ArtsNorth Primary Choral Concert

My little guy loves to sing.  Last year he auditioned for the school’s choir but during that process he was shown the door for making a silly noise and never had the chance to audition, let alone be in the choir.  He had to wait an entire year to audition again and this time he was on his very best behaviour, passed his audition and gained a hallowed place in the choir.

The Concert Hall

The Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

Once a week he has been attending choir rehearsals in his lunch hour and hasn’t minded giving up some running about time one little bit.  He loves to show me his folder of music and tells me all about the songs he is learning and even says, ‘And this one’s opera’.  I don’t actually think he’s being taught to sing in an operatic way but never mind.

Must stop to read the signs

Must stop to read the signs

Last night was Alfie’s ‘night of nights’ where all his rehearsals culminated in a performance at the Sydney Opera House.  He had been looking forward to the evening for so long and couldn’t believe he was actually going to be on stage at that very special venue.  As I walked him to school that morning for his day of rehearsals at the Opera House, I said, ‘No one else in the family has ever performed at the Opera House; you are the first one to be on that stage’.  And he said, ‘And I’m not even the best singer or actor in the family’.  Bless!

Half-man, half-beast sculpture

Half-man, half-beast sculpture – reading the sign!

After his day of rehearsals I met him on the steps of the Opera House at 3pm and then we had to kill time until his performance four hours later.  What to do!  Fortunately the Opera House is in an excellent position for killing time so Alfie and I went from the Opera House steps across to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

A climbing frame?

A climbing frame?

But first we had to read the signs.  Alfie and his big brother have always been obsessed with signs and I’ve never been able to go from Point A to Point B without stopping to read signs.  After the signage episode we were off to wander through the Gardens.  We looked at sculptures and structures that against their intended purpose, Alfie found very tactile and excellent for climbing.

Another climbing frame

That’s high enough

Once Alfie came down from the sculptures we had a look through the gates of Government House.  Government House was completed in 1845 and today it serves as the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales and is used for ceremonies, receptions. luncheons, dinners and meetings.  Years ago I remember seeing the late Princess Diana and her then husband, Prince Charles being driven through the gates as the property was used to accommodate them during their royal tour.

It's a wave

It’s a wave

I didn’t actually realise that you can tour Government House.  I’m going to take Alfie on a tour during the current school holidays and let you know all about it.

On top of the 'wave'

On top of the ‘wave’

We continued walking around the Gardens and ended up back at the Opera House and had dinner in one of the restaurants on the Lower Concourse of the Opera House.  During our dinner I asked Alfie how many songs he would be singing in the concert.  He said, ‘Ten’.

Closed gates to Government House

Closed gates to Government House

‘Ten songs?’ I said very surprised, ‘That’s a lot; you must have been working hard’.

‘Maybe five’, he said, looking like he was none too sure.  I had to take Alfie back to the steps of the Opera House at 6.15pm.  He met up with all his choir buddies and you could tell how excited all the children were.

Government House

Government House

Carl and Archie arrived and we headed towards our seats in the Concert Hall.  I actually had booked these seats the day they went on sale and that clearly wasn’t prompt enough because we ended up in the nose-bleed section just a couple of rows from the very, very back.  And the Concert Hall seats weren’t designed for anyone with height and long legs and so Carl complained about the cramped conditions – standard!  We were more fortunate than some of our friends who’d hesitated longer than us to book and ended up with standing tickets – punishing!

Government House

Government House

And you wouldn’t have wanted to be standing because looking at the program, you knew you were in for a long night.  There were 700 primary school-aged children on the stage from 50 schools.  I tried to look for Alfie but alas, despite hours of searching we couldn’t find him.

Waiting for the show to begin

Waiting for the show to begin

The concert opened with one of my favourite hymns, I Vow to Thee My Country.  It’s been a favourite of mine since the opening scenes of that wonderful movie based on a true story, Calendar Girls.

Quenching our thirst at Intermission

Quenching our thirst at Intermission

It wasn’t just a concert of choir performances; there were also marching bands, orchestras, speeches and a farewell to the woman who had coordinated the event for the past 21 years.  Archie enjoyed the orchestra playing Pirates of the Caribbean and Carl loved Nella Fantasia from that stirring movie, The Mission.

