It all began on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin at the grand performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in 1995. Brought to life as part of community arts organisation 'Music for Everyone' (originally Gaudeamus), the people who sang in that original concert simply didn’t want to stop having fun and Strange Weather Gospel Choir was born. The choir became independent in 2006 and continues to grow from strength to strength.
Strange Weather has been lucky to have a series of very talented Musical Directors and accompanists, as well as a wide and eclectic repertoire of songs and a variety of uniforms! The early period was characterised by quirky leopard print attire, funky Aretha Franklin gospel and lots of African music. We later moved into all black with various scarves and ties (as a nod to traditional US gospel robes) and sang more soulful ballads with a touch of jazz. In 2008 in our formal striped shirts we branched out into some pop music and even Broadway hits. After some experimentation, we grooved into the old favourites for our major 2009 ‘Coming of Age’ concert in the classic (and classy) Strange Weather colours of black and purple.
Throughout all these changes, Strange Weather has remained a shared passion for the beauty of African-American gospel music. Some of the old gospel and African songs resonate with such a sense of past and present, joy and sorrow, hope and despair, that it is hard not to be moved. Bound up in the lyrics are tales of slavery, escape, spiritual longing and soulfulness, all of which creates a deep sense of history and humanity. We hope we can share some of that with you through our performances and through this website.
Strange Weather is an incorporated not-for-profit organisation, the Constitution can be viewed here.
Strange Weather Past Directors
1995 Andrena Gorman
The choir was formed in March 1995 under the musical direction of Andrena Gorman. Andrena was the artistic director of Gaudeamus , which later became Music for Everyone,
and now is Music for Canberra
. Many of the original members had participated in the 400 voice choir in a massive outdoor performance of Carmina Burana in March 1995. Andrena left Canberra for Melbourne in late 1995.
1996 Tanya Smith
Tanya was musical director in 1996, but took maternity leave late 1996. In her absence, Andrew Bissett was acting MD. Tanya returned from leave, but when she found the load too heavy and Andrew took over as Musical Director.
1997-1999 Andrew Bissett
Andrew was a well-known Canberra Jazz identity, the author of Black Roots White Flowers. A History of Jazz in Australia
, ABC Enterprises, 1987. He resigned as MD because of workload and health issues. Andrew passed away in 2005.
2000-2001 Tracy Lundberg
When Tracy left, the choir went into suspension for a while, from end of May 2001, to July 25 2001. Mathew Irving was accompanist and went on to be head of music at Radford. At the 2004 SWGC concert Radford College Senior Jazz band performed.
Late 2001 to Mid-2009 Ken Teoh
When Ken took over the choir at the end of 2001, there were only 12 members! At the end of 2005 the choir split with Music for Everyone and became SWGC Inc., with Ken as MD at the beginning of 2006. Susan Reid was Deputy MD and Accompanist 2002-mid2007. She regularly liased with Section leaders, arranged a number of songs and coached us in African pronunciation. Nigel Leach became accompanist in 2007 and helped us in particular with rhythm in the fiendishly difficult Hamba Lulu.
Anna Johnstone was a relief accompanist from time to time.
Mid 2009 -2010 Sonia Anfiloff
Sonia took over as acting MD mid-2009, and the choir advertised for a new MD for 2010. Wayne Joiner and Sonia were appointed as joint MD’s. Wayne was unable to get other work in Canberra and returned to Melbourne. Sonia moved to Vienna at October 2010. Joshua McHugh and Daniel Brinsmead were accompanying us at the time. Daniel was appointed MD for 2011.
February March 2011 Eric Dozier
Guest conductor for intensive workshop and rehearsals culminating in concert Songs of Praise, Protest & Purpose
, March 26 2011.
2011-September 2014 Daniel Brinsmead
Daniel led wonderfully and has gone on to study a Masters of Choral Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. During Daniel’s time, pianist Andrew Rumsey accompanied as well as James Huntingford, who was acting MD when Daniel was away. In 2013 Kimberley Steele began relief accompanying with the choir and became official accompanist in January 2014. When Daniel departed Kimberley stepped into the temporary MD position, bringing with her accompanist Lucus Allerton, before being officially appointed MD in December 2014. Nicole Nunan was also relief conductor for us and continues to do this from time to time.
September 2014- Kimberley Steele
Kimberley and Lucus are an amazing team and we look forward to continuing our work with them!