Organists of St Stephen's Presbyterian and Uniting Church

Macquarie Street, Sydney

 

Please click here to return to the St Stephen's web site

 

 
Richard Edward Phillips (1880 - 1883)
   

 

George W Yarnton (1883 - 1890)

 

 
Harry Chandler (1890 - 1940)
 
Murray Fastier (1940 - 1940)
 
George Vern Barnett (1940 - 1946)
 

 

Leonard Bell (1946 - 1953)

 

 
W. Ken Charlton (1954 - 1965)
 
James Forsyth Grant (1965 - 1972)
 

 

Dr Leonard Burtenshaw (1972 - 1981)

 

 

 

Margaret Orchard (1982)

 

 
Heather Moen-Boyd (1983 - 1987)
 

 

Bruce Brown (1987 - 1991)

 

 
Anthony Souter (1991 - 2000)
 
Daniel Dries (2000 - 2006)
 
Peter Guy (2006 - 2007)
 
Adrian Chong (2007- 2009)
 
Mark Quarmby (2009 - )

   

 

Minister
Year
Organist / DoM
Choral Director
Assistant Organist
Organ Scholar
Rev. Dr Robert Steel (June 1862 - Oct 1893)
1877 - 1880
Precentor - Mr William Smith (resigned March 1880)
1880
Willis organ installed in St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Philip St and opened on 8 February, 1880.
1880 - 1883
Richard Edward Phillips 1
C B Forster (1883) 2
1883  - 1890

George W Yarnton 2

Mr Clifton (1888) 17
Rev. John Ferguson (Aug 1894 - Mar 1925)
Rev. Hugh Paton (Sept 1925 - Apr 1933)
Rev. James McLeod (Dec 1933 - Mar 1939)
1 July 1890 - May 1940
Harry Chandler MA 3
W. Ken Charlton (acting organist 1939)

 

24 March 1935
New Macquarie St church building dedicated with new Hill, Norman & Beard (Melbourne) organ.
Rev. Alan Tory (Sept 1939 - Mar 1951)
May 1940 - June 1940
Murray Fastier BA LRSM 4
W. Ken Charlton (1940 - 1953) 6
18 Oct 1940 - 18 Apr 1946  
George Vern Barnett 5
Rev. Gordon Powell (Feb 1952 - Nov 1965)
1946 - 1953
Leonard Bell 7

Trevor Wilkie Kenneth Stenton 14
Keith Asboe 19
1954 - 1965
W. Ken Charlton 8
Audrey Cummins (1954 -1965) 15
Rev. Graham Hardy (May 1967 - Jan 1987)
1 Nov 1965 - 30 April 1972
James Forsyth Grant 13
May 1972 - Sept 1972
(Mr) Val Robertson 13
1 Oct 1972 - 1981
Dr Leonard Burtenshaw 13
Allan Nicholls (1976 - 1980)
1976
St Stephen's becomes part of the Uniting Church of Australia
1982
Margaret Orchard 16
Geoffrey Kendall  (1982 - 1984)
Leonie Hempton (1982? - June 1987) 18
[Rev. Bern Stevens]20 (Feb 1987 - Mar 1988)
Jan 1983 - Jan 1987
Heather Moen-Boyd
Peter Pocock  (Feb 1985 - 1989)
Mark Quarmby (Sept 1984 - June 1987) 18
Graham Miller (1984)
Rev. Scott McPheat (Apr 1988 - Apr 1999)
June 1987 - 1991
Bruce Brown 12
Kurt Ison (1988 - Dec 1992) 10
1991 - April 2000
Anthony Souter
Tina van der Graaf  (1993 - ?) 10
Rev. Bruce Walker (May 1999 - Oct 2002)
Rev. Dr Bill Ives (Dec 2002 - Dec 2004)
Rev. Dr Matthew Jack (Feb 2004 - Jan 2010 )

July 2000 - Jan 2006
Daniel Dries 9
Jennifer Lee (? - c.2002) 10
Feb 2006 - Aug 2007
Peter Guy 11
Edwin Taylor (2007)
Sept 2007 - June 2009
Adrian Chong 11
Gavin Ward (2008)
Aug 2009 -
Mark Quarmby 11
Tim Chung (Nov 2009 - Feb 2010)
David Tagg (Feb 2009 - June 2011)
[Rev Dr David Gill, Rev Dr Paul Logan
Rev. Neil Eriksson]21
(Feb 2010 - Apr 2011)

Rev. Dr Ockert Meyer (May 2011 -  )

Anthony Pasquill (Feb 2010 - Dec 2013)

 

Dr David Hood (March 2014 - )

David Tagg (July 2011 - Sept 2013)

Joshua Ryan (August 2013 - )

 

 

 

 

Footnotes

 

Some of the Chandler, Yarnton and Phillips reports from the Sydney Morning Herald below were researched by the editor of the Sydney Organ Journal, Peter Meyer (July 2011). A lot of the information below came from archived Orders of Services and Annual Church Reports. These are held in the Ferguson Memorial Library, the Archives of the Presbyterian Church.  Copies of these documents were given to Mark Quarmby by Margaret Warden, a long-time member of St Stephen's and volunteer at the Ferguson Memorial Library, who is researching all the ministers and assistant ministers during St Stephen's history.

 

 

 

1          The first organist at St Stephen's appears to have been Mr R.E. Phillips. He was also choirmaster. He is not to be confused with at least two other organists named Phillips: Benjamin Jowett Phillips at Glebe Congregational Church and C.J. Phillips in Bathurst and Kelso. RE Phillips is reported at St Stephen's in SMH 7.9.1881, p.6; 6.9.1882, p.8 and 4.8.1883, p.9. On this last occasion he was presented with an illuminated address and a mahogany and rosewood desk as a "token of esteem" etc. The report does not say that Phillips left St Stephen's at this time but we may suspect that he did. The next report of him is his resignation from St Luke's, Redfern in 1885 (SMH 30.11.1885, p. 9). He may well have been followed at Redfern by Chandler till 1890.

There is also a report of his accompanying several combined churches choirs in a concert at St Stephen's on Tuesday 6th September, 1881 (SMH 7.9.1881, p. 6).

In a letter dated 8 August 2012, R.E. Phillips' granddaughter, Dorothy-Clare Amundsen, provided some further information and photographs. She writes:

"I am a granddaughter of Mr R.E. Phillips, who was Organist & Choirmaster at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church from 1880 until 1883. 


Richard Edward Phillips
(Photo: Dorothy-Clare Amundsen)

Richard Edward Phillips was born in Liverpool, U.K. in 1842.

He emigrated to Australia with his brother, Benjamin Jowett Phillips, in 1879.

He married Helen Macgillvray Black, a leading soprano, on 22nd July 1887.

He died in 1897.

