Sydney Vocal Project

Sydney Vocal Project on stage in the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinkiPoP Media

An interview with Jim Catt from Sydney Vocal Project


Sydney Vocal Project had graced the Sydney Eisteddfod stage most notably in the past three years. In 2014, they established a reputation for being a dedicated choir, placing Second in the Sacred/ Gospel Choir (Any Age) and Community Choir (Any Age) events and earning Third Place in the Choir (Any Age) event. This led to the group competing as a Finalist in The 2014 John Lamble Foundation Australasian Open Choral Championship. The following year, saw them continue to entertain the crowds, winning the Choir (Any Age) event and once again go on to be a Finalist in The 2015 John Lamble Foundation Australasian Open Choral Championship. 

This year Sydney Vocal Project has gone from strength to strength, taking out Second place in the Choir (Any Age) event and Third in The 2016 John Lamble Foundation Australasian Open Choral Championship, ultimately leading to them being selected as a Finalist in the Australian Choral Grand Prix. Conducter of Sydney Vocal Project Jim Catt recently shared with Sydney Eisteddfod how he became involved in his first choir and his top tips for anyone thinking of joining one. 

Describe choral singing in five words

Expressive, Engaging, Community, Teamwork and Synergistic

Tell us how you became involved in your first choir

It was through my Dad, he was a singer in the local Church choir in country UK and I auditioned to join when I was about 8 years old.

Why do you love being a conductor?

I love assisting singers in their journey of self improvement and reaching their true potential.

What has been a highlight of performing with Sydney Vocal Project.

Honestly, reaching this years Australian Choral Grand Prix Final! Recognition is the most important aspect of public choral performing for me now, getting to the finals is a huge step for us and recognition that we have arrived in the local Choral scene.

Do you have any funny stories/memories to share about your time as a member of Sydney Vocal Project

Last year we did our first flash mob at a Sydney wedding in the beautiful botanical gardens. The Groom knew but the Bride had no idea. We were dressed as guests and just started singing when the Bride appeared!

Do you have any tips for somebody thinking of joining a choir?

Spend time finding a choir that matches your skills and commitment level. Matching these closely will ensure a long and 'satiating' musical journey.

What are you most looking forward to with Sydney Vocal Project as 2016 draws to a close?

Every year we present the songs we have learned each season (2016) to our family and friends in an intimate performance setting.

What is Sydney Vocal Project hoping to achieve next as an ensemble?

We have had a successful building phase this year and next year brings an opportunity to record our second album. 

What is the best piece of performance advice you have ever heard?

Do the plan, live the lyric and love the choralography!

What styles of music do you like singing with Sydney Vocal Project most?

Songs that engage the singer and excite the audience, usually through juxtaposition, these have more recently been in the popular music genre and primarily A cappella. 

What do you believe the future holds for choral singing in Australia?

It's hard to know nationally, however there are certainly pockets of high quality vocal groups all around Australia and organisations like ANCA, Vocal Australia, Sweet Adelines and Barbershop Harmony Australia are providing National singing events held every year, giving a National platform for vocal groups/choirs to improve and learn. It is essential singing groups are given platforms to perform and learn, these groups are leading the way Nationally. 

What life skills would you say you have learnt through being apart of a choir?

Certainly too many to mention, but here are a few - Persistence, self belief, honesty, the importance of community, patience, how to lead and motivate groups, creating a common goal and understanding there are a many and varied ways to achieve this.