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Choral Festival aimed at senior singers


Brigid Veale
12 May 2010
Older Australians who can read music and sing in tune are being invited to take part in the third biennial Australian Seniors' Choral Festival in Coffs Harbour from July 12 to 17.

Hosted by Southern Cross University and the University of New England (UNE), the festival is open to anyone aged 55 years or over who can read music and sing in tune.

UNE's Dr Terrence Hays, the artistic director of the festival, said it was a wonderful opportunity for older Australians to be actively involved in music making at a high level.

"Music is not only about emotions and life experience," Dr Hays said. "It is about connection with others, personal identity, and sharing the joys of life."

The festival, to be held at Southern Cross University's Coffs Harbour campus, will include a varied repertoire ranging from classic anthems to chorus excerpts and dynamic spirituals.

"You don't necessarily need to be a singer," Dr Hays said. "People with an instrumental background are also encouraged to participate."

Christopher Allan, senior lecturer in voice at the University of Newcastle, will be the resident conductor for the 2010 festival. He is well known as a conductor and singer with many choral groups including the Sydney Philharmonia Choir, The Song Company, and Cantillation. The festival's patron is the internationally renowned Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe, and Kawai Pianos Australia is a major sponsor.

Music workshops throughout the first five days of the festival will be followed, on Saturday 17 July, by a final rehearsal and then a free public concert.

Professor Colleen Cartwright, director of Southern Cross University's Aged Services Learning and Research Centre, said she was delighted to be supporting such a wonderful event.

"There is good evidence that singing in a choir such as this not only improves the physical health of older people because of the breath and posture techniques required but the social interaction also has positive psychological benefits," Professor Cartwright said.

"In addition, the festival will provide an opportunity to showcase to seniors from across Australia what a wonderful place Coffs Harbour is, as a holiday or retirement location."

Photo: Dr Terrence Hays, the artistic director of the Australian Seniors' Choral Festival.