I have in my possession the illuminated address and the mahogany and rosewood desk that the choir presented to him in 1883.

The mahogany and rosewood desk presented to R.E Phillips from the choir in 12 December 1882
(Photo: Dorothy-Clare Amundsen)

The illuminated address presented to R.E Phillips from the choir in 1883
(Photo: Dorothy-Clare Amundsen)

I also have some other interesting items: a draft, in pencil, written on the back of a voting paper for the election of elders and deacons in 1883, in which he discusses concerns he has about some 'activities of certain gentlemen'.  This is addressed to his leading soprano, Miss Black, who eventually became my grandmother!  Other letters dated 26 June 1883 from Mr David Shearer of Perth and 23 October 1883 from Mr Geo Oliver Jones of Liverpool, UK, are effusive in their praise for the quality of his choir.

My great great grandfather studied at Cambridge University and was the Minister of East Tytherley Church in Wales for 49 years.  Two of his grandsons, Richard Edward and Benjamin Jowett, emigrated to Australia in 1879 and settled in Sydney where they estalished a tanning factory in Smithfield, and it would appear they both quickly became involved in their church and musical interests.  Richard went to St Stephen's and Benjamin went to Glebe Congregational Church as organists.

In 1887, my grandfather (Richard Edward), married Miss Black and my father was the eldest of three children.  Sadly, my grandfather accidentally drowned in 1897.  Benjamin Jowett, while travelling from Melbourne to Sydney in 1912, became ill and died in Pambula and was buried in a cemetery that no longer exists there, owing to floodwaters which eroded the area."

 

2          The second organist was Mr George W. Yarnton. He was playing at St Stephen's as early as March 1884 (SMH 10.3.1884, p. 5) when he shared the playing with a Mr  C.B. Forster. This reference is to a Sunday School annual prize-giving, held in the church when both Yarnton and Forster played the organ. It may be that Forster was the Sunday School organist (or pianist) rather than assistant organist. Yarnton was on his own and is stated to be the St Stephen's organist in two other SMH references: 16.6.1886, p. 9 and 29.1.1887, p.13. He is listed among the organists attending the welcome dinner to Alfred Hollins, SMH 23.8.1904, p. 8 though by then he had left St Stephen's and there is no reference to where he might have gone. According to NSW Births, deaths & marriages, he died in 1912. There is no record of his marriage or birth in NSW.  

Yarnton is of particular interest as one of the half dozen competitors in the first Sydney Organ Competition held in 1872 and the SMH report of the event describes his playing in detail.

As there is no SMH report of any other St Stephen's organist until Chandler becomes organist in 1890 it is probably fair to assume that Yarnton held the position until late 1889 or early 1890.

In the SMH (Saturday  29th January, 1887, p. 13) there is a report on the Annual Meeting at St Stephen's where thanks were given to the organist, Mr. G.W. Yarnton.

His father, George Swinnerton Yarnton, first appeared in the Sydney press as a clerk in a law office and became a solicitor whose main line of work seems to have been insolvency. There are dozens of cases reported.

George William seems to have been the eldest of three children (two sisters) and was born in Newtown in 1842. The first reference to him in the press was as the importer, wholesaler and retailer, George William Yarnton & Co, Ironongers with premises at 44 Market Street in 1863. Twenty years later he was declared insolvent. Meanwhile he was appointed organist at St John's, Ashfield (1869-78) where he then lived, and entered the first Sydney Organ Competition just before his thirtieth birthday in 1872. He was elected an Alderman on the Ashfield Borough Council in 1874 and was chairman of the Ashfield Cricket Club in 1875. Following his insolvency he became a House Agent, presumably a Real Estate Agent today - Hynard and Yarnton House Agents. He also advertised for piano pupils in 1883 with a George Street studio as well as teaching them at his home in Summer Hill. (This may have been his father's home though he lived in it for the rest of his life). In 1889 he was elected secretary of the Summer Hill Choral Union at its foundation. He wrote several letters to the SMH, one about a dog tax and another about wild cattle on the road to Fivedock! He had a Richard Lipp piano which he advertised for sale in 1887. No-one seems to have bought it because it was listed in his deceased estate in 1912. In 1902 he used the post-nominals, ALCM (Associate of the London College of Music).

In 1898, the City Organist, Auguste Weigand, played one of his compositions, "Sunset Melody" at the Sydney Town Hall. This is interesting because Weigand only played the compositions of Sydney musicians with whom he was on good terms. Lardelli was another but there were not many others. The SMH review says it was "a sweet and dreamy piece, in which the Vox Humana and reed combinations were largely employed". In 1904 Yarnton was one of those who dined at the Wentworth Hotel with the Lord Mayor at the official welcome given to the famous blind, British organist, Alfred Hollins and his wife. This implies that he was respected in the music community. This was the last mention of him in the press until his death. There is no evidence that he ever married.

 

In the The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, (Thursday 13th March, 1884) there is this report which may imply that Mr Sydney Moss LCM was also an organist at that time (although he may have been associated with one of the other Presbyterian Church choirs brought together for this event):

"In the evening [Monday 10th March, 1884] a special service of song was held in St Stephen's Presbyterian Church to give illustrations of the new hymn book "Church Praise," which it is proposed to introduce into the Presbyterian Churches of New South Wales. "Church Praise" is based upon "Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship," which is at present in use ; but the changes made have been so great, and the reconstruction of the book has been so complete, that it was deemed by the compilers necessary to give it a new title. That of "Church Praise" has been adopted. The book has by the synod of the Presbyterian Church of England been authorised for use in the churches of that denomination. The rendering of last night's service was committed to the United Presbyterian choirs who were under the conductorship of Mr. A. Bowen. The responsible duties of organist were performed by Mr. Sydney Moss, LCM., who presided with his customary skill. A number of selections were given by the choir, and a number of solos by two ladies and a gentleman. Portions of the oratorio "The Messiah" were also performed. At the close of the service a vote of thanks was passed to all who had taken part in it."

Mr Sydney Moss is listed as a piano teacher at "Abbotsleigh Boarding and Day School for young ladies" in St Leonards in SMH Sat 19.3.1897 p.3.  In his obituary (SMH 16.4.1902 p, 3) there is no mention of his being an organist but his skills as a pianist and conductor are praised and he was obviously well known and respected in Sydney after having studied for 9 years in Leipzig.  He was 48 when he died. His name appears as the conductor of many choral concerts.

 

3          The earliest report of Chandler playing at St Stephen's is the SMH 1.7.1890, p.2. Prior to that he is reported as having published a composition which may be a song entitled "The Organist". The Herald's critic was not favourably impressed with the harmonic development of the piece (SMH 30.4.1890, p.8). Another composition, perhaps an anthem, is "Crossing the Bar" (SMH 4.4.1908, p.2). Prior to going to St St Stephen's, Chandler was organist at Redfern Presbyterian which was also known as St Luke's, Regent Street. (SMH 26.9.1887 p.8) It had no pipe organ at the time. Chandler was still there in 1889.  

