts in retirement villages and nursing homes.

In recent months she has performed with members of the Australian Brass Collective, and given solo recitals at St Andrew’s Cathedral and St Stephen’s, Macquarie St. During Easter she played for Handel’s Messiah with the Phoenix Choir of the Blue Mountains, and a combined churches choir at Epping. Last May Heather accompanied the Illawarra Choral Society in Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, and is thrilled to be working with them again.

In addition to a private teaching studio in Sydney’s Hills district, Heather teaches piano at Georges River Grammar School and is an examiner with the Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts. Until recently she was a chorister with the Sunday Evensong choir at Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney, who performed Bach’s Mass in B minor in April.

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BRENDA THOMSON AMusA, LMusA, TC, MMTA, Piano Accompanist

Brenda gained her AMusA at the age of sixteen and was well-known as a classical pianist. She remembers with particular delight playing in concertos written for three or four harpsichords or pianos. For thirteen years she and Eric Bryce directed David Jones’ Christmas choir, arranging carols to suit them.

Brenda returned to Wollongong Conservatorium at the age of 35 and gained her LMusA. She recalls fitting in frantic practice sessions while her daughter was at pre-school – the alternative being the three-year-old’s floor-thumping accompaniment under the grand piano.

Pushed by Jim Powell to take the music teachers’ course, Brenda soon became hooked on teaching and has remained so, always having a busy studio at home and for many years holding concurrent teaching positions at the Conservatorium and the Illawarra Grammar School. During her studies, analysing the works of JS Bach aroused her interest in his influence on jazz. She believes her students’ minds should be opened to more than one kind of music, and always includes jazz in their education.

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Guest artist - Soprano soloist

Kate Wilmot grew up and studied music in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Kate was a principal artist for London's Spier Arts Trust and Broom Hill Opera in their Festival collaboration in Cape Town (2001) and was also a principal artist with Roodeport Promusica Opera in Johannesburg. She has been a soloist with a number of South African orchestras and choirs, premiering and recording new works for soprano, choir and orchestra. One of these works, Gloria for Soprano, Choir and Orchestra (2008), was written for her.

Since relocating to Australia in 2009, Kate has performed numerous concerts for organisations including The Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation, Artsong NSW, Arts Bundanoon, The Southern Highlands Opera Appreciation Group, Classical Concert Series in Austinmer, and Church on the Mall concert series in Wollongong. She was soprano soloist in Mozart’s Requiem (2012) and Vivaldi’s Gloria (2013) for the Illawarra Choral Society. In 2014 she was a member of a small ensemble in Puccini’s La Bohème, produced by Opera New England, Armidale.

Kate was a semi-finalist in the Unisa First Southern African Singing compet-ition (2005), a finalist in the Unisa Overseas Bursary Competition (2006 and 2007), winner of the Doris Smith trophy for English Art song (2010), the Mary Jane Corderoy Encouragement Award for Lieder (2014) and regional winner in the Opera section of the Wollongong Eisteddfod (2014). She has also been a participant in the Mietta Art Song Competition master classes (2014).

In Rockdale Opera’s 2016 productions Kate played the roles of Juno in Orpheus in the Underworld and Ludmila in The Bartered Bride. In April this year she was a soloist for their Gala Opera Concert which featured Opera Australia’s Emma Matthews and José Carbo as Guest Artists along with the Rockdale Opera Company ensemble. Future engagements include the role of Fiametta in Rockdale Opera’s midyear 2017 production of The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan.

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Guest artist - Baritone soloist

Born in Port Macquarie and now residing in Sydney, Joshua holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Newcastle, majoring in voice.

He has performed with Co-Opera (Adelaide), Sydney Independent Opera, Pacific Opera, Newcastle Festival Opera, Opera Hunter, and Cantillation.

He has performed the roles of Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte in Adelaide and Melbourne (Co-Opera), Papageno in The Magic Flute (Bare Bones Opera, Sydney) and Schaunard in La Bohème for Opera Projects. Joshua also played Masetto in Don Giovanni (Sydney Independent Opera) and Giuseppe in The Gondoliers (Newcastle Festival Opera). His other principal roles include Escamillo in Carmen, Sprecher in The Magic Flute and Readymoney Matt in The Threepenny Opera.

Joshua also attended the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School on scholarship in 2016, performing the roles of Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Eurydice, Jupiter in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld and Dr Cajus in Nicolai's Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor. He was also a Young Artist with Pacific Opera based in Sydney.

Joshua has also excelled in competitions and was delighted to be named as a finalist in the German-Australian Opera Grant Wiesbaden (Encouragement Grant), and was also a finalist in the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Awards.

Recent performance highlights include the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation Rossini Gala, Music at Manly's Concert Season, and An Evening of Gilbert and Sullivan with Stuart Maunder and the Opera and Arts Support Group.

He has performed as baritone soloist in many concerts, including Messiah for the National Trust in Sydney and Mozart's Requiem K.626 with the Newcastle University Choir. Last year he also sang Handel's Messiah at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, and Mozart's Vesperae solennes de confessore with The Hastings Choristers.

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