Winthrop Singers mark decade with anniversary concert


Choir director Dr Nicholas Bannan with singers Holly Broadbent (South Perth), Brock Stannard-Brown (South Perth) and Aishan Chadwick-Stumpf (Eden Hill). Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Choir director Dr Nicholas Bannan with singers Holly Broadbent (South Perth), Brock Stannard-Brown (South Perth) and Aishan Chadwick-Stumpf (Eden Hill). Picture: Andrew Ritchie

DR Nicholas Bannan is proud to have provided a piece of Perth culture with his Winthrop Singers choir.

He founded the group at UWA 10 years ago.

“Any member of the public can go into St George’s College into the chapel at 6pm on any Thursday while we’re in term time and hear the fruits of the labour of these students,” he said.

“We don’t expect applause or money; we’re just doing that thing we believe we do well so that people can enjoy it.

“Sometimes we have very few people there, sometimes a lot more – 30, 40, 90.”

The choir will celebrate its anniversary this month with a performance alongside Pipe Organ Plus.

Past and present members will sing, taking the usual group number of 26 to about 60.

“The highlight of running the choir for me has been the formation of a kind of community, evident in the fact that so many want to come back and take part in this concert,” Bannan said.

“Part of the way we have achieved that is to build the teamwork that has been necessary for members to perform about 50 times a year, once a week or more.

“We do a lot of touring as well. We’ve been to China, Singapore, Geraldton, Albany, Kalgoorlie and Bunbury and have performed and made CDs in New Norcia.

“It is quite an intensive experience only possible when you have a real sense of loyalty and mutual support and that’s what I really associate most with the choir – it’s a big family.”

When Bannan came to work at the university in 2006, choral activity was minimal.

“I was working in music education and was somewhat shocked to realise that a lot of the future music teachers had never sung in a choir despite doing a degree for three years before that,” he said.

“So we now have five choirs at UWA and Winthrop was the first one that I formed.

“One of the main things we did from the start was to look outside the school of music to people who enjoyed singing at a high level but were studying engineering or psychology or medicine.

“It has been very useful in creating a particular social mix.”

2017 also marks the 17th concert season for Pipe Organ Plus.

The anniversary concert program combines organ and choral favourites with music by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Howells, Handel and Stanford.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Pipe Organ Plus Concert Season Launch Anniversary with The Winthrop Singers

When: March 18

Where: The Basilica of St Patrick, Fremantle

Tickets: www.trybooking.com