On the steps of the Opera House after the concert

On the steps of the Opera House after the concert

And as for that ‘opera number’ Alfie was telling me about, it was The Solider by Paul Jarman and his favourite of the not ‘ten’, not ‘five’ but six songs he sang.  When we collected him his choir teacher pulled me aside and said, ‘Alfie has an outstanding voice and is a really good singer; you really should let him audition for the regional choir’.  I’ll add that to my to-do list – must google ‘regional choir’ – no idea what it is.

The Concert Hall

The Concert Hall

It was a very long concert and when one act was moving off the stage and the next item was being set up, there were quite a few pauses and boring speeches.  However, Alfie, who normally has a very short attention span was full of concentration and really loved being on stage and was so proud to be performing in a venue that is one of the most well recognised in the world.  It’s fantastic that NSW Public Schools give children this very memorable opportunity.


  1. Sounds like Alfie did great!! Maybe you have yet another performer in your mix 🙂

  2. What an outstanding opportunity for Alfie. You should be incredibly proud.

  3. Sounds like Alfie has found his calling…specially seeing he was able to sit through those boring speeches in between!
    And Charlie – the Royal Botanic Gardens are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing y’alls walk through!
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  4. How exciting for Alfie! Do we have another singer in the family? Looks like a fabulous night and that’s my fave hymn too! We sang it at school all the time xx

  5. What an amazing opportunity! It sounds like Alfie found another passion. Congrats on a successful performance!

    As for signs…Mr. N is very much the same way, though Miss A is my climber. 🙂

  6. How special! The Sydney Opera House! I am in awe and just so thrilled Alfie had such a successful performance. It is lovely to follow him through his ups and downs and glory with him in the ups (and pull for hime when less than “up”). This was a lovely, lovely post, Charlie.

  7. Congratulations to Alfie on his dedication in giving up his lunches once a week to practice. And going to audition again after losing the chance the first time. You have amazingly talented children who can obviously succeed when they commit themselves to something whether it’s running or singing. Just having a good voice is not enough … it takes practice, practice, practice.

    Please pass along a heartfelt, “well-done, Alfie”.

  8. What an exciting evening for Alfie! T! This will provide a memory that lasts forever. How wonderful that big brother was there for Alfie’s debut! 🙂

  9. Pretty exciting big night out Alfie. So cool to see little people striving, achieving & fulfilling their dreams.

  10. Good for you Alfie! I’m glad it all went well and that this time your big brother was watching you on stage instead of the other way round 🙂 Good luck getting into the regional choir too xox

  11. What a fantastic opportunity for Alfie. I think I’d have been too scared to perform in such a venue – and still would be – but I imagine it will be a memorable evening for him for many years to come.

  12. What a fantastic post – so wonderful for Alfie to have such an opportunity to perform in a fabulous venue. I know from singing in a choir that it’s a great experience to sing in a venue that has good acoustics as everything, including your own voice, sounds extra good. Sounds as if he has quite a talent, and a love for music too. You must be so proud of him.

  13. How thrilling for Alfie to perform in such an amazing place. Congratulations to him and to his supportive family too!

  14. Of all the posts you write, I think I love the ones about Alfie the most. He’s so full of joy and wonder – what a beautiful little boy he is. And he loves to sing? What a surprise in your family.. 😉

  15. you must be so proud of him. what a thrill for you both to have him singing there.

  16. What an amazing opportunity! Alfie is such a star!
    Have a wonderful week ahead Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  17. Runs in the family, doesn’t it? You’re all so talented. It’s a good thing you didn’t have 10 kids or nobody else would get a look in on stage. 🙂 I can just imagine how excited he must have been to be on that stage. I’ve only been to the opera house 3 times ever and definitely I was sitting down in the audience. I see that Ned is still with you.

  18. Wow what an awesome experience, man your family has so much talent, I love hearing all about them. 🙂

  19. Ohhh I had no idea Alfie liked to sing too I thought it was only Archie 🙂 It must run in the family so happy that he got into the choir and I had no idea the Government House was so pretty!

  20. Great job Alfie! Your family is so busy with different events and activities (I was just telling you how busy you must be!) and everyone does very well too. My son likes to sing too, but he mostly enjoys singing during religious class. I should have looked for a choir but being busy I’ve been failing… By the way the government house is so pretty!

  21. Wow, what an incredible experience! And Alfie is such a talented fellow!!! So sweet and modest, too…you deserve to be proud 🙂

  22. What was I just saying about Alfie’s talents! THis is a wonderful addition to his well-rounded co-curricular education! How fantastic to have his recital in the Opera House. That must have been a real charge for him, and his parents. 🙂

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