NECOM Choral Conductor Mentoring Program

This year, the NECOM Choral Conductor Mentoring Program has taken on a new and exciting dimension thanks to the warm support of the Armidale Choral Society. Initiated by Phil Oxley and Leanne Roobol, our choral conducting students Sophia Mackson, Erin Page, and Isabelle Perrottet, now have the opportunity to develop their skills in rehearsals and public concerts with the ACS.

As part of the NECOM Mentoring Program, each student receives weekly one-to-one lessons with Phil Oxley, to focus on conducting technique and interpretative issues. They also conduct the New England Singers Chamber Choir in weekly rehearsals, to put technique into practice, and learn how to plan and lead a rehearsal.

Earlier this term, each student also conducted the New England Singers Chamber Choir as part of a concert with the Armidale Choral Society. The Chamber Choir responded sensitively to each conductor’s style, bringing out the sustained lyricism of Eric Whitacre’s The Seal Lullaby (Sophia Mackson), the rhythmic vitality of a jazz arrangement of Bart Howard’s Fly Me to the Moon (Erin Page), and lilting tenderness in Love Me Sweet by Carl Vine (Isabelle Perrottet).

The Chamber Choir also sang with the ACS in the rest of the concert. This gave our young conductors the chance to observe experienced choral conductor Leanne Roobol rehearse and lead a concert of modern choral works that included Ēriks Ešenvalds’ Only in Sleep, and The Ground by Ola Gjeilo.

The collaboration was deemed such a success our students have been invited back, this time to conduct the Armidale Choral Society for one piece each at the ASC’s next concert in August. The experience of conducting a large community choir of adults is very different from conducting their peers in the Chamber Choir, and this is a valuable opportunity for our students to extend their skills.

Songs of Triumph and Inspiration will be held at the Uniting Church on Sunday 11 August, 3pm. The program features a variety of anthems, ranging from the opening movement of Vivaldi’s Gloria, to operatic choruses, and a selection of Welsh songs popular at football games!

Another highlight for this term was a day of conducting masterclasses with the renowned choral conductor Carl Crossin from Elder Conservatorium (Adelaide). Each of our three conducting students received an individual, 30-minute lesson with Carl Crossin, followed by a conducting workshop with the Chamber Choir, with Carl Crossin providing guidance and feedback. The students were also welcome to participate in a second workshop with Carl Crossin, open to adult choral directors.