Chandler was originally a schoolmaster. He graduated from both the teacher training college and Sydney University. He graduated MA (school of philosophy) (SMH 3.5.1909, p.5). He was Principal of Knox College, North Sydney and an ad for the College states that he had 25 years' experience teaching in the State system. (SMH 26.6.1909, p.19). One can assume, therefore, that he was not a professional musician. The ads for the College also state that he is organist at St Stephen's.

He resigned as organist in May 1940 (Church annual report).  


Photo: Australasian Town & Country Journal, 14 May 1898, page 30

In the SMH (Monday 30th December, 1935 p.6), there is a report entitled "Organists and Church Services" written by "Diapason":

The removal of St Stephen's Presbyterian Church to Macquarie-street has resulted in greatly improved musical conditions, according to Mr Harry Chandler, who for many years, has been in charge of the organ and choir. Not only is there a new organ of exceptionally fine variety of tone with its console in front of the choir stalls but the seating arrangements and acoustic properties are both excellent. The morning service is of plain Scottish type, the evening service has more music, a preliminary organ recital, choral Sanctus and anthem. The congregational singing is good."

 

4          Listed as "Organist" on the St Stephen's Orders of Service held in the Ferguson Memorial Library, the Archives of the Presbyterian Church – researched by Margaret Warden, a long-time member of St Stephen's and volunteer at the Ferguson Memorial Library.

The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.), Thursday 14 December 1950, page 6

Mr Fastier was from New Zealand and returned from studying in Paris in 1939. (SMH 30.15.1939 p.5)

According to a report in the SMH 20.1.1940 p.12, Mr Fastier played a recital at the close of the Evening Service at St Stephen's. There are many advertisements for organ recitals played by him during 1940 in various Australian cities in several states.

The SMH (Wed 27.11.1940 p.13) reports that Mr Fastier accompanied a performance of Handel's Messiah on 26 November, 1940 at St Stephen's with the choir of St Stephen's and the Marrickville Choral Society combining, all conducted by Mr F.S.R Foxley.

 

5          Listed as "Organist" on the St Stephen's Orders of Service held in the Ferguson Memorial Library, the Archives of the Presbyterian Church.  An article in Wikipedia states that Barnett died suddenly on 15 April 1946 in Goulburn, New South Wales, where he had just completed adjudicating at the Goulburn Eisteddfod and his funeral was held at St Stephen�s on 18 April, 1946.  According to the Church Annual report, he was also the Choirmaster.  

George Vern Barnett (Google images)

Several newspaper reports of his death can be found in newspapers all over Australia, including as far away as Perth.  The most extensive one is below:

SMH (Tuesday 16.4.1946 p.4) reports:

G. V. BARNETT DIES

Mr G Vern Barnett, organist, accompanist and conductor died in Goulburn yesterday aged 53.

Mr. Barnett was conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Society of Sydney, and organist and choirmaster of St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Macquarie Street.

He had "adjudicated at Goulburn Eisteddfod on Saturday night. On Sunday he was admitted to St John of God Hospital with a heart seizure.

He died yesterday afternoon.

Between 1915 and 1927 Mr Barnett was accompanist, organist and deputy conductor to the Royal Philharmonic Society of Sydney. He resumed as deputy conductor in 1936, and ¡n 1939 was appointed conductor.

He was known as an accompanist to visiting celebrities, and had appeared with Melba, Andrew Black. Henri Verbrugghen, Florence Austral, Laelia Finneberg and Madame Nordica.

Preparation of choirs for eminent conductors from overseas was another phase of Mr. Barnett's activities. Dr. Malcolm Sargent specially complimented him on this work.

He was in much request as adjudicator at prominent musical festivals, and twice made trips to New Zealand to adjudicate at Wellington choral festivals.

A Royal Philharmonic Society performance of Mendelssohn's "Elijah" which was to have been conducted this month by Mr. Barnett will now, it is understood, be taken by Mr. C. Livingstone Mote.

Mr. Barnett leaves a widow, two sons, and a daughter.

The funeral will leave St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Macquarie Street, where a service will be held, for Northern Suburbs Crematorium, at 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.

 

6          Listed as "Deputy Organist" on the St Stephen's Orders of Service held in the Ferguson Memorial Library, the Archives of the Presbyterian Church.  Also listed in the 94th Annual Church report (1943).  

7          Leonard Bell became the first President of the Organ Music Society of Sydney after forming the society at a meeting held at St Stephen's in 1950 - he later became the Head of Music of The Armidale School in 1954.  

Leonard Bell at Sydney Town Hall (photo: Peter Meyer)

 

 

8          W.K. Charlton was the Clerk of the Parliaments in NSW from 1939 - 1954 and was the first Organ Music Society of Sydney Vice President.  He died in June 1972.

W.K. Charlton, OBE Organist and Choirmaster

Photo taken from the 1961 Annual Church Choir Report

 

Birthday Honours

The Organist of St Stephen's Church, Macquarie St, Mr W.K. Charlton, received the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.  Mr Charlton was Clerk of the Parliaments in New South Wales from 1939-54.  He is the son of the late Archdeacon Charlton of Sydney. (The NSW Presbyterian, June 30, 1961 page 7)

His father, Archdeacon William Apedaile Charlton was rector of St Barnabas' Anglican Church, Broadway 1901-1918. William Kenneth was the organist at Broadway during this time so St Stephen's was not his first or only church appointment. He was born in Balmain in 1890, the son of William and Minnie. His father was at that time the rector of St John's, Balmain (Birchgrove). He was an early vice president of the Organ Society.  [researched by Peter Meyer from past newspapers online and Births, Deaths and Marriages online]

 

9          Originally appointed as "Music Co-ordinator" and later changed to "Director of Music".   The evening service ceased when Daniel left in January 2006 and was replaced with a short service after lunch on the first and third Sundays at 2pm. The third Sunday was a communion service. This ceased when Rev Dr Matthew Jack left in Jan 2010.

 

10         Appointed as "Assisting Organist" to play for the Wednesday lunchtime services.   During Rev. Bruce Walker's incumbancy, the congregation size dropped significantly and cutbacks were made which included no longer having the organ and music at the Wednesday lunchtime service.

 

11         Appointed as "Director of Music".

 

12         Bruce Brown died in December 1993 from AIDS. Peter Meyer, Norman Johnston and others deputised for him when he was too ill to play until Anthony Souter was appointed in 1991. Bruce Brown, originally from Illinois, was an American organist who moved to Sydney from San Francisco in the mid-1980s.

