I find it fascinating that many classical music supporters in this country have become so enamored with the acquisition of prestige string instruments. The Australian String Quartet now has a beautiful matching set of Guadagninis, while the Australian Chamber Orchestra recently acquired a new Stradivarius cello on top of other such procurements. Having heard both groups recently, the quality of instruments and playing are at an incredibly high level.

Paul Stanhope, Stradivarius Antonio Stradivari by an unknown artist

I’m guessing that the cost of these instrument purchases is astronomical, making the acquisitions even more startling in an age of funding scarcity. I should be clear that in no way am I criticising these investments, but it did give me pause to reflect on funding priorities in general, especially considering another valuable instrument: the human voice. Sure, the biggest name opera singers command large fees, but financial support and opportunities are relatively poor for singers in their (often long) development stage.

Which brings me to the choral scene in Australia. Although we have one of the best youth organisations in the world in Gondwana Choirs, the situation when it comes to choirs in general is poverty-stricken. Even...

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