Illawarra baritone Hayden Barrington performing with an orchestra

A chance to sing in Sydney Opera House: Wollongong Messiah Choir Project

A chance to sing in Sydney Opera House: Wollongong Messiah Choir Project

New choir seeks singers to rehearse and perform Handel's masterpiece

A brand-new choir is being launched in Wollongong and singers will have the opportunity to perform in the Sydney Opera House in December 2022. Wollongong Conservatorium of Music (WollCon), Sydney Philharmonia Choirs (SPC) and the University of Wollongong (UOW) are partnering to deliver this exciting singing project.

Every two years, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs stage performances of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and invite singers to join with the SPC Symphony Chorus in celebratory performances of this iconic work, with professional soloists and orchestra.  This year will be particularly special because it will be the first performance involving singers from communities in and around Sydney since the Concert Hall’s refurbishment. 

Singers from Wollongong and surrounds are invited to come together at UOW for regular ‘Messiah’ rehearsals from late July to early December 2022.  It is anticipated that this exciting opportunity will bring together UOW students, staff and members of the wider community who love to sing and relish the opportunity of performing with a full orchestra in Sydney Opera House.

Illawarra baritone Hayden Barrington (pictured above), a member of The Song Company, one of Australia's most prestigious vocal ensembles, will be conducting the rehearsals before singers head to Sydney to join rehearsals with all the other singers involved, which will be over 300 in number.

This project came about following conversations between WollCon and UOW, which together are keen to bring singing to the lives of more people, particularly UOW students and staff.  

David Francis, WollCon’s CEO was previously the General Manager of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and realised this was a great opportunity.

“The performances of ‘Messiah’ in Sydney Opera House are the most memorable experiences anyone who loves to sing in big choirs can have.  The venue is iconic and the standard of the performance under Brett Weymark’s leadership is second to none.  There is nothing quite like singing the Hallelujah Chorus with full orchestra in a choir of over 300 voices!” David said.

Brett Weymark, Music Director of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs said: “Every two years we invite singers to join us for performances of ‘Messiah’.  The prospect of these performances stimulating a new Choir in Wollongong that meets at UOW is hugely exciting.  It is exactly what SPC is about – sharing the joy of singing – and what better way to do it than through Handel’s masterpiece.”

Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Professor Sue Bennett said: “UOW has invested considerably in our Arts facilities within the new Gillian Broadbent Building.  I’m thrilled that we will be welcoming members of the community to experience these wonderful facilities as they rehearse for ‘Messiah’ along with students and staff from the University – and I can’t wait to hear the results in the Sydney Opera House.”

Rehearsals begin 20 July.  Singers who are interested in joining the Wollongong Messiah Choir should head to Wollongong Conservatorium’s website for more information and to register for the first four taster session rehearsals. 

There’s no audition, but singers will have to be able to keep pitch and be willing to learn the music both at rehearsals and with the support of MP3 tracks which will be made available to help learning.

Dates of performances at Sydney Opera House (singers must commit to all performances):

  • Thursday 8 December, 8pm – 10.40pm
  • Saturday 10 December, 1pm – 3.40pm
  • Sunday 11 December, 1pm – 3.40pm