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New choir category sees competition shine light on glorious gifts

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Photo credit: Sydney Catholic Schools

Young voices were in full bloom as McAuley Catholic Primary School Rose Bay won the inaugural “Gospel Music” prize category in Sydney Catholic Schools’ 2024 Eisteddfod program.

A chorus line of beaming primary school students showcased their musical talent with choirs from St Joseph the Worker Primary School in Auburn, St Joan of Arc in Haberfield, St Patrick’s Mortlake and McAuley Catholic Primary School Rose Bay all competing Tuesday last week at Domremy College hall in Five Dock for the first ever time.

McAuley took out the competition for their rendition of Wade in the Water.

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The new category is part of the growing Eisteddfod program across Catholic schools in Sydney, which provides arts education for primary school students in areas such as drama, dance, instrumental and vocal competitions.

The initiative has grown substantially since it began in 2021 with ninety-two schools and four days of competition, this year culminating in 1,300 event registrations and 125 schools participating across 22 days of performances.

Technical difficulties did not hold back students John and Olivia and their St Patrick’s choir group from delivering a standout rendition of O Happy Day to judges and the crowd.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ 2024 Eisteddfod program - The Catholic weekly
Photo credit: Sydney Catholic Schools

“Sometimes things can go wrong, but that’s a part of the learning experience,” John said.

“We learned to be brave and not give up while having a lot of fun on stage doing what we love—sing.”

Olivia said being part of a likeminded group of enthusiastic friends elevated the entire experience.

“It’s not just the performance. We’ve been coming together to practice for some time now,” she said.

“Putting that all together on the day is what makes the performance so exciting, because we know that we’ll all come to do our best and give our altogether.”

St Patrick’s teacher Maree Boulis believes the Eisteddfod program has been a shining light for helping students express themselves.

“They might not always enjoy every single component of school but when they have the opportunity to showcase their talents in the ways they enjoy, only good comes from that,” she said.

“Kids have different ways of expressing themselves and the arts has been a growing avenue they’re drawn to. It’s nice to see them in this element.”

Sydney Catholic School’s manager for Performing and Visual Arts Danielle Fuller said this year’s new Gospel section taps into the wide range of musical styles and interests across the Catholic school community.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ 2024 Eisteddfod program
Photo credit:Sydney Catholic Schools

“Gospel music is really based in the expression of people and there’s a level of community which brings so many people together,” Danielle told The Catholic Weekly.

“It’s important to build this wonderful connection to music and faith early in those primary years before they transition to high school because we believe it’s in those formative years that we can have the biggest impact.”

As more schools start to participate in more categories, SCS hopes to likewise continue growing the competition.

“This is a really passionate directive we have as an arts team,” Danielle said.

“It would be lovely to build on that so more students are able to enjoy those performances and grow as kids.”

A showcase of the best performances from this year’s Eisteddfod will be held on Wednesday 3 July at Marist College Eastwood.

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