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Choir brings home swag of wins from Queensland Eisteddfod

An Ipswich choir has been named Grand Champion at the Queensland Eisteddfod.

The Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir (BICC) won every section they entered at the annual state-wide competition.

Like many other local arts organisations, the Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir (BICC) had one of the most difficult years in its 135-year history during 2020.

BICC president Nicola Harris puts their win down to a combination of perseverance, technical wizardry and hard work.

“The choir has come back stronger than ever, taking a clean sweep of the 127th Queensland Eisteddfod held in Maryborough over the Easter weekend,” Ms Harris said.

“It was wonderful to be able to compete in the Eisteddfod again following its cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“It was the culmination of hard work and dedication from all the participating choristers, conductors, accompanists and organisers throughout trying and difficult circumstances.”

Prior to 2020, the Eisteddfod had been cancelled only a handful of times – due to catastrophic floods, the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic, and the threat of Japanese invasion during World War II.

Greater Brisbane’s pre-Easter lockdown almost saw the choir’s Eisteddfod dreams dashed before they’d begun.

The final public health advice allowing the event to go ahead – under COVIDSafe restrictions, including masks – was received less than a day before the first sections were due to start.

Despite this, four choirs from South-East Queensland – BICC, Ipswich Orpheus Chorale, Caloundra Chorale and Theatre Company, and the Queensland University Music Society – travelled to Maryborough to compete in a diverse range of sections, from classical to modern choral music, musical theatre and hymn singing. 

The choir was one of the first in Queensland to begin rehearsing again in June 2020 – initially over Zoom, then gradually bringing a small number of members back into the rehearsal space as restrictions eased.

The choir held a free online ‘Concert of Hope’ in August 2020, and was finally able to hold a restricted in-person performance in November.

All their hard work was rewarded in the results of the Queensland Eisteddfod, where the BICC Senior Choir and Youth Choir won every section they entered (16 in total) and came away with the Grand Champion Choir Aggregate (Senior Choir) and Youth Choral Aggregate (Youth Choir).

Many choir members also achieved fantastic results in the individual vocal sections, while BICC stalwart Bronwyn French was awarded the adjudicators’ prize for most proficient accompanist.

For Ms Harris, the Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir’s future looks bright.

“We really see ourselves as a family, and it’s great to finally have everyone back together again,” she said.

“We’re now looking forward to our next concert in June, and then our theatre restaurant later in the year, which is always popular with audiences.

“We realise how lucky we are here in Queensland to even be able to make music together, when musicians in so many other places still can’t.

“Being able to come together with other choirs from across the state was an absolute joy.”

The Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir is a non-auditioned community choir comprising five ensembles, including adult, youth, and children’s choirs.

The Senior Choir rehearses on Mondays at 7.30pm in the Cambrian Centre, 10 South Station Road, Booval.

Everyone is welcome and no experience is necessary. For more information on rehearsals and upcoming concerts, visit www.cambrianchoir.org.au.

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