The Hunter Singers, Newcastle's own youth choir, will celebrate 30 years this weekend with an anniversary concert that will reunite past members with current young choristers in a celebration of song.
Kim Sutherland OAM, founder and conductor of the Hunter Singers, said the 30-year achievement still comes as a surprise.
"I could not have imagined in 1989 that the group would still be operating in 2019 and that I would still be conducting it," Sutherland said.
At the time of forming Hunter Singers, Sutherland was the regional arts consultant for the Department of Education.
She was inspired to form a regional choir after hearing the renowned Tapiola Children's Choir from Finland at an international music education conference in Canberra in 1988.
Sutherland said she felt that students in Newcastle and wider Hunter region deserved the opportunity to be part of a high quality choral ensemble.
This objective of the choir has since broadened to promote Australian music amongst its members and audiences, with a focus now on Australian music and commissioning works by Australian composers.
During the past 30 years, the Hunter Singers have commissioned 25 new works from eminent Australian composers. The young singers have discovered the joy of telling Australian stories and evoking the Australian landscape for international audiences, Sutherland said.
"The group has developed its own unique sound, with an identifiable youthful thread from the earliest days to the present," she said.
In the past 30 years, 403 singers from 21 NSW public secondary schools have been part of the Hunter Singers family.
On Sunday, November 17, more than 80 of these alumni singers will be assembling in Newcastle for the 30th anniversary celebrations, culminating in a concert at Newcastle City Hall at 2pm.
The anniversary weekend will see old singers returning to their hometown, some travelling from across the country to be in Newcastle for the anniversary, to reminisce on their unique musical opportunities they experienced as young singers.
Hunter Singers is still conducted by Sutherland, who was honoured with an OAM in 2013 for her service to the arts. Sutherland is also the head teacher of Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) at Merewether High School.
The compere for the Sunday's concert will be former 1233 ABC Newcastle Drive presenter Paul Bevan.
Tickets for Hunter Singers 30th Anniversary, available from Ticketek, are selling fast. The ticket cost for adults is $37.50, for students and juniors (2-18 years old) $$14.60 and for concessions $32.40.