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 Senior Music education, Meryl noticed a lack of Resource material based on topics for senior music students, Hence, as a co-author with Alekzandar Vujic, she released her first published book, Film Music, through Wirripang Publications. Meryl has now released her fifth music textbook for HSC and elective music students.

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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A graduate of Sydney Conservatorium, Heather has given many solo organ recitals and is an experienced accompanist. She is currently the organist of Scots Kirk Presbyterian Church, Mosman, where she is actively trying to encourage younger people to take up the instrument through the Church's scholarship program.

Performances in 2016 included a recital at St Andrew's Cathedral on Maundy Thursday, and Handel's Messiah at Epping Baptist Church on Good Friday. Heather has accompanied the Illawarra Choral Society on several occasions, including in 2007 and 2016 for Dvorak's Stabat Mater.

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. She is also a member of the Sunday Evensong choir of Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney.

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© Dorothy Ebblewhite July 26 2012