 

Bruce Brown (c. 1985) [Photo: The Bruce Brown Estate c/o Lyle Chan]

 

Photo of Jim Forsyth Grant, taken from the 1965 Annual Church Choir Report

 

13         St Stephen's 1972 Annual Church report (researched by Margaret Warden).  The New Zealand organist, Peter Averi played for the first two weeks after Mr Grant resigned before returning to NZ. The report seems to imply that Mr Averi was to remain the organist and that his return to NZ was unexpected, although it does not actually say this. During January 1972, the organbuilder and maintainer of the St Stephen's organ, Stuart Garside, played.  Dr Burtenshaw B.Mus, FTCL, DSCM was listed as "organist-choirmaster".

 

14         The SMH reports (Sat 21.12.1946 p. 21) that the "St Stephen's Choir will render the cantata 'The Story of Christmas' at the evening service (22.12.1946).  Musical director: Leonard Bell LTCL and Organist Trevor Wilkie Kenneth Stenton." Whether he assisted regularly or was just brought in for this event is not specified.

 

15        Title was 'Assistant Organist and Choirmaster'.  See comments from Annual reports below for 1960, 61 and 64.

 

16        Margaret Orchard, who was the Co-ordinator of Music in the Prep School at Shore Grammar School, was a relieving organist at St Stephen's from 1975 and agreed to be the organist after Dr Burtenshaw resigned until a new, permanent organist could be found.   

 

17        In the SMH, Friday 21st December, 1888 there is a review of a 'Choir Christmas Recital' given in St Stephen's, Phillip St.  The conductor was Mr G W Yarnton and the organist (accompanist and soloist) was Mr Clifton.   There is no mention as to whether he was the assistant organist at the church or was a visiting organist for the Christmas concert.  

 

18        Mark Quarmby and Leonie Hempton played alternate Sunday nights for some period before Mark took over playing for all Sunday nights. He also played for the Wednesday lunchtime services, funerals and weddings, with Leonie playing when Mark was not available.  Mark also played for occasional Sunday mornings when Heather Moen-Boy was away. When Bruce Brown was appointed Organist, he wished to play for everything so Mark and Leonie's services were no longer required, even though the position of Organist was only advertised and offered as a Sunday morning position.  Shortly afterwards, Mark was appointed Assistant Organist at St Andrew's Cathedral where he remained for over 20 years before returning to St Stephen's as the Director of Music in August 2009.

 

19        Although never officially appointed 'assistant organist', Keith Asboe was a pupil of Leonard Bell, practised on the organ and regularly assisted in playing for services and accompanying the choir during this period.

 

20        This minister was already on staff as an associate minister at St Stephen's and led the church until a new appointment was made. St Stephen's had long had second ministers, associate ministers and ministers in association.

 

21        The ministers' names in square brackets served during the interregnum.

 

Many of the names and dates were provided by Margaret Warden, a long-time member of St Stephen's and a volunteer at the Ferguson Memorial Library, who went back through extant orders of services and annual church reports held in the Ferguson Memorial Library, the Archives of the Presbyterian Church.



 

Other interesting material

 

The following report appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Monday 2 November 1953, page 6 (Several advertisements can also be found).



Recital By Abbey Organist

Sir William McKie, the Australian-born organist of Westminster Abbey, gave an organ recital in St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Macquarie Street, yesterday afternoon.

The main impression, as with Sir William's first recital here, was of the remarkable quietness of his style. He is typically the cathedral organist rather than the concert virtuoso, and while most genuine musicians would congratulate him on that, his restraint can sometimes tend to monotony in a long recital.

The advantages to his approach were seen once again in his slowly unfolding interpretation of the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, which was a memorable experience in his first recital. And they were felt, too, in the Prelude, Fugue and Variation of Cesar Franck, a composer who can benefit much by restraint.

Sir William gave an impressive performance of the remarkable and insufficiently-known Fantasia in F Minor of Mozart, a fine piece of Baroque architecture erected by Mozart in the enthusiasm of his discovery of Bach.

CHARM, GRACE

The other works included a charming and graceful performance of the first movement of Handel's "Cuckoo and Nightingale," and some small works by English composers.

The St. George Choral Society and the St. Stephen's Church Choir, conducted by Leonard W. Bell, contributed solid and competent performances of Handel's "Zadok the Priest" and Brahms's "How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings."

The recital was given in aid of the Westminster Abbey Restoration Fund.-M.L.


Sydney Morning Herald (Saturday 31 October 1953)

 

THE CHURCHES

Abbey Organist To Give Recital

The organist and master of the choristers at Westminster Abhey, Sir William McKie, will give a recital in aid of the Abbey Restoration Appeal in St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Macquarie Street, at 3 p.m. to-morrow. Sir William, a former music master a Geelong Grammar School and Don at Magdalene College, Oxford, was knighted by the Queen for his services during the Coronation. He is visiting Australia at the invitation of a committee set up to support the appeal by the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, for £1 million for the restoration of the Abbey's stonework. The appeal is sponsored in Australia by the Lord Mayors of the capital cities, and the leaders of the Commonwealth and State Governments. The Coronation Anthem, "Zadok the Priest" will bo sung during to-morrow's recital by the St. George Choral Society and the St. Stephen's Church Choir. The organ programme will include works by Handel, J. S. Bach, Mozart, Stanford and Franck. The combined choirs will also sing the Brahms anthem. "How Lovely are Thy Dwellings."

 


Army News (Darwin, NT : 1941 - 1946), Saturday 31 July 1943, page 3

 







Several famous opera singers have been members of the St Stephen's Choir over the years including Dame Joan Sutherland and Graham Pushee (internationally renowned male alto who is mentioned in the 1975 Choir Report).

The 1961 Annual Church Choir Report contains details of two singers who were to go on to fame abroad.


Charlton reports in the 1961 'Choir Report' that "our former leader Yvonne Minton won the "Kathleen Ferrier prize" at the International Music Festival in Holland".





The St Stephen's Choir in 1960 showing the organ console before it was rebuilt in the early 70s.
World famous opera singer, Yvonne Minton is on the front left. WK Charlton is on the right, back row.

Photo taken from the 1960 Annual Church Choir Report

 


 

Peter Meyer [editor of the Sydney Organ Journal] reports that "Norman Johnston deputised at St Stephen's quite often when Bruce Brown was sick or away and passed the job on to me a few times. Furthermore, his wife, Margery nee Makin, had been a member of St Stephen's choir. Leonard Bell played for their wedding in Shore Chapel. According to Thomas Johnston, his mother also won the Sun Aria but I have been unable to confirm this in the press reports. Maybe she only came second but I know she studied singing at the RAM while she and Norman were in England between 1949 and 1952. She particularly loved singing Schubert lieder. I imagine that she and Norman were both students at the Con 1946-1949."

