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From many schools, one voice – students from across the state gather to form a mixed choir

United choir: Chris Burcin and the students of the choral festival at All Hallows’ School.

MIXING the soprano and alto of the girls’ schools with the baritone and bass of the boys’ schools, All Hallows’ School, Brisbane, hosted a three-day choral festival for Catholic school students from across the state last weekend. 

Organiser and All Hallows head of culture Cathie Neil said it was the first time the schools were coming together to sing and practice together.

“I’ve got great colleagues in other schools and down here, and we all have a similar desire, which is to have our students from our single sex schools be together and make music together through the voice,” Ms Neil said.

Having seen many co-ed schools up north, Ms Neil said she thought the mixed choir was something schools in Brisbane missed out on.

She enlisted none other than St Monica’s College, Cairns, co-curricular arts middle leader Chris Burcin to lead and conduct the choral workshop.

Mr Burcin said the event was centred on expanding the students’ vocal repertoire and while there wasn’t a formal performance at the end, the students did perform for their parents. 

“Which is a really nice way to end the festival, especially at the end of term, these kids have all really rallied to get themselves here for three really well intentioned days,” he said.

“It’s a good mix of students, good mix of voices.”

Mr Burcin echoed Ms Neil and said the event was unique because many students come from same-sex schools.

“They will only sing with all male voices or all female voices,” he said.

“This provides them with a new experience and it’s really all about building the repertoire.”

Ms Neil said the choir drew on sacred music during the festival. 

“One of the first ones we did was an ancient sacred chant and a modern love song to show the message never changes – one’s about God, and God is love, and then (the other song), love is universal,” she said.

“And we’re doing three different Christmas carols in a different language, in Spanish. 

“It’s really a great opportunity to sing in different languages.”

She said common ties to social justice, respect and equal access also united the students from different schools.

“It’s sharing the message of Jesus in the way we work with each other,” she said.

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