A Choir of Leaders

A Choir of Leaders
October 14, 2022 AGC

A Choir of Leaders

As the adage goes, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. At the AGC, female role models are present in every aspect of the choir, and our curriculum reinforces the message to our choristers that girls can be extraordinary leaders.

Our focus on role modelling and mentoring is an element of our program that sets us apart from similar organisations, with 100% of opportunities held by girls, even in our Executive Leadership Team. In everything we do the message is amplified that girls can take the lead, and through the transformative power of the performing arts, we can encourage girls to unleash their full potential as ambitious young women.

A focus on mentoring and role modelling

The breadth of ages in the choir ranging from Foundation to Year 12 means that the junior@agc choristers, or ‘little girls’ can look up to the senior girls, or ‘big girls’. Naturally as the choristers progress through the AGC’s Training Levels, the standard gets higher, however it is the choristers who have gone before who have set that exceptional standard as an example for future generations to work towards. The AGC’s two yearly concerts and accompanying rehearsals are an opportunity for all choristers to share the stage in harmony, both musically and socially.

“When I was younger, I always looked up to the Choir Leaders and all of the Performing Choir girls. I remember seeing them on concert days and at rehearsals and they were so polished and so talented. I wanted to be like them when I grew up. That became a huge motivator for me because it was something I aspired to.” – Clare Wever, AGC Alumni, Venue Manager and Tutor

Clare Wever is one of 90 ex-choristers employed nationally by ASPA in a Manager, Supervisor, Tutor, or Administration role, or for some employees, a combination of all positions. After graduating from AGC in the role of Melbourne Choir Leader, Clare joined the AGC Venue Manager and Tutor Trainee Program and now works as both a Venue Manager and Tutor while studying Biomedicine. Through seeing Alumni like Clare transition from chorister to AGC staff member, our junior choristers have a role model, who was once just like them, to aspire to.

“I think the way I’ve matured from a young girl to a confident and eager member of my community is attributable to the encouragement I was given during my time in the AGC – to be true to myself, and to throw myself into new (and maybe initially daunting) opportunities.” – Clare Wever

Formalising the role of a leader

Leadership opportunities exist in all levels of the choir, however the opportunities are formalised when the choristers reach Concert Level. Girls who are selected as a leader are encouraged to act as mentors to younger choristers, supporting them both musically and as a friend.

“Being selected as Choir Leader has been one of my happiest memories, as I started as a quiet and shy Allegro girl who adored her Choir Leader, hoping one day I would be just as bubbly, smiley and charismatic.

Now I am so grateful to be a positive role model for the other younger choristers who need someone to look up to, to lead the way and show them that they can do anything they set their hearts to.” – Yasmin Naval-Thomas, Melbourne Choir Leader

In our Senior Performance Groups, the role of Choir Leader is awarded to someone who has consistently demonstrated the qualities of an outstanding role model in the choir, such as excellent work ethic, commitment, maturity, resilience and versatility.

“For me, being the Choir Leader means being at the forefront of representing the whole choir, and a big sister who’s there to help raise everyone up.” – Vivienne Hingston, Perth Choir Leader

The AGC’s ‘In-venue Sorella’ Program is another opportunity for our senior choristers to share their knowledge with their ‘little sisters’ (sorella meaning sister in Italian). The In-venue Sorella program benefits both junior and senior choristers by giving the junior chorister an approachable mentor to learn from, and the senior choristers a chance to take on a role of responsibility by assisting the Tutors for a term of classes. The relationships developed over this time are a true testament to the friendship and sisterhood that we encourage at the AGC.

“I love every one of those girls and can’t wait to see them as future Senior Choristers. The In-Venue Sorella Program has definitely been one of my most memorable experiences with the AGC.” – Perth Chorister

Leaders of their field

Ex-chorister and Melbourne Choir Leader in 1991 Katrina Vanin believes it is important to acknowledge choristers who have a passion for singing, but might aspire to have a career outside of the Performing Arts. For over 10 years Katrina Vanin has been donating the ‘Per amore di Essa Scholarship’ to a passionate chorister who as the translation goes, sings purely ‘for the love of it’.

“It’s so important that young women cultivate the courage to try things. You can’t underestimate the courage it takes to walk onto a performance stage in front of thousands of people. And that’s the energy I want to bring to the scholarship; an enthusiasm for life..” – Katrina Vanin, AGC Alumni

Katrina is now a Doctor specialising in Oncology and mother of four, demonstrating the kind of ambition we aim to instil in all of our choristers.

Leading by example

Our shared desire to develop, maintain and continue our culture of positive leadership at AGC flows down from ASPA Directors, and permeates through to the staff to pass onto choristers. In 2004, AGC Founder Judith Curphey OAM was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to music, particularly through the Australian Girls Choir. Judith has always striven for excellence in the choir, and is the perfect role model for our choristers to see how commitment and passion can lead to success.

In the footsteps of Judith, or perhaps on a path of her own, ASPA CEO Nicole Muir AM  became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2018 for her significant service to performing arts as an administrator, and to women and young girls, particularly in rural and remote regions. As an Executive Leader of ASPA, Nicole ensures that our curriculum exemplifies our values of Respect, Integrity, Collaboration, Innovation and Excellence – all of which point in the direction of being an exceptional leader.

See for yourself why the AGC is about singing and so much more at our November Open Day. Register now for your free class.

“My eldest daughter now 21 received early entry into our local Universities Global Leadership program based on her leadership in the choir.” – Sarah Charge, NSW