 


 

Comments relating to the organ from the 'Choir Reports' found in the Annual Church Reports (1938 - 1976)

[some annual reports are missing from the Archives]

 

1943 - "Organ recitals were held each Thursday from May to December and attracted good audiences.  Our best thanks are due to the visiting organists - the Misses Alice Bryant, Lilian Frost, Mesdames May Cummings, Brenda Deloitte Stephen, and Messrs. Maynard Wilkinson, L. C. Mote, E. J. Robinson, N. Pickering, F. W. V. Taylor, Brereton Dudley, Alex Stuart, Leslie Sage, Wilfred Arlom and J.D. Gordon, and to their assisting artists."  G. Vern Barnett, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1946 - "The series of lunch-hour organ recitals was continued and again proved very successful. Attendances throughout were good."  Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster.

 

1947 - "The Lunch-hour Organ Recitals were held each Thursday from April to December and continued to attract good attendances.  Collections from these recitals have materially benefited the Choir Fund out of which music has been purchased, special soloists paid, and other items met which would otherwise have been debited to the Church Funds." Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1948 - "The weekly lunch-hour Organ Recitals were again a great success.  Collections taken at these materially help our church finances, by providing the means to buy new music, pay soloists and generally finance the work of the Choir. I wish to express my thanks to my pupils, and other visiting organists, who have assisted me in the continuance of these recitals." Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1950 - "The weekly lunch-hour organ recitals have been well maintained, and it is pleasing to realise that these are the only remaining regular recitals now held in this city.  My thanks are due to the visiting organists and pupils who have assisted me in this task."  Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1951 - "The weekly lunch-time organ recitals have been continuously maintained.  Several visiting organists, as well as my students, assisted me in this, and I wish to express my thanks for their ready help.  It is important to realise that many organ students who receive their training at St Stephen's go out to become organists at our own suburban churches. This is a very important service which St Stephen's renders to the Church as a whole."  Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1952 - "The weekly organ recitals were not held, and it is hoped that the organ will be completed in time to commence a series early in 1953.  In a matter of weeks now, the organ will be completed, and it is then hoped that the musical ministry of St Stephen's will be greatly extended.  There is no reason whatever, why it should not be the finest of its kind in Sydney, and an inspiration to all who come there for worship."  Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1953 - "With the completion of the organ repairs, the choir again was adequately supported...   A singular event occurred in November, with the visit of Sir William McKie, who gave an organ recital to aid the Westminster Abbey Fund.  Fortunately, I was able, at short notice, to arrange for the St George Choral Society in conjunction with our own choir, to appear with him, and the result was an outstanding success. The weekly organ recitals were resumed and much acceptable playing was enjoyed by the small, but appreciative audiences.  My thanks are extended to all those who gave their services so willingly and efficiently on behalf of these recitals."  Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1960 - "We were sorry to lose the services of Miss Audrey Cummins, our assistant organist, who left to reside at Moree."  W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1961 - "We are pleased that Audrey Cummins has returned to the City and resumed her post as assistant organist." W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1963 - "The visiting American Negro Organist, Mr Kenneth Goodman, gave a most brilliant recital."  W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster.

 

1964 - "To my assistant, Miss Audrey Cummins, I owe a great debt of gratitude for so ably holding the fort and to members for the way they rallied round and supported her, during the period of my serious illness." W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster.

 

1965 - "Mr W.K. Charlton OBE retired as official Organist and Choirmaster after an unbroken service of twelve years. Our appreciation of Mr Charlton's services is all the more enhanced after taking into consideration his association with St Stephen's for fifty-seven years and that during the earlier years of that long period, he acted from time to time as Deputy Organist.

We have been fortunate, however, to obtain the services of Mr. Forsyth Grant, MA, LRAM as Official Organist and Choirmaster - particularly as he comes to us with an outstanding background of musical attainment.  He is Music Director at Scots College and was for many years Organist and Choirmaster at both Scots Church, Sydney, and Pitt Street Congregational Church." Mavis Byatt, Hon. Choir Secretary

 

1969 - "During the absence of Mr Grant on annual leave, the onerous task of choir leadership was once again taken by Mr William Pierce, who carried out his duties in his usual inimitable manner."  Mary Vernon, Choir Secretary

 

1970 - "For a time our organ was under extensive repair and during this period we had a very excellent substitute in an electric organ by courtesy of W.H. Paling & Co. and the artistry of Mr Grant was again most noticeable in the music he was able to bring from the lighter, faster, very sensitive keyboard of the electric instrument.  On the completion and re-installation of our own organ a special Musical Service was arranged for 27th September.  Mr William Pierce substituted for the period at the beginning of the year when Mr Grant was on holiday."  Mary Vernon, Choir Secretary

 

1971 - "In January, while our organist was on annual holidays, Mr Stuart Garside [Stuart Garside was from the organ building company Pitchford & Garside which did the work on the instrument from the 1960s and still maintains the organ] deputised and Mr William Pierce readily made himself available when our organist was on compassionate leave."   Mary Vernon, Choir Secretary

 

1972 - "1972 proved a difficult year for our choir.  On 30th April, Mr James Forsyth Grant, our organist for the previous six and a half years, having in February tendered his resignation, had his last service with us. Mr Grant's ability as an organist was appreciated by us all and numbers had reason to appreciate his perfection as an accompanist. 

While Mr Grant had been on holiday earlier in January, we again were pleased to have Mr Stuart Garside as our organist for several services; we would express our thanks to him for his spontaneous help to us at all times.

For the first two weeks of May, Mr Peter Averi, the talented New Zealand organist, was at the organ console and our choir responded very well under him.  For the long term of vacancy following Mr Averi's return to New Zealand, Mr Val Robertson took over at the console and we thank him for his dedicated service to our church during this time.

We were very pleased when we learned of the appointment of Mr Leonard Burtenshaw as our organists/choirmaster and Mr Burtenshaw took his first choir practice on 28th September prior to his first service in St Stephen's on the first Sunday of October.  We have since also welcomed Mrs Burtenshaw as a soprano member to our choir.

On the 6th June, we learned of the passing of our former organist, the well-loved William Kenneth Charlton, OBE, and our deepest sympathy to his loving wife and family."  Mary Vernon, Choir Secretary

 

1973 - "This was our first full year under the leadership of our musical director and organist, Mr Leonard Burtenshaw.  During the times our organist was on holiday or on special assignments, we were delighted to again welcome Robert Bevan as our guest organist." Mary Vernon, Choir Secretary

 

1975 - "During the year on the occasions of our organist's leave, we had at the organ console on several occasions, Mr John Bacon, who is now in England having been invited to join the music staff of Covent Garden Opera House, and Mrs Margaret Orchard; our thanks and appreciation to both these excellent guest organists for their ready assistance in the times of our organist's absence."

