The Australian soprano and early music specialist will be teaching at the first Perth Choral Institute Summer School.

The Perth Choral Institute has announced a new initiative to bolster choral singing in Western Australia, the Perth Choral Institute Summer School. The eight-day residency for singers between the ages of 15 and 25 has been designed to provide an intensive week of training in singing and choral music, giving students the opportunity to work with mentors who have links to WA, including bass-baritone Andrew O’Connor and soprano Sara MacLiver.

The aim of the course is to provide choral experience for singers who may not have access to grassroots training at an early age. “We’re hoping to further raise the very high standard of ensemble singing in Perth,” MacLiver tells Limelight, “and to develop singers at a young age (in a choral forum). These young singers will have an opportunity to learn some basic vocal and choral techniques, to develop their aural skills and to perform in a variety of genres.”

MacLiver believes in the importance of early opportunities for choral singing for a number of reasons. “There is the opportunity to learn more about music through the choral experience and to develop musicality and music appreciation,” she explains. “The wonderful thing about young children is that they have very few inhibitions so they tend to give it their all without worrying about what others think. I believe that if we can foster a love of singing at a young age, we will be helping to create a generation of music lovers and music participators, and music brings so much joy.”

Participants will perform concerts and services in the Perth Town Hall, St George’s Cathedral and St Patrick’s Basilica and one of the features of the Summer School is that they will learn from professional singers who come from WA themselves. “They will have the opportunity to work with experienced singers who have technical expertise, a vast array of experiences spanning many years and a genuine love of music that they are keen to share with these young singers. I think it also shows the kids that despite our isolation, we have been able to have a successful career.”

For MacLiver, the aim of the project is to provide more opportunities for singers in a choral context, both in an amateur and professional capacity. “Australia does not have a long, nor indeed particularly strong tradition of choral music like countries such as England and Wales,” she said. “There is no reason why we can’t change that. In fact, I believe we are on the way to changing it with the many fine choirs and choir directors already making great music around the country. I hope that we can continue to really develop this even further so that singing becomes part of our children’s every day lives.”

“Singing is free and everyone has a voice,” MacLiver says, “so it’s accessible to absolutely everyone. There is strong evidence to suggest that children who are involved in music do well academically and are more focused. By creating more opportunities to be involved in choral music, not only are students enhancing their cultural experience but potentially improving their academic results as well. Richard Gill believes that every single child at school should sing, daily, and I couldn’t agree more!!”

The Perth Choral Institute Summer School is available for Upper School students (ages 15+) and undergraduates. Applications close December 9

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