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 twenty 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 Senior Music education, Meryl noticed a lack of resource material based on topics for senior music students. Hence, as a co-author with Aleksandar Vujic, she has now released her sixth published textbook for Senior Music students, through Wirripang Publications. Recognition of Meryl’s outstanding work in Music Education has led to her receiving two awards for Excellence in Teaching and the Order of Australia Medal in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

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PIANO ACCOMPANIST, Illawarra Choral Society

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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Heather studied at Sydney Conservatorium where she gained a Bachelor of Music, and also holds the AMusA, and Licentiate and Fellowship of Trinity College London diplomas. She is an experienced recitalist and accompanist, and organist of Scots Kirk Presbyterian Church, Mosman. In October the gave a recital on the 90-year-old organ at St Paul’s Armidale, to mark its restoration.

She is pleased to be working with Illawarra Choral Society in performing Messiah once again, and will also be accompanying it this month with the Hastings Choristers and the Hornsby-Kuringai Ecumenical Choir.

As a member of the state branch committee of the Royal School of Church Music, she helped organise a major church music festival, SydneyinSpires, held last July.

Heather plays piano for the Mirrabooka Singers, who entertain at aged care facilities. As well as a busy private teaching studio, Heather teaches piano at Georges River Grammar School and is an examiner with the Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts. She enjoys choral singing and is an alto with the Mater Chorale, who undertook a UK tour in August.

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Alto soloist

Rebecca Hart is a young French/Australian mezzo-soprano. She is currently a Pacific Opera 2018 Sponsored Young Artist and the Alto Scholar at St Stephen’s Uniting Church. She holds a Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2016).

Roles include Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (Operantics), Ramiro in La Finta Giardiniera (Operantics), Endimione in La Calisto (Sydney Conservatorium Opera Studio), Third Spirit in Die Zauberflöte (Sydney Conservatorium Opera Studio), Apollo in Apollo et Hyacinthus (Flamingo Opera) and Lady Jane in Patience (Gilbert and Sullivan’s Opera Society).

Rebecca has featured in numerous recitals and concerts around NSW. She has performed orchestral works such as Mozart’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bach’s Missa Brevis in A Major and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle.

Rebecca placed first in Lieder (21-25) at the 2018 Sydney Eisteddfod; where she had previously been awarded the Evelyn Hall de Izal Memorial Award for Mezzo-Soprano/Contralto voice in 2016.

In 2017, she started completing her Master of Music (Opera Performance) at the Conservatorium where she received the Dr. Harris Philip Greenberg and Olav Gurney-Jensen Scholarship, and the Patricia Lucas Music Achievement Scholarship.

Rebecca is looking forward to performing the title role of Radamisto (Handel) in early 2019 with the Apollo Opera Collective.

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© Dorothy Ebblewhite July 26 2012