As you know we now have our Organ Tonal Improvement Fund..."  [the report goes on to list various fund-raising functions organised by members of the choir]  Mary Vernon, Choir Secretary

 

1976 - "The choir won a double bonus when Alan Nicholls became our assistant organist, his tenor voice giving valuable support to our tenor line.

We are indeed grateful for the wonderful services of our gifted Assistant Organist, Alan Nicholls.  Alan not only sings and plays, but we have found him to be an unusually gifted photographer.  His photographs of sets of organ pipes taken from quite inaccessible positions in the Organ Chamber have enabled many to appreciate the ramifications of our organ and more readily comprehend the value of the work done and contemplated through the Organ Tonal Improvement Fund"   Mary Vernon, Choir Secretary

 


Choir reports

(1938 − 1975 with some reports missing)

 

Comprehensive Choir Reports were included in the Annual Church Reports. Many names were listed (members of the choir, choir leaders, soloists, choir office-bearers etc which have not been reproduced below). This is a summary of the most important information and includes major repertoire which was listed as having been performed each year. Although it is never mentioned in the reports, long-time church members recall that all the choir 'leaders' (known as the 'Quartette' in earlier reports) were paid.

 

 

1938 - The congregational sinigng continues to be a feature of St Stephen's, due to the work and efficiency of the Choir. The Session thanks the organist, Mr Chandler.

 

1943 - Items rendered by the Quartette continue to be a feature of the morning services. The Christmas Cantata 'The Story of Bethlehem' by John E West was rendered on Sunday evening, 19th December. Thanks are given to the Deputy Organist.

G. Vern Barnett, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1946 - A tribute on the sudden death of the organist and choirmaster G. Vern Barnett was given.  Maunder's 'Song of Thanksgiving' and H. Alexander Matthew's 'Story of Christmas' were performed during the year. The soloists were the members of the church's Quartette who also rendered the quartettes at the Sunday morning services. Thanks are given to the choir Social Secretary and Secretary-Librarian.

Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1947 - In addition to solos, quartettes and anthems rendered at the ordinary services, four special works were given, viz.: - Stainer's 'Crucifixion', Elgar's 'Light of Life', Bach's 'Sleepers, Wake!' and J. Alexander Matthew's 'Story of Christmas' plus a special Carol Service on the Sunday preceding Christmas. Special thanks are given to the Quartette, Deputy Organist, and choir librarian.

Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1948 - Special works rendered included Stainer's 'Crucifixion', Bach's 'God's Time is the Best', and the Christmas Cantata 'The Story of Bethlehem' by John E West. The highlight of the year was a performance of two cantatas, Bach's 'God's Time is the Best' and 'Sleepers, Awake!' Special thanks are given to the Quartette, Deputy Organist, and choir librarian.

Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1949 - Special works rendered included Stainer's 'Crucifixion', Maunder's 'Song of Thanksgiving' and Matthew's 'Story of Christmas'. A notable innovation was the rendering of Handel's 'Messiah' on Christmas night with an augmented choir. The rest of the report is missing.

 

1950 - Special works rendered included Stainer's 'Crucifixion', Maunder's 'Song of Thanksgiving' and the 'The Story of Bethlehem' by John E West. A Bach Festival was held when 'God's Time is Best' and 'Thou Guide of Israel' was performed.

The Quartette has rendered splendid service of uniformly high quality, forming a nucleus of well trained singers of invaluable help to the choir as a whole. An influx of young people as new members, to take the place of the older members who retired, is particularly encouraging. Thanks are given to the Deputy Organist, Choir Treasurer and Librarian-secretary.

Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1951 - Special works rendered included Stainer's 'Crucifixion', Mendelssohn's 'Hear my Prayer' and the 'The Story of Bethlehem' by John E West. The Quartette has been a great support, both by its excellent singing on Sunday mornings, and by its indispensable function of leading the Choir. Thanks are given to the Deputy Organist, Choir Treasurer and Librarian-secretary.

Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1952 - The choir is of better quality and has a better balance of parts, than ever before. A welcome change has been the attendance of a choir at the morning services, instead of just a quartette as previously, although the quartette is still retained to form the nucleus of the whole choir.

The presentation of special works has been rather restricted through the repairs to the organ. However, Stainer's 'Crucifixion' and a new work, Thiman's 'The Nativity' were presented. Thanks are given to the Deputy Organist, Choir Treasurer and Librarian.

Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1953 - Later in the year a series of monthly musical services were inaugurated with the completion of repairs to the organ. Several soloists are listed, with the St George Choral Society singing in December. Thanks are given to the Deputy Organist, Choir Treasurer and Librarian.

Leonard W. Bell, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1954 - The Services of Praise were held to encourage congregational singing. It was hoped to hold occasional hymn practices before or after the evening services. The monthly musical services continued with first-class guest soloists with large congregations attending. The choir rendered special items at each service and several new anthems were introduced. Stainer's 'Crucifixion' was sung on Palm Sunday and excerpts from Handel's 'Messiah' on the Sunday before Christmas. Thanks are given to the 'section leaders', 'assistant' organist and Librarian.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1955 - The Services of Praise continued. The choir rendered 'Olivet to Calvary' at Easter and the 'Oriana Singers' under the direction of Norman Johnston, performed Benjamin Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols' on the Sunday before Christmas. During the year the Music Committee approved the securing of a tenor to strengthen that part. Thanks are given to the 'section leaders', 'assistant' organist and Librarian.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1956 - The Choir has led the Services of Praise and extended its repertoire with many new works which have been rendered at the Musical Services each month. These attracted large congregations and Sydney's foremost soloists in addition to our own Choir Leaders. A new bass leader commenced with more good basses needed. The Choir rendered 'Crucifixion' at Easter and a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas. A number of services were broadcast.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1957 - The monthly Musical Services continued to appeal with prominent guest soloists and choir leaders contributing. 'Olivet to Calvary' was sung at Easter. The Christmas Day service was broadcast nationally on the ABC and this was the first occasion that the choir sang in robes. The Avondale 7th Day Adventist Symphonic Choir visited during the year. Thanks are given to the 'Choir Leaders', Assistant Organist and Secretary-Librarian, Miss Neryl Farley who was farewelled after many years service.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1958 - The Choir continued leading the Services of Praise and the membership increased. Three new 'leaders' were welcomed, including the later internationally renowned Miss Yvonne Minton. The Musical Services provided opportunities for new repertoire. The services were broadcast locally and there were two national broadcasts on the ABC. The passion music from Handel's 'Messiah' was performed at Easter and at Christmas, selections from Alexander Matthew's 'Story of Christmas' were sung. Thanks are given to the choir leaders, and assistant organist.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1959 - The choir maintained a high standard in leading the Services of Praise and membership increased. In addition to special music at our monthly Musical Services, Stainer's 'Crucifixion' was sung at Easter and the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was rendered at Christmas. The Avondale Symphonic Choir and the Estonian Male Choir visited. Thanks are given to the choir leaders, and assistant organist.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1960 - The choir maintained a high standard in leading the Services of Praise and evoked commendation from His Excellency the Governor. Many new anthems were sung at the monthly Musical Services, Maunder's 'Olivet to Calvary' was sung at Easter and the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was rendered at Christmas. The Fellowship provided a choir on two occasions and it is hoped that this may be a means of inducing some of the young people to join the choir permanently.

