Choir's 'immaculate' exam results a world first
WHEN this group of singers hit their opening notes, the school classroom melts away and their voices carry onlookers to a different place.
You could imagine it's Paris, London, or New York rather than the music room at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School.
The talented Bella Voce choir are singing with a little extra pep after achieving an impeccable 100 per cent on a prestigious international examination.
It's the first year Girls Grammar has sat exams for St Cecilia's School of Music, with teacher Christina Bond explaining it was a chance for the students to be assessed by an internationally recognised board and give broader feedback than what is available through eisteddfods and local competitions.
The Bella Voce ensemble is audition-only, but open to all high school students.
Two other choirs, the Years 4 to 6 primary choir and the Molti Voce senior choir, were examined and achieved high distinctions with 95 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.
Girls who join the Bella Voce group also sing in the Molti Voce choir.
As part of the examination, the Bella Voce group had to prepare a 40-minute showcase of work.
Ms Bond said the group had been preparing for over a year for the "intense” event.
"The examiner did share the results straight after the exam,” she said.
"He told me and I may have teared up a little bit, I was so happy. I was just so incredibly proud of them.
"It was the culmination of a year's work, so many hours of rehearsal ... that it was amazing.”
The performance was even more extraordinary given the Molti Voce choir just hours later performed at the emotional memorial service for Olivia Harwood, a Girls Grammar student who died in a car crash during the school holidays.
"We're very proud of the Molti Voce choir that performed,” Ms Bond said.
"They were very strong to be able to sing through that as well.”
St Cecilia School of Music director Matthews Tyson travelled from Tasmania for the examination and said he left Rockhampton "on a high” after the stunning performances.
"I considered it to be an absolute privilege to hear these beautiful voices,” he said.
"As soon as they started to sing, I knew I was listening to something special.
"It was not just a school choir. It was not just a group of school kids thrown together.”
Mr Tyson explained it was unusual for an ensemble group to achieve a perfect score, and it was something which had not been done in the 45 years of St Cecilia examinations.
However, he was blown away by the Bella Voce choir.
"They were bordering on being a professional group,” Mr Tyson said.
"They got up and performed and entertained.
"They knew how to do it in such a way that we forgot it was an examination.
"That group was so beautiful and everything they did was immaculate.”
Mr Tyson said the mature, disciplined performances were due to the experience of teachers Ms Bond and Jessica Dawes.
Ms Bond has a long history with Girls Grammar choirs, performing in them as a student under the direction of legendary Rockhampton music teacher Nita Whyte.
She said her knowledge of music and choral performances was largely thanks to Mrs Whyte's teachings.