Having returned home to Canberra and recovered (somewhat) from the weekend’s excitement, I wanted to express my huge relief and gratitude for the efforts of all who participated in Saturday night’s dinner at Club York and especially in the Friendship in Song festival in the Sydney Town Hall on Sunday.

I have been humbled by the volume of communications, both personally delivered and by all electronic modes, expressing congratulations and pleasure for a superb massed male choral concert (153 choristers on stage by my count) and for the contributions of our guest artists and the Willoughby Brass Band.

My colleagues on the MCAA Committee and the Sydney Organising Committee have done a magnificent job in coordinating arrangements and contending with changing government and health regulations over a nearly three-year period since Covid-19 effects impacted so much of all our lives.

Before the end of 2022, the MCAA Committee will conclude all financial and statistical obligations associated with the festival. Whilst disappointing, the 2022 festival, almost certainly, will have operated at a financial loss. This will be reported in the usual manner including, of course, as part of the forthcoming AGM of the MCAA to be held in March 2023. However, the overall financial position of the MCAA is expected to remain highly viable.

The MCAA Committee consistently resolved, subject to regulatory controls, to stage a festival after the initial festival due in October 2020 had to be cancelled or deferred three times. Your committee believed that if a festival could not be staged in 2022, the viability of the Association would be seriously threatened given that five years would have elapsed since the previous festival in Wollongong in 2017. Your committee worked towards an October 2022 festival with eyes wide open regarding the probability of a financial loss when promoting a choral festival indoors in a trying and uncertain social environment.

Paul Jarman contacted me to express delight at being involved in such a wonderful performance where choristers cooperated brilliantly under his direction. Elina Yasumoto, Robert Fox and Anita Kyle offered similar accolades amidst appreciation for their invitations to participate with us. And weren’t we treated to a brilliant exhibition of brass band musical expertise from the Willoughby Brass Band?!!

Numerous choristers from Sydney acted as marshals and clerks. Partners staffed tables on Sunday to greet guests and audience members. Dr Paul Whiting (Musical Director, Ku-ring-gai MC) assumed responsibility for the integrity of the musical outcome. He coordinated actions between Paul Jarman, guest artists and the Band. He also monitored the sound and lighting technicians at the Town Hall on concert day that contributed to the professional performance. The bulk of administrative duties and responsibilities fell to Peter O’Driscoll, Sid Ford (both Cantorions), Tom Coghlan (Sydney MC) and Bruce Sharpham (Ku-ring-gai MC) who formed the nucleus of the Sydney Organising Committee ably assisted by Ron Brown, Gary Withyman (both Sydney MC), Ian Macarthur (Cantorions) and Ivan Blake (Ku-ring-gai MC). But overarching most things was the deft hand of MCAA Secretary, Brian Buckley (Wagga City Rugby MC). A huge vote of thanks and recognition is due to them all.

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the musical directors and accompanists, as well as all of the choristers who took part in the concert. Your work over the last five years made Sydney 2022 the best choral festival to date.

Plans and meetings are already projected for the next MCAA Festival in 2025, host city and venue still to be confirmed. However, notwithstanding a likely financial loss in 2022, the success of the musical festival should present a confident foundation to launch the 2025 venture.

No rest musically – I’m back at practice in Canberra today. You should all feel proud of your efforts in Sydney last weekend. Well done!


Neil Fleming


Male Choirs Association of Australia

3rd November 2022