On Christmas Day 1855, a group of Welsh miners working in Ballarat, Victoria sewed the ancient eisteddfod tradition in Australia by challenging choirs from neighbouring mines to come, join and out-sing them. Thanks to them, the challenge took on and since then choirs have kept the heart of the Australian eisteddfod movement beating through the decades. In 1933, the first City of Sydney Eisteddfod opened with great ceremony at Sydney Town Hall and the festival began with a choir of more than 1,000 schoolchildren lifting their voices in Maurice O’Reilly’s anthem Australia.
Eighty-two years later, the 2015 McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod opened with junior choristers singing their hearts out in the magnificent Concourse Concert Hall, Chatswood. In recent years, choral events have become a major attraction in the Sydney Eisteddfod program. Since 2004, choirs that placed in any general event in the annual choral program have been singing their way to larger rewards as finalists in The John Lamble Foundation Australasian Choral Championships. Nowadays, the younger choristers who place in these championships can look forward to another adventure in song by qualifying for a place in Australian Choral Grand Prix.
The junior choirs that recently opened this year’s festival made a vivid impression in three events. Pymble Ladies College emerged triumphant in the Primary School Choir (Years K–6), Waitara Junior Voices scored top marks in the Primary School Choir (Years 3 & 4) and the cute Reddam House Gumnuts won all hearts, along with first place in the Infant School/Primary Choir (Years K–2). The second and third place-getters from these three events who will be testing their skills even further in The John Lamble Foundation Australasian Choral Champions are the Reddam House Bunyips, Queen Street Singers, PLC Cantabile Choir, Reddam House 5 and 6 Singers and the Barker College Copeland Choir.