Canberra Choral Society

The Canberra Choral Society (CCS) is an auditioned symphonic choir based in Canberra, and has become one of the most innovative and exciting choirs in the nation’s capital. The choir is known both for traditional choral repertoire, and for surprising audiences with new music, new venues, and new ways to experience old favourites.

Members range in ages and abilities, and are passionate about working towards performances that capture the impact and energy of the music while maintaining the clarity and subtlety required for excellence in every performance.

CCS presents up to four concerts a year, including a capella and piano-accompanied concerts, through to major works of the symphonic choral repertoire using the choir’s ongoing engaged orchestra. The choir explores partnerships with community music groups, including the National Capital Orchestra, and has been engaged by the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, when their program calls for choral forces. CCS performs in venues around Canberra, including the city’s major concert auditorium Llewellyn Hall at the Australian National University.

A key focus for the choir is an annual 'Come and Sing' program, in which up to 120 unauditioned guest singers rehearse with the choir and perform a major work with professional soloists and orchestra. The choir has had a strong emphasis on concerts featuring Australian composers, has presented many highly-acclaimed productions of Handel’s dramatic oratorios, and has also given performance opportunities to other Canberra-based youth choirs within its own concerts. The choir contributes to community events, including the Canberra International Music Festival, events at Parliament House and the Anzac Day services at the Australian War Memorial.

Our History

Celebrating our 70th!

We celebrated our 70th anniversary in 2022, with three new works commissioned by the choir for this occasion. Featuring the world premiere of two exciting new works by Australian composers Ella Macens and Michael Dooley, and accompanied by a 12 piece ensemble.

These two works were performed at the celebratory concert Attune, on Saturday 17 September 2022 at the Canberra Girls Grammar School Hall. Attune by Ella Macens with lyrics by Sarah Rice, is an ode to the 'parts' of the choir from the ‘whole’ of the choir. Songs from the High Country by Michael Dooley is an evocative work celebrating the natural diversity of the Canberra region.

The third work was performed on Saturday 17 June at the Coming Home concert, and featured the world premiere of Dan Walker’s The Last Migration. This beautiful new work for choir and string ensemble is a setting of celebrated Australian poet A D Hope’s vivid and touching poem The Death of the Bird.

CCS 1952 - 2023

The Canberra Choral Society originated in 1952 with a small group of people who began singing together for their own pleasure and musical advancement.

This group became known as the Canberra Choral Group and was conducted in its foundation years by Ronald Penny, Peter Bailey and Jane Malone.

The name was changed to The Canberra Choral Society in 1960, and the Society became an officially incorporated association in April 1962.

Canberra Choral Society: A Capital Choir for a Capital City

The first 50 years of the Society have been documented by Peter Campbell in his book, Canberra Choral Society: A Capital Choir for a Capital City, (Canberra, PC Publishing 2002 ISBN 0958155305).

Two later supplements have since been produced, From Fifty to Sixty (2002-2012), and From Sixty to Seventy (2013 - 2022).

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Music Director

Since 2019 Dan Walker has been the Music Director of the Canberra Choral Society. He brings a strong musical background in composing, performing and conducting to the role.

Dan regularly performs with Cantillation, Pinchgut Opera, Luminescence Chamber Singers, Clarion quartet and is a guest member of The Song Company.

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Former Music Directors

See a list of all current and former CCS Music Directors here.

Music Lending Scheme

Since 1965 the Canberra Choral Society has been critical in developing a national Music Lending Scheme (MLS) which facilitates the provision of scores to over 100 member choirs across Australia with its main emphasis on vocal scores for choirs and musical theatre groups.