About Us

WHO WE ARE

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir is a non-auditioned choir which welcomes members regardless of their sexual identity or musical experience. The choir is open to all – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersex, queer and our straight friends and families. What unites us is a love of singing together and striving for performance excellence. A powerful symbol of diversity, inclusion and harmony, the choir has maintained a vital and visible presence in the history of Sydney’s LGBTQI community.

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir has provided the soundtrack to countless community events and celebrations over the years, and has regularly represented Sydney on the national and international stage. Our repertoire is equally diverse, ranging from classical to pop, and from music theatre to contemporary Australian compositions. With around 80 active singing members at any time, the choir rehearses together most Thursday nights. We usually present two major concerts each year, as well as performances at a wide range of community events, interstate and international festivals, collaborations with other artists, recordings and fun social events.

HISTORY

and toured Europe, New Zealand and North America. The choir’s music director is Dr Sarah Penicka-Smith. Former music directors include Stephen Schafer and Jonathon Welch AM. Its 2009 production of Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen was the first opera in the world to be staged by a queer choir.


In 2011, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala concert at Sydney Town Hall. Also that year it performed the world premiere of a major new choral work Dreams & Visions, commissioned from Sydney composer John Peterson, now available as a CD and on iTunes. In 2012 the choir performed at the Festival of Voices in Hobart and Canberra’s Llewellyn Hall, and launched outpostchoir.com, the world’s first virtual queer choir project.

In 2014, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir toured Northern Europe, visiting Finland and Estonia where the choir sang with local gay, lesbian and ally choirs. The tour culminated with participation in the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia, where members celebrated music in a country where being gay is still difficult in daily life, and protections are limited. Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir was thrilled to have made an impact on those we joined in song throughout the tour, and for the barriers we helped to break down through song.

DR SARAH PENICKA-SMITH, MUSIC DIRECTOR

Dr Sarah Penicka-Smith is an experienced conductor and vocal coach. She has been Music Director of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir since 2005, and Director of Music at St Andrew’s College since 2011. In 2013 she also takes up the position of Principal Conductor with the Macquarie University Singers. Sarah was Assistant Chorusmaster with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs from 2008-2009, and from 2010–2012, Choir Master with the Willoughby Symphony Choir and guest conductor for Willoughby Symphony Orchestra.

In 2010 Sarah directed the 61st Intervarsity Choral Festival in Canberra and also started working with chamber opera company Opera Prometheus. Her opera credits include Purcell’s The Fairy Queen,

Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, with Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir (the first opera ever staged by a queer choir), and Campra’s Tancrede and the premiere of Cummins’ Anacreontea with Opera Prometheus. Sarah has been part of the Symphony Australia Conductor Development Program since 2012. In addition to her musical credits, Sarah holds a PhD from the University of Sydney.

THE HONORABLE MICHAEL AC CMG, PATRON

When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge. In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby served on three university governing bodies being elected Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney (1984-93). He also served on many national and international bodies. Amongst the latter have been service as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-92); President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-8); as UN Special Representative Human Rights in

Cambodia (1993-6); a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007-) and a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights (2004-). In 2010, he was awarded the Gruber Justice Prize. He is also presently a member of the Eminent Persons Group which is investigating the future of the Commonwealth of Nations; and has been appointed to the UNDP Global Commission of HIV and the Law. In 2010, he was appointed to the Arbitration Panel of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (World Bank).

EDDIE AYRES, PATRON

Eddie is a musician, music teacher, and radio presenter. He is notable for his work on the Australian ABC Classic FM radio station, as well as for her numerous charitable efforts. Eddie grew up in Shrewsbury, England. He graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and made further studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and at the Royal Academy in London. He was a professional viola player for twelve years,

including eight years performing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2001 he presented the classical music breakfast show on the RTHK station in Hong Kong, and presented the breakfast program on the ABC Classic FM radio station from February 2008 to September 2014. He moved from Hong Kong to Australia in February 2003, and now lives in Brisbane. In 2010, He adopted Australian Citizenship.

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Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir held its first ever performance in 1991, following a letter published in the Sydney Star Observer in November 1990 which called for community interest in forming a choir. Since then the choir has performed Carl Vine’s Mythologia with Sydney Dance Company at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, hosted the first Australasian Gay and Lesbian Choral Festival, performed at the Sydney Gay Games Choral Festival,

EVENTS

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What’s Coming Up

THUR

9

Rehearsal

New Time: 6:30pm

New Place: Ascham

Mar

Rossini Stabat Mater

8pm

Sydney Opera House

May

SUN

7

Rossini Stabat Mater

2pm

Sydny Opera House

Rehearsal_201703014.html

THUR

16

Rehearsal

New Time: 6:30pm

New Place: Ascham

Rehearsal_201703014.html

Looking Ahead

More coming up in April to May

THUR

23

Rehearsal

New Time: 6:30pm

New Place: Ascham

Rehearsal_201703014.html

THUR

30

Rehearsal

New Time: 6:30pm

New Place: Ascham

Rehearsal_201703014.html

SUN

19

Weekend rehearsal in

Glebe Town Hall

SAT

6

https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/classical-music/2017/SPCRossiniStabatMater.html
https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/classical-music/2017/SPCRossiniStabatMater.html