The Australian Rugby Choir. is a men's choir which aims to promote singing in the community through performances at rugby matches and other community and charitable events. The choir is a non-profit organisation, with its members sharing the love of both rugby and singing.
The objectives of the choir are expressed at greater length in our Plan:
- to establish, maintain and support a choir of male voices
- to encourage and promote in the community an appreciation of choral music and male voice singing through regular public performances
- to train and educate members in the art of choral music and singing and to develop in them an appreciation of love of music
- to contribute to and support worthwhile community and charitable organisations
- to foster through public performances support for an appreciation of the code of rugby union football in the ACT and Region.
The choir is a non-profit organisation which was incorporated in 1996 and registered as 'The Australian Rugby Choir Inc.' under the ACT Associations Incorporation Act. Like other incorporated associations we have elected office holders and committee members who manage the choir's affairs.
The Committee appoints a Musical Director who leads the choir in rehearsals and performances, as well as a Principal Accompanist. The Choir currently has around 40 active members and new members are always welcome.
The elected President is Scott Sneddon, the Vice-President is Garry Chinn, the Secretary is Phil Aungles, and the Treasurer is Albert Orszaczky.
Rehearsals for the Choir are currently held each Thursday evening from 7.30pm to 9.20pm in the main hall of the Baptist Church in Groom Street, Hughes. Rehearsals provide an opportunity after a warm-up for enjoyable singing in four-part harmony, polishing up songs in the repertoire and learning new songs. Members also use rehearsals as a social occasion to catch up with old and new friends.
The choir sings a wide variety of songs including Welsh hymns, opera, rugby songs, Christmas carols, and popular, comedy and novelty songs. Our recent and current repertoire is in the current song book. Choir Members are encouraged to suggest new items for the repertoire.
The choir's first performance was at the Brumbies' inaugural Super Rugby game at Canberra Stadium in March 1996. From then until
COVID-19 changed things in 2020, the choir performed at every Brumbies home game and a number of away games. The choir also performed at Wallabies matches in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, and at the Brumbies' game against the British Lions in 2013.
A regular commitment of the choir was singing at the Australian War Memorial, again until COVID-19 changed things in 2020. The choir has not yet been invited back to sing at memorial ceremonies.
The choir is a member of the Male Choirs Association of Australia (MCAA) and has performed at MCAA combined concerts from the one in Canberra's Llewellyn Hall in 2008 onwards – in the Sydney Town Hall in 2010, in Melbourne's Dallas Brooks Hall in 2012, with our own choir as organisers at Canberra's AIS arena in 2014, in the WIN arena in Wollongong in 2017 and, after delays caused by COVID‑19 restrictions, in the Sydney Town Hall in 2022. Another MCAA concert is being planned for Adelaide in 2024.
Large contingents of the choir have travelled overseas to perform in concert –
· with the celebrated Welsh operatic bass-baritone Bryn Terfel at New York's Carnegie Hall in 2008,
· in a combined Oceania/World Choir in London as a precursor to the 2012 Olympic Games, and
· in the International Male Choral Festival in Cornwall in May 2019.
Most of the choir's public performances each year are in Canberra, for charity fund‑raising events, weddings, funerals, conventions and nursing homes. Sometimes the choir travels over the border: in recent years we have performed in the NSW regional centres of Goulburn, Orange, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Boorowa, Parkes, Moruya, Batemans Bay and Young, and in the last few years several times in each of Bungendore and Queanbeyan.
Since 2005 until COVID-19 struck in 2020, the choir held an annual concert for its supporters, with a separate concert for residents of local retirement villages. Patronage of these concerts has been considerable. In 2018 the annual concert was held in the Q Theatre in Queanbeyan, and in 2019 in the Canberra Southern Cross Club. COVID-19 restrictions ruled out holding such a concert in 2020 or 2021, but in November 2022 we were back with a concert in The B Theatre in Queanbeyan.
Each year, normally at the choir's annual dinner in early December, the Patron's Award is presented to someone in recognition of "outstanding service to the choir". There are no restrictions on eligibility for this award.
The choir's foundation Patron, David Lewis OAM, inaugurated an annual Patron's Award in 2005 and donated a silver tray as a perpetual trophy. The choir's current Patron is Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Ian McLean AM, CSC, who was formerly the Director of Army Music, and prior to that Musical Director of the Royal Military College Band, Duntroon. Ian is also a well-known identity in Canberra music circles.
Each year the committee appoints a Returning Officer from ARC ranks to conduct the selection. All members are asked to nominate the person they believe to be most eligible for the award. The awardee is the person receiving the most nominations, or in the event of a tie the award for that year is shared. The name of the winner is engraved on the perpetual trophy.
Previous Awardees: 2005 Alastair Crombie, 2006 Mick Rice, 2007 Andrea Clifford, 2008 Frank Bergersen, 2009 Neil Fleming, 2010 Geoff Ford, 2011 Rick Dresser, 2012 Peter Cole, 2013 Stephen Wedd, 2014 Karen Da Silva, 2015 Eddy Stevens, 2016 Russell Grainger, 2017 Keith Jones and Albert Orszaczky, 2018 Colin Keith, 2019 Frank Bergersen, and after a COVID-related break, 2022 Paul Green.
Here are links to –
our early history, www.rugbychoir.org.au/get/files/5278.docx
a list of our performances, www.rugbychoir.org.au/get/files/5277.docx
a list of our musical directors, principal accompanists and presidents, www.rugbychoir.org.au/get/files/5279.docx