H i s t o r y
The Victoria Chorale was founded in October 1993 by Val J Pyers, OAM, after conducting the Melbourne Chorale for almost 30 years. When Val’s services with the Melbourne Chorale were terminated in 1993, Val still felt that he had a lot to contribute. He wanted to create a choir for all Victoria, not just the metropolitan area.
Thanks to Val’s determination and contacts, Victoria Chorale had many major engagements in those early years, including:
Israel in Egypt and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for the 1994 Collins St Music Promenade
Carmina Burana in the opening concert of the 1995 Melbourne Festival
Verdi Requiem with Claudio Scimone for the 1995 Collins St Music Promenade
As a result of this concert, Maestro Scimone agreed to become patron of the choir
Verdi Aida with Victorian Opera at Opera in the Bowl 1995
Berlioz Te Deum, Faure Requiem and Carmina Burana with the music department of Monash University
In his 13 years conducting Victoria Chorale Val organised and conducted about 65 concerts in regional Victoria, of which more than half were in the central highlands region. Val also organised numerous invitations to sing at major music festivals at country towns throughout Victoria including the Castlemaine State Festival, the Port Fairy Festival and the Ballarat Organs of the Goldfields Festival.
Val Pyers was diagnosed with cancer in August 2006 and retired from that date. The period from this diagnosis to Val’s death in early 2007, was a trying time for all people involved with the choir and many long term choir members decided they could no longer sing with the choir. The choir did not start to re-establish itself until the two Val Pyers memorial concerts in 2007 after six months of uncertainty. Victoria Chorale then took quite some time to work out what was achievable without Val’s input.
Since 2012 under Mario Dobernig, the choir continued this growth and has had wonderful performances of Carmina Burana with Ballarat Wind Orchestra, as well as Faure Requiem, Haydn Nelson Mass and Handel Coronation Mass, not to mention our involvement in the Zelman Orchestra’s Mahler Symphony No. 8, Stonnington Symphony's Beethovan Ninth, and Mozart's Great Mass with the Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir.
This growth continued under Raymond Yong in 2010 and 2011 with successful collaborations with Orchestra 21, Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra and Stonnington Orchestra, a total of 6 concerts with orchestra. Highlights included Haydn Harmoniemesse and the 2011 Xmas concert performance of cantatas from Bach Christmas Oratorio with Orchestra 21.
The choir started to blossom again under the baton of Matthew Toogood from 2007 to 2009, and there were many wonderful performances including Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Handel’s Solomon with Sally-Anne Russell. There were also successful collaborations with MonUCS and the University of Melbourne Faculty of Music choir, including Mozart’s Mass in C minor.
Bruce Macrae was a caretaker conductor for a year during which time the choir sang Faure Requiem and an Easter program at Geelong and the two “Tribute to Val Pyers” concerts.