Last week, Sydney Eisteddfod announced the Winners of the John Lamble Foundation Australasian Championship for Youth Choirs (19/u) & Open Primary Choir, FRENSHAM MADRIGALS!
We caught up with Michael Spencer, Choirmaster and Head of Music at Frensham to hear more about the choirs experience submitting an online entry this year. Michael also discusses the future aspirations he has for the school choir.
The Frensham Madrigals took out the Sydney Eisteddfod Youth & Open Primary Choral Championship! How did the choir feel when they found out they’d taken out the winning title?
Absolutely elated. Competing in the Sydney Eisteddfod is a rite of passage for the Madrigals each year and the last time Frensham won the Championship was in 2012.
You chose two contrasting songs to perform this year, the prayerful ‘'Tulit Ergo' and the energetic 'Since You've Been Gone'. What was the reason behind choosing these two pieces?
"Our choice of repertoire reflects the role of choirs at Frensham. We prepare 6 anthems for our School Services over the year and Tulit Ergo was one of the anthems from Term 1.
"It was written by myself as the conductor in 2020, as a response to the Climate Crisis. It refers to bushfires and fish-kills as well as the passage in Genesis where God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Frensham girls, as a school, love full-throated singing and the Aretha Franklin was just for fun!"
[Watch a short clip of the Frensham Madrigals First-place performance in the 2021 Youth Choral Championship!
This year, the Choral Championships took place online due to the lockdown. How did you find this experience?
It was a great experience to be able to send in performance videos given the circumstances of the pandemic, though of course we did miss the buzz of live performance, and success. Even though all the girls were in lockdown when we won, we did have a nice celebration over Zoom together."
Over the past year and a half, what has it been like for the Frensham Madrigals, practising and performing in a COVID-19 world?
"We actually ran Zoom ‘rehearsals’ in 2020 which was really challenging.
"Required a LOT of goodwill from the choristers. Since lockdown this year, we have actually stopped doing even that. So, it is concerning - the potential for loss of skills and choral culture that is passed down each year from the seniors to the newer choristers."
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of the Frensham Madrigals and future choral ensemble groups at Frensham school?
"Is it naive to think that we will pick right up from where we left off? The music department at Frensham has maintained the school’s passionate commitment to singing over the last 20 years.
"Singing in choirs and as an entire school is an integral part of daily life at Frensham. Two or three years of COVID is not going to change that."
Our most sincere congratulations once again to Frensham School for taking out the Youth Choral Championship! We are hanging on for restrictions to ease for our choirs eventually so that choral groups can get back to doing what they do best - practising and performing together in unison!
Choral performances have always been such a staple in the musical calendar, for performing arts lovers across the globe, and we are glad that even in these times we have still been able to celebrate their outstanding talent.