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Presidents Message

Presidents Message

Monday 1st November, 2021

Dear ANCA Members,

Writing to ANCA members as President brings back such varied memories of ANCA’s early days! Many (most perhaps) don’t know me, but I was there at the very beginning in 1984 when the Australian Choral Conductors Association (ACCA) was formed in Brisbane with the purpose of providing training for choral conductors. ACCA soon joined with the similar Victorian association and ANCA, which now included choirs and choristers, was formed. In those early days I had my turn at being President of the Queensland State Committee and also the National Committee.

Now here I am again, invited by the National Committee to step in as President after Debra Shearer-Dirié’s recent retirement. Along with me, the National Committee has appointed Brian Nally to be Treasurer and has coopted Marianne Rigby as Major Organisation Liaison. As I write, we haven’t all met as a committee yet, but I look forward to working once
again on the National Committee.

We aimed high with ANCA right from the first days, running weekend workshops with overseas guests, national conferences and many conducting classes for beginners to experienced conductors. There were relatively few community choirs in Australia in the 80s. Each year in primary schools, choirs were formed to prepare for an eisteddfod and then disbanded straight after the event. Few of the school conductors had any conducting training, even if they had studied at a Conservatorium. Now there is a choir to suit everyone of every age.
I’m sure that over the years ANCA has had a big part in the creation of many hundreds of school choirs and adult and children’s community choirs with competent and confident conductors.

Over the years I personally have benefitted a great deal from all that ANCA has offered in the way of workshops, conducting master classes, repertoire sessions, local and international conductors and choral specialists, and the wonderful Choralfests.As I look at ANCA closely now as President, I see a thriving organization, one which has sailed through ups and
downs and generally come through stronger, one which continues to offer its membership learning, singing and exciting experiences. It is an enormous credit to the enthusiasm and hard work of numerous state and national committees that the original vision has never been lost through the past almost 30 years.

It is so interesting to me, and shouldn’t come as a surprise, to see that difficult issues that we struggled with in the early days are still challenging our committees. Issues such as budgeting for events to ensure that they break even, management of state finances, managing the national administration, management of events. What is so encouraging is the significant number of enthusiastic members who work hard on all our committees to ensure that there are local as well as national ANCA events for members.

As an ANCA member I pay tribute to Debra for her leadership in recent times and thank her and her committee, not only for keeping the ship steady in somewhat stormy times, but also for keeping the offerings to members flowing. In spite of pesky Covid restrictions stopping most Australian choirs from singing, the magnificent ANCA 30th Birthday Webinar Series has provided us with continuing learning experiences, and we have the 2022 Research Seminar and the 2023 Choralfest in Adelaide to look forward to.
Thank you to everyone who responded to the national survey of choir members. As I write I’m looking forward to learning the results. The multiple benefits of singing together must be
more widely acknowledged and singing must be considered along with every other activity for which the government regularly publishes guidelines.

Else Shepherd

ANCA National President

ABRN 097 629 448 ABN 84 529 930 920


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