Humankind has made and listened to music for millennia. As medical imaging techniques become increasingly sophisticated we see that responses to music can be found in the fundamental structures of our brains, with these responses being among the most resilient. Beyond that, a recent study in the United Kingdom has found ‘that singers in choirs report significantly higher psychological wellbeing than soloists’. In addition, ‘choristers feel their choirs to be more meaningful social groups than football players find their teams [!]’. Two of Australia’s leading choral conductors, Richard Gill and Brett Weymark, agree, pointing to the sense of achievement of working together to create something beautiful, and the ‘shared sense of terror and enjoyment that performing gives’ (Limelight, May 2016: 15).
Graduate Singers, over the past 40 years, has been doing just that for its choristers! Indeed, the program from the 1978 concert ‘20th Century European Music’ states, ‘The members of Graduate Singers have two principal reasons for coming together – to explore the pleasures of serious music-making, and to enjoy each other’s company in organised and impromptu social gatherings’.
Our history, starting in 1977, provides insight into Adelaide’s cultural scene over this period. “Grads” has had numerous choristers, conductors, accompanists, assisting artists and soloists, instrumentalists, sound recordists, front of house volunteers, collaborations with other choirs, venues and a wide and varied repertoire, and each has contributed to this vital part of our lives. Grads is an auditioned choir and has generally varied from 30 to 60 members. Over four decades, many people have given hours of their time in a vast array of ways in the quest for a high standard of music-making and shared enjoyment. As with any endeavour there have been times when things have not quite gone to plan; however, the choir has continued ‘to create something beautiful’, and we are delighted to be entering our fifth decade.