News Release

Ballarat Interfaith Choral Festival Unites Community

Ballarat Choral Festival
Ballarat Choral Festival
Finale at Ballarat Interfaith Choral Festival, 30 July 2023© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Like a trumpet announcing, ‘ta-dah’, the Ballarat Interfaith Choral Festival has been a way for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to come out of obscurity in this Melbourne Victoria community,” says Margaret Ellis.

Margaret has carried the baton of this event for 20 of the 25 years the festival has been running. This 25th anniversary, delayed since 2019 because of Covid, is up and running again.

“We’re at a point where the Church is coming to be known by its true name, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’. The Catholic Church has welcomed us. Our hope is that people walk away feeling the Spirit and realising that we are a worldwide church,” she says.

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Twelve different community and faith-based choirs gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat on Sunday, 28 July to sing songs of faith and joy. These groups meet for the joy of singing and to rejoice in each other’s company.

From a children’s choir singing “Wadawurrung Thank You to Country” to classical, to island and folk music, to spiritual songs, unity was felt as around 700 listeners shared common feelings of the heart.

In his opening remarks, Dean Berger, Latter-day Saint leader of the Deer Park area said, “In our faith, we believe that songs from the heart are heard from above.”

Seven-year-old Allegra, a member of the Ballarat Voices children’s choir, said, “Singing makes me feel amazing! I love being in the church and seeing the pictures in the (stained-glass) windows.”

Her singing friend, seven-year-old Lachie, agreed. “Music makes me feel happy and calm.”

Piano, organ, ukelele, guitar, Irish drum, and even voices imitating sounds of the forest, added instrumental variety to the programme.

Director of the Ballarat Ward Choir, Alison Stevenson, noted, “Music finds a common denominator for people of all faiths. Any spiritual feeling can only make a positive difference in the community.”

She continued, “The angels sang regarding the Lord’s coming. I think music is synonymous with God”.

Gospel messages were shared with words such as, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him;” “We’ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak;” and “As children of God, we must do as the Lord commands.”

A bit of audience fun was had when Victoria Welsh Choir director, Rushan Hewawasam, asked the audience to sing “Waltzing Matilda” while the men of the Welsh choir simultaneously sang “The Welsh National Anthem.”

Appreciative attendee, Karen Jones, said of the festival, “I thought it was an outstanding event, so enjoyable to hear such accomplished singing from diverse choirs and to see the enthusiasm of the performers and the capacity audience.”

Father Ed Moloney, of the host church said, “The choir festival is a sign of unity. Music takes us to a space words cannot.”

The concert concluded with a Massed Choirs Finale, singing “Hearts Around the World.”

Dean Berger summed it up by saying, “This has been a wonderful opportunity for the Church to reach out to the community and show how faith can be reflected through music and song. It’s a great way to bring everyone together in a common purpose that brings joy to all.”

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.