Sydney Philharmonia Choirs joins the Benojo community


Sydney Philharmonia Choirs is Australia’s largest and most accomplished choral choir, inspiring and delighting audiences with the joy of singing. They recently joined the Benojo community and are among the first arts organisations to do so. We spoke with Shauna Wolifson, development manager at the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, to learn more about their work.

World-class choirs

“Founded in 1920, we have a long history of singing and performing exquisite music accompanied by the world’s best conductors, soloists and orchestras,” says Wolifson on the history of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

“We present world-class concerts to audiences of more than 12,000 each year at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, as well as performing at major cultural events including the Sydney Festival, and at significance occasions such as State events (Gough Whitlam funeral) and ANZAC commemorations.  We are also recognised as the choir of choice to perform with other prestige arts organisations such as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which we perform alongside at over twenty concerts each year.”

Singers with heart

Consisting of four choirs made up entirely of singers who volunteer their time and talent, the Choirs perform a variety of repertoire ranging from early to the more contemporary works.

The four choirs are:

  • The Symphony Chorus, which consists of 120 singers. As well as performing at Sydney Philharmonia Choirs concerts, they are the choir of choice to perform with the Sydney Symphony Choirs.
  • The Chamber Singers, of which there are 32 singers. These singers audition annually to be a part of the choir and are engaged for commercial performances and corporate functions.
  • Vox, which is a choir specifically for singers aged 18 – 30 years, who perform programs of classical, popular and contemporary works.
  • The Festival Chorus is the largest of the choirs with 400 members and come together twice a year (on the June long weekend and at Christmas) to perform works from a diverse musical range.

“Many people are unaware that ticket prices alone only cover a very small part of the costs of running an arts organisation such as ours,” explains Wolifson, whose role as development manager is to increase income from donations from private individuals, corporate sponsorship, fundraising events and grants from trusts and foundations.

“With only six per cent of our annual revenue coming from government funding, we are increasingly reliant on income from other sources in order to deliver and maintain the high standard of our work.”


Seeking new opportunities

Wolifson hopes Benojo will be a way of reaching new audiences to support the Choirs. She notes that financial support is what they need most as an arts company.  Donations go towards commissioning new works, touring regional New South Wales and education, specifically supporting their 1500 choristers with additional vocal, language and musical coaching and expanding their hugely successful education program in western Sydney.

“The more people who experience our beautiful music – either as an audience member or as a singer – the more supporters we attract.  We hope to get more people wanting to join our choirs as singers, we hope that more people will come to our concerts and experience the extraordinary work firsthand, and we hope that more people will realise that Sydney Philharmonia Choirs is an arts organisation worth protecting and therefore supporting financially.”

She adds: “Singing is an extraordinarily uplifting experience and imagine singing on the Opera House stage with 700-1000 others! It is one of the most powerful, exhilarating and moving experiences of a lifetime and anyone reading this can do it! So go to our website and join up!”

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