Catholic Schools Music Festival

Catholic Schools Music Festival

Celebrating its 32nd year, the 2020 Festival deviated from the usual delivery of live performances in a professional Theatre setting. Instead, the 1,600 students from 82 Catholic schools delivered outstanding performances throughout a schedule of film recording sessions, and a series of four one-hour concert videos were created to share digitally with the Catholic community during term 4. The choral repertoire was filmed in the Debourg Theatre at Sacred Heart College, Marcellin Campus on 21 and 22 September and Support Acts attended a pop-up film recording studio in the Mary MacKillop Centre at St Michael’s College Secondary Campus on 14 and 15 September.

The Music Festival was set to be held over four nights in week 9 of term 3 at the Adelaide Festival Theatre. Of the sixty-seven schools participating in the massed choirs, sixty-one were from the Adelaide metropolitan area and six were regional schools: St Joseph’s School Murray Bridge, St Mary MacKillop School Wallaroo, Samaritan College Whyalla OLHC Campus and St Teresa’s Campus, St Joseph’s School Clare, and St Francis de Sales College Mount Barker.

School’s choirs were engaged in weekly rehearsals throughout term one until the COVID-19 outbreak. It then became apparent that the Music Festival team could not plan with confidence a four-night Festival in front of a live audience for September. Schools were unable to rehearse sufficiently during term two therefore the choral repertoire was halved. During term three, choir rehearsals were able to recommence and students could attend intra-school excursions and gather in groups of 300. This year, schools were unable to join as a collective one month prior to the festival for their combined rehearsals therefore students gathered as a massed choir with accompanying musicians for the first time at the film recording sessions.

Support Act video audition applications came from 18 schools with 64 separate audition items. The 2020 Festival committee selected 24 acts comprising instrumental ensembles, vocal groups and solo artists from 14 schools and colleges.

A number of supporting performers accompanied the Festival Choir:

  • Festival String Ensemble comprising 10 students from St Mary’s College, St Aloysius College and St Dominic’s Priory College coordinated by Melanie Harrald from Whitefriars School
  • Secondary Boys Vocal Ensemble with a membership of 29 boys representing Blackfriars Priory School, Christian Brothers College, Nazareth College and St Michael’s College
  • St Aloysius College student Belle Esplin played solo bagpipes in the medley
  • St Michael’s College student Declan Grogan played solo saxophone in the medley
  • Rhythm section staff members from St Michael’s College: Tim Donovan on guitar, Peter Clark on bass guitar and Samuel Millar on drum kit
  • Festival Accompanist, Ms Pamela Buccini on piano.

This year the concert videos included pairs of student comperes. Concert 1 and concert 2 were compered by John Dwyer from Rostrevor College and Lyana Huynh from St Dominic’s Priory College.  Concert 3 and concert 4 were compered by Ava Desteno from Loreto College and Sally Ryan from Cabra Dominican College. These students were filmed separately at the end of the massed choir’s film recording sessions each day at Sacred Heart College.

New to the Catholic Schools Music Festival Management Committee in 2020 was Ms Karla Sparapani, APRIM at St Gabriel’s School.