2020 ChoralSymposium

Sydney Symposium Choral Foundation & Sydney Eisteddfod


Published: 23/09/2020 2:00pm

Our friends over at the Sydney Symposium Choral Foundation recently set up a Trust Fund to support some of Sydney Eisteddfod’s choral events for the next couple of years. 

We spoke with Dr Ronald Smart PSM, who has been the inspiration and the artistic director behind the foundation since 1992, to learn about his hopes for the future of Sydney Eisteddfod Choral events and more. 

Ronald has been involved with Sydney Eisteddfod for many years now and has been a judge for our choral events numerous times. 

He is a well-known choral conductor and international judge of many choral competitions around the world including the Vienna International Festival which he previously adjudicated every year for 25 years. 

We also briefly spoke to Paul Ward-Harvey who has taken care of the finances, budgeting and planning side of the foundation.  


Can you tell us a little about the history of the Sydney Symposium Choral Foundation? 

The Sydney Symposium Choral Foundation (SSCF) was formed after the highly successful World Symposium on Choral Music was held in Sydney in August 1996. This symposium was the first and still is the only symposium held every three years to have made a profit and is considered still to be one of the best held so far, quite an honour. 

We started with zero dollars and ended with a quarter of a million dollars. 

The main purpose of the foundation was to provide a scholarship to a young choral conductor to study abroad with a well-known international conductor. 

Now, for the past 10 years, we have given $15,000 to the successful applicant of our scholarship.


The SSCF has just set up Trust Fund to financially support some choral events of Sydney Eisteddfod’s, what motivated the SSCF’s decision to do this?  


I’ve been involved with SE for a long time - was on the board for several years and have always been a great supporter, having provided scholarship funds personally for some years in the past. 

We (the SSCF) decided to close the foundation last year because it was becoming too much to manage so in its place, we decided to make two significant donations, one to Sydney Conservatorium of Music which I’d been the head for some years and the other to Sydney Eisteddfod. 

The main reason was to continue to support choral music in Australia by helping and encouraging young choristers to perform and to receive decent rewards for their hard work.  


Since its establishment, the Foundation has dedicated itself to the fostering of choral music in Australia. 

It has funded numerous scholarships to young choral conductors, assisted ANCA, promoted several Eisteddfod events, and supported the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. 

The Eisteddfod caters for, and the Foundation specifically supports, young choirs, choristers and choral conductors.  

Being the “Sydney" Eisteddfod, it retains the Sydney link with the WSCM of 1996. 


You’ve been involved with the Sydney Eisteddfod for many years, in your opinion what aspects of our annual Festival and our work do you enjoy the most? 

I adjudicated for SE for many years and enjoyed this greatly. I also adjudicated the two national competitions that Sydney Eisteddfod held in the past and have always enjoyed attending concerts at their invitation.  

I am a music educator at heart, I like to see young talent grow and be nurtured year to year. 

I have always supported the Eisteddfod and will continue while I can and hope to see the standard improve even more so than it already stands currently in years to come. 


 What are your hopes for the future of Sydney Eisteddfod’s Choral events? 


We hope that the significant growth of community involvement in choral music in Sydney and regional areas will continue to flourish, for many years to come.


The trust fund setup will provide additional funding for the remainder of the choral sections, particularly the younger choral sections which I feel will be very important for them. 

I would love to see SE attract more of a national audience in years to come as opposed to mainly Sydney entrants. This has already been increasing over the years which is great to hear.


Despite all the hardships that 2020 has brought to Sydney Eisteddfod and the performing arts community, we are so glad to have launched Crowd Favourite Performances weeks ago, an international online competition that has received entries not only from across the nation but worldwide too. 

We hope to continue attract performers state-wide and beyond when our Festival returns in 2021 and beyond. 

Keep an eye on our Crowd Favourite Performances page below so you can VOTE for your favourite performance from Thursday 1 October!


Photo in header: L to R - Paul Ward-Harvey, Piroozi Desai-Keane OAM, Ronald Smart PSM.