Two of our members - Yvonne Minton and Shirley Hills - distinguished themselves during the year, the former winning the Mobil Quest at Canberra and the latter gaining third place in the ABC Concerto and Vocal Competition. Thanks are given to the choir leaders, secretary and librarian.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1961 - The Choir continued leading the Services of Praise and many new anthems were introduced at the monthly Musical Services. Several services were broadcast and the Christmas Day service was broadcast nationally on the ABC. The former leader Yvonne Minton won the 'Kathleen Ferrier' prize at the International Musical Festival in Holland. Bass leader, Robert Colman won the Sun Aria. Thanks are given to the choir leaders, secretary and librarian.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1962 - With a strengthening of the bass section, it has been possible to render some of the more ambitious anthems at the morning services. Several prominent soloists sang during the year and Stainer's 'Crucifixion' was rendered at Easter. Robert Colman was one of the Stainer soloists and left during the year to further his musical studies in London. Thanks are given to the choir leaders, secretary and librarian and it is hoped that the assistant organist, Audrey Cummins will be returning to Sydney early in the new year to resume her position.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1963 - Among works rendered were Mendelssohn's two motets 'Hear my Prayer' and 'Come let us sing'. It has been possible to render some of the more ambitious works on Sunday mornings. Thanks are given to the choir leaders, choir office-bearers and the assistant organist.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1964 - A full list of all the choir members and the part they sang is given. There were 12 sopranos, 10 altos, 5 tenors and 7 basses. There were two section leaders for each part (three for the basses), an organist/choirmaster, treasurer, assistant organist, secretary and librarian. Several new anthems were added to the repertoire. The choir received commendation from His Excellency the Governor on two occasions. The organist was seriously ill for part of the year and Audrey Cummins, the assistant, took over for that period. Thanks are given to the choir leaders, secretary and librarian and assistant organist.

W.K. Charlton, Organist and Choirmaster

 

1965 - Thanks are given to W.K. Charlton upon his retirement as organist and choirmaster after 12 years service, although he had been involved at St Stephen's for 57 years and many of them as the deputy organist. The appointment of Mr Forsyth Grant MA, LRAM is announced. He was also the Music Director at Scots College and had been the organist and choirmaster at Scots Church, Sydney and Pitt Street Congregational Church. There were 10 sopranos, 9 altos, 4 tenors and 6 basses. There was a treasurer, secretary and librarian. Mavis Byatt, Hon. Secretary.

1966 - Several new members joined the choir and Stainer's 'Crucifixion' was rendered on Palm Sunday evening. The choir is looking forward to working with the new minister, Rev. Graham Hardy and his wife, both of whom are fine musicians. Four singers were farewelled, including Peter Baillie who left for further musical studies in Europe. There were 12 sopranos, 6 altos, 4 tenors and 6 basses with one leader per part. There was a treasurer, secretary and librarian.

Mavis Byatt, Choir Secretary

 

1967 - 'Olivet to Calvary' was sung at Easter and selections from Handel's 'Messiah' were sung at Christmas. A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was presented on Christmas Eve and many soloists sang during the year at four special Musical Services. There were 13 sopranos, 6 altos, 4 tenors and 5 basses with one leader per part. There was a treasurer and secretary/librarian.

Mary Vernon, Librarian

 

1968 - The tenor and bass sections particularly lacked strength and efforts to overcome the situation have been unsuccessful. An appeal through 'Vision' for talented support for the male parts met with no response. Yvonne Minton made a short visit while on vacation from Covent Garden and thrilled the church with her glorious singing of 'The Easter Hymn' on Easter morning and 'Oh Divine Redeemer' on the evening of the 28th April. On Palm Sunday the choir sang Stainer's 'Crucifixion' and 'The Story of Bethlehem' by John W West was presented at Christmas. At the special Musical Services (evenings) the choir sang 'I waited for the Lord' and Stanford's 'Te Deum' for the first time. Three services were broadcast during the year. There were 13 sopranos, 6 altos, 4 tenors and 6 basses with one leader per part. There was a treasurer and secretary/librarian.

Mary Vernon, Secretary/Librarian

 

1969 - The male members have been loyal but are barely of sufficient strength to meet the requirements of balanced singing in all parts. Our tenor lead position is still unsettled although we have been fortunate indeed with the temporary leads who have aided us, on numbers of occasions at great inconvenience to themselves. We do look to a permanent tenor, with good lead qualities. We too look to a bass leader with good lead qualifications as we are losing our excellent leader.

The opening and closing anthem for the year was 'Put thou thy trust in God'. On Palm Sunday we presented a new modern work by Malcolm Williamson, 'The Procession of Palms' in the presence of the Governor, Sir Roden Cutler. In the evening a new cantata, 'the Saviour' by Lloyd Webber was sung with augmented numbers, thanks to an anonymous donor who paid for the music. A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was presented at the evening service on Easter Day. Malcolm Williamson's 'Te Deum' was sung in October for the Waratah Service. On the Sunday before Advent we sang Bach's Cantata 'Sleepers, Awake!' Eric Thiman's anthem, 'Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies' was chosen for the televised service in June. There were 12 sopranos, 5 altos, 4 tenors and 4 basses with one leader per part and 3 temporary tenor leaders and 2 temporary bass leaders. There was a treasurer and secretary/librarian.

Mary Vernon, Secretary/Librarian

 

1970 - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Princess Anne attended a service in early May and an augmented choir sang an anthem especially composed for the occasion by Malcolm Williamson on Psalm 121, 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills'.

Malcolm Williamson's 'Procession of Palms' was sung on Palm Sunday and the choir sang Easter Carols in the Easter Lessons and Carols service.

Upon the completion of work on the organ, a special Musical Service was held on 27th September at which the choir sang 'Hymn of Praise' by Mendelssohn. Sometimes under difficulties, this difficult work was much appreciated by all. Excerpts from Handel's 'Messiah' were sung on December 13th and the service of Nine Lessons and Carols was held on the Sunday before Christmas.

An anonymous donor gave us 30 copies of 'The Oxford Easy Anthem Book' which we have been thrilled to use during the latter part of the year.

