AGC Alumni Stories – Michelle Chow
AGC Alumni Michelle Chow pens this week’s Latest News, as she shares with us her experience growing up in the choir and the ongoing connection she shares with the organisation.
Growing up in the Australian Girls Choir
I joined the AGC in October 1986. At the time my mother thought “We’ll do this until the end of the year, I can’t imagine driving back and forth to Burwood every Thursday.” Little did we know, the AGC would not only take me to Burwood every week, but all over Melbourne and parts of Australia. The choir became an ongoing part of my life.
My time at AGC was extremely fulfilling. I enjoyed wonderful performance opportunities such as singing for Audrey Hepburn and being part of the very first AGC performance at Carols by Candlelight. I still remember the thrill of being on stage and seeing the flood of candles bobbing in darkness. (Even now, years later, it never feels quite like Christmas time until I have sung some carols.) Some of my happiest memories are from the Annual Concerts and Christmas gigs. I fondly remember the performances and the company and camaraderie with other choristers while backstage. In my final year (1994) I was awarded a scholarship for General Excellence and was honoured to be Music School Leader at the annual Performing Choir Music School.
Working as an AGC Tutor and Venue Manager while completing tertiary education
After school I completed a Science/Arts double degree at Monash University, followed by a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I had always been interested in science and loved learning about and communicating scientific concepts. I also worked in the AGC Head Office and at rehearsal venues as a venue manager and tutor. Between the choir and my studies, I was able to fulfil my diverse interests in music, science and Chinese language. I recall often leaving the laboratory in the late afternoon during my PhD to teach AGC classes, before returning in the evening to complete my laboratory experiments.
As a tutor, one of the things I enjoyed most was seeing choristers grow in their confidence and self-expression. As a relatively shy and reserved child I had gained a lot of confidence from participating in the AGC, and I loved nurturing similar personal growth in the girls who I taught.
As an AGC chorister and staff member, I not only developed many tangible skills that would become applicable in other workplaces, but also experienced a professional philosophy and work ethic that values a pursuit of excellence. The spirit of ASPA and the AGC ensures that everyone combines their best efforts towards a common end goal, while also supporting each individual’s personal development. This permeates right down to the youngest choristers and is a true strength of the organisation.
Giving back through Girls from Oz
I was sad to leave my position with the AGC when my husband and I moved overseas in 2006. When Girls from Oz started, my husband and I readily contributed as founding donors to help increase the accessibility of the performing arts and its benefits that I myself had enjoyed. We have continued to support Girls from Oz over the years through personal donations and by leading annual Giving Circles. In 2019, I spent some time volunteering with g-oz and developed some preliminary analyses of program outcomes. It was a great full circle turn for my professional life, as I applied data analytics skills that I had developed in my scientific career to g-oz. And, of course, it was personally very satisfying to re-engage with the ASPA community on a more regular basis.
It is a privilege to support g-oz’s efforts in bringing the same richness that was so valuable to myself, and so many others, to the lives of girls in some of Australia’s most remote communities. I recently viewed a video of the girls in Halls Creek performing a dance taught by g-oz via remote delivery (during the COVID19 pandemic restrictions). It was so utterly heart-warming to watch the joy and enthusiasm in the girls’ faces as they performed, knowing that they have gained so much confidence and engagement from participating in g-oz.
Donate to Girls from Oz through Michelle’s Giving Circle:
To donate to Michelle’s giving circle, make a donation through Give Now and write ‘Michelle Chow’s Giving Circle’ in the leave a message section.