The University of Western Australia’s premier choir will travel to Singapore this weekend to participate in a rare performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony as “a gift to the entire nation” in celebration of Singapore’s 50th birthday.
The Winthrop Singers will take part in two concerts performing Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at Singapore’s Esplanade Concert Hall on July 10 and 11.
The choir travelling to Singapore comprises 15 students from the Faculty of Arts (most of whom are studying music), three from the Faculty of Science, one from the Faculty of Education and one studying Music/Law.
Choir director and tenor Dr Nicholas Bannan, a senior lecturer in UWA’s School of Music, said the group was thrilled to be invited to participate in the event in Singapore.
“This is our first visit to Singapore, and we look forward very much to representing UWA and St George’s College as ambassadors,” Dr Bannan said.
Featuring eight vocal soloists, four large choirs (including three from Australia), a children’s choir, large symphony orchestra, separate brass ensemble and an organ, this is only the second time the symphony will be performed in Singapore. The Winthrop singers will join another Perth-based choir, Collegium Symphonic Chorus, as well as Queensland Festival Chorus, and two Singaporean choirs.
The Winthrop Singers group was formed in 2007 as a partnership between UWA’s School of Music and St George’s College to perform Evensong weekly during term-time. The choral program is open by audition to undergraduate students at UWA.
The choir has up to 26 singers, including eight sopranos, six altos (female contraltos and male counter-tenors), six tenors and six basses as well as one or two student accompanists on organ and piano.
Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire and requires huge instrumental and vocal forces. It is known as the “Symphony of a Thousand” although the work is often performed with fewer than 1,000 musicians.
Dr Bannan said Mahler involved choirs in three of his symphonies as an extension of his orchestra although No 8 was by far the largest and most consistently choral.
“We’ve been rehearsing for many months because it’s a tricky piece to sing in German and we also need to build our vocal stamina – singing loud without effort,” he said.
As well as singing every week at St George’s College, the choir travels around rural and remote Western Australia, providing performances and workshops for people who do not normally hear choral music. The Winthrop Singers will perform a special pre-Singapore concert this Friday 3 July in the dining hall at St George’s College at 7.30pm.
Winthrop Singers Singapore tour
Grace Feltoe,Soprano, Edgewater, Music
Bronwen Herholdt, Soprano, Crawley/Nedlands, Music
Rachel Martella, Soprano, City Beach, Music
Delia Price, Soprano, Bull Creek, Music
Pia Schelfhout, Soprano, Stoneville, Music
Tallulah Starkie, Soprano, Woodlands, Arts: Communication & Media Studies
Elyse Williams, Soprano, Lansdale, Music
Chelsea Davis, Alto, Wembley, Music
Alison Pitts, Alto, Bull Creek, Science
Gabrielle Ruttico, Alto, Albany, Music
Audrey Wong, Alto, Singapore/Willetton, Music
Lucian Watkins, Assistant Director/Bass, Toodyay, Education
Joshua Adams, Tenor, Bateman, Music
Dr Nicholas Bannan, Director/Tenor, Duncraig, Music
Kai-en Chua, Tenor, Singapore/Crawley, Science
Josiah Padmanabham, Tenor, Ellenbrook, Music/Law
Kalyb Prince, Tenor, Port Kennedy, Music/Arts
Gregory Bannan, Bass, Duncraig, Music
David Buckley, Bass, Crawley Music
Asher Caley, Bass, City Beach, Science - Psychology
Shane Goh, Bass, Singapore/Crawley, Music