There were 10 sopranos, 5 altos, 4 tenors and 4 basses with one leader per part and 2 temporary tenor leaders and 1 temporary bass leader. There was a treasurer and secretary/librarian.

Mary Vernon, Secretary/Librarian

 

1971 - Several members left the choir with two dying during the year and several new members joined the choir. 'The Crucifixion' was sung on 28th March. The anthem especially composed for the Queen's visit by Malcolm Williamson on Psalm 121, 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills' was repeated on the first anniversary of her visit on 2 May. A service of Nine Lessons and Carols was held on the evening of 19th December and the carol 'St Stephen was a Holy Man' was sung on St Stephen's Day.

There were 10 sopranos, 6 altos, 4 tenors and 4 basses with one leader per part and 4 temporary tenor leaders and 1 temporary bass leader. There was a treasurer and secretary.

Mary Vernon, Secretary

 

1972 - Mr James Forsyth Grant resigned as organist and choirmaster and the 'Hallelujah Chorus' was sung at his farewell service on 30th April. Several people filled in until Mr Leonard Burtenshaw was appointed and commenced on the first Sunday of October. Several people left the choir during the year and the tenor and bass sections were heavily depleted. Only limited anthem music from the library was possible with no major musical work presented during the year. Malcolm Williamson's 'Processional of Palms' was sung on Palm Sunday while carols were sung at Easter and Christmas with soloists singing on Christmas Day.

On 23 July for the church's 130th Anniversary, the Sydney Philharmonic Choir joined us and sang Handel's 'Zadok the Priest' and our own Royal Anthem by Malcolm Williamson on Psalm 121, 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills'.

On 29 October the Alexander Mackie Teachers' College Choir and instrumentalists presented Bach's 'Sleepers, Awake!' and the Katandra Singers, conducted by Joan Whittaker performed Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols' accompanied by harp on 17 December.

Yvonnne Minton returned on holidays from Covent Garden and sang two arias for the Anniversary Service held on the Wednesday in July.

There were 10 sopranos, 6 altos, 4 tenors and 5 basses. The section leaders are not listed. There was a treasurer and secretary.

Mary Vernon, Secretary

 

1973 - This was the first full year with Leonard Burtenshaw and the choir grew in numbers with several new younger members. Early in the year the St Stephen's Consort Choir was formed to sing twice per month at the Evening Service. This was made up of talented young professional voices. Singers from the Australian Opera Company sang solos at services throughout the year.

A new major work was sung on the evening of Palm Sunday, Eric Thiman's 'The Last Supper'. On 20 May in the evening service, one of the student tenors, Wesley Want, studying at the Conservatorium had his avant grade music sung based on the Ten Commandments. Another student member, Philip Oxley, also studying at the Conservatorium, had one of his anthems sung at another service.

The service on 17 June was televised by the ABC and both the St Stephen's Consort Choir and Church Choir joined forces to sing Malcolm Williamson's 'I will lift up mine eyes'.

The Nine Lessons and Carols were sung on 23 December and the choir was joined by the Linnet Girls Choir.

Several singers retired from the choir and there was no list of singers provided.

Mary Vernon, Secretary

 

1974 - The St Stephen's morning choir has had its difficulties over the year. The tenor line is lacking in numbers and we would like to think that members of the congregation who have the reading ability and the voice would speak to our organist for an audition. Enquiries for other parts would be also welcomed.

If the morning choir has its problems the same cannot be said about the newer evening 'Sine Nomine Choir' which is growing in strength and enthusiasm and is now producing some fine music on the two Sunday evenings per month it is singing. It is good to see these young members joining. The third choir, the St Stephen's Consort, has been with us for two years. The choir was initially brought into being to fill a void due to the lack of a choir for evening worship. This select group of semi-professional singers has made a significant contribution on the particular Sunday evenings it sings. During the year it has also sung in the Opera House and Town Hall.

A special fundraising Soirée was held to raise money to finance the cost of the group which has made it possible for St Stephen's to enjoy a standard of music most pleasing to our city church.

For Easter, special Easter music included Malcolm Williamson's 'Procession of Palms' from the morning choir on Palm Sunday and culminated on Easter Night with a full Festival of Easter Music with the St Stephen's Consort Choir.

For Christmas, on Sunday evening 15 December, the morning choir presented Eric Thiman's cantata 'The Nativity' while the following Sunday evening the St Stephen's Consort sang a special service of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Wesley Want's (from the choir) avant garde piece performed last year was recorded and broadcast by the ABC while further works of his were published.

Mary Vernon, Secretary

 

1975 - Some choristers left during the year and new ones commenced although the morning choir worked under difficulties through irregular tenor strength and the loss of valuable altos.

The Sine Nomine Choir has became a distinct force, singing twice a month in the evening services and has continued to attract talented singers. The St Stephen's Consort has continued to enrich evening worship interchanging with the Sine Nomine Choir on an average of once a month. In addition to these two choirs, several school choirs sang at the evening services and included a production by PLC Pymble of Britten's 'Noye's Flude' with Lauris Elms as one of the soloists.

The church choirs presented special music for special seasons. This included 'The Seven Words from the Cross' by Heinrich Schütz for the evening of Palm Sunday, joyous Easter carols, anthems and hymns on Easter Sunday evening and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday evening 21 December. The Sine Nomine Choir presented excerpts from Brahms' Requiem through the year at evening services.

Both the Sine Nomine Choir and the St Stephen's Consort Choir received several invitations to perform elsewhere. Graham Pushee (now internationally famous male alto) was a member of the St Stephen's Consort Choir at this time. Fundraising concerts for the choirs were also held throughout the year.

Mary Vernon, Secretary

 

1976 - Alan Nicholls became the assistant organist and sang tenor in all the choirs. In February a St Stephen's Choir constitution was formulated and agreed. A choir committee was elected with a president.

The Sine Nomine singers, with a strong membership of student singers and the St Stephen's Consort, a smaller specialised group, continued to enrich the evenings services twice a month on an alternative basis. Several of the members are members of both choirs. For the other Sundays visiting school choirs sang and on two occasions, the Sydney University Chamber Choir added to the worship.

On 12 December the St Cecilia Ensemble performed Bach's cantata no. 51 'Praise be God throughout Creation'. Other special music was sung for special seasons. The morning choir sang Stainer's 'Crucifixion' in place of the morning service on Good Friday. A service of Easter Carols was held on Easter Day evening and the Sine Nomine singers sang Bach's Cantata 'Jesu, Priceless Treasure' on 2 May. All the choirs sang in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on 19th December in the evening service. Sine Nomine sang at the Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve in Martin Place.

Mary Vernon, Secretary to the St Stephen's Choir









Please click here to return to the St Stephen's web site