On Monday 16 April, Grads members provided the entertainment at what is becoming a regular item on the University calendar, the so-called ‘Golden Graduates Luncheon’, at which graduates of earlier times are given the opportunity to return to the University to be addressed by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, and to be serenaded by the Sydney University Graduate Choir. This was the second such occasion for us to make a contribution, as we performed at the same function in 2011. We noticed the names of well-known baritone, Geoffrey Chard, and Sir Anthony Mason, the former Chief Justice of the High Court, on the guest list this year.
In 2012, in Christopher Bowen’s unavoidable absence due to prior engagement, Claire Dalgarno (alto) took the baton, while Amy Johansen, the University organist, with whom we have a long record of performing together, provided the accompaniment. The University Alumni Office requested the same program as last year: Die Himmel Erzählen (The Heavens are Telling), from Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, If Music be the food of Love, by Purcell, and that rousing ancient student song, Gaudeamus igitur. On the basis of about 20 minutes’ intensive rehearsal on the landing outside the McLaurin Hall, (thereby drawing a subsequent complaint from the Curator to the University Administration, who objected to what has apparently become a regular use of that space but did at least describe our efforts as “very melodic”), we marched across the quadrangle and took up our places in the Organ Gallery, prepared to sing. After waiting a while for Dr Spence to finish his address and to take a number of extraordinarily long-winded questions from some of the assembled diners, we launched into our bracket, concluded it without mishap, and joined the lunch party for dessert and coffee in the main body of the Great Hall. The official program printed the words for Gaudeamus and Claire invited the assembled throng to join in for that piece, which they did vigorously, as she turned and conducted them from on high.
As far as it is possible to tell from within the body of singers, our presentation seemed to go over well and was commented on favourably by those members of the University’s Alumni Department, who were on hand. Special thanks are due to Claire, who later in the day stood in for Christopher in directing the basses and tenors at the regular Monday evening rehearsal, and to Evelyne de Clercq, our President, for her conscientious and successful organization of the Choir’s participation in the event, including arranging University parking for those tiresome, improvident choristers, such as your correspondent, who had forgotten or misplaced their parking passes.
Vivat Academia! Vivant Professores!