The History of Oriana
The Early Years
What is today known as the Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir had its beginnings in 2005 when Daniel Calder established The Oriana Concert Choir, based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The Choir presented its inaugural performance in April 2006, to a capacity audience, with a concert programme encompassing both classical and modern repertoire. In July of the same year, Oriana competed in ABC Classic FM’s ‘National Choir of the Year’ competition. They were thrilled to place second in the Queensland finals. That first year was rounded out with a concert series presentation of Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols.
The next year, 2007, saw Oriana presenting Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, followed by a theatre restaurant setting for a costume-laden Sixties Music Revue. The year was rounded out with a lavish concert presentation of Schubert’s Mass in G and Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Following the huge success of the Sixties Revue, Oriana presented music of the Seventies in 2008. In the same year, they received critical acclaim for their performance of Handel’s Messiah. A double CD of this excellent performance was released in August 2009, details of which are available on the CD Recordings page.
From Strength to Strength
In the years since those early triumphs, Oriana has gone from strength to strength, demonstrating versatility, flexibility and a very disciplined approach to everything they take on. The Choir has been five times overall Champion Choir at the Heritage Queensland Eisteddfod. Oriana has delivered outstanding performances across many genres – sacred, opera, jazz, Broadway and film music, popular song, art song, folk music and world music. The choir has performed extended and major choral works, including Mozart’s Requiem and Grand Mass in C Minor, Faure’s Requiem, Haydn’s Te Deum and J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, as well as three more sell-out seasons of Messiah, one of which was a collaborative effort with Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir and the most recent in association with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and The Australian Voices.
On to the World Stage
The year 2012 was a watershed one for Oriana. It was the year of the Choir’s first international tour, during which they performed in such prestigious venues as St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Westminster Palace, as well as major churches in Belgium and Paris. The Choir received standing ovations on more than one occasion. A highlight of that tour, and a source of immense pride and gratification for the Choir, was achieving Second Place at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales.
Such was the enjoyment, pleasure and sense of achievement that came out of this first international touring experience, that a second tour, this time to Central Europe, took place in September and October of 2016. This tour was also highly successful, with the choir performing to great acclaim in beautiful, historic venues throughout Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Oriana's first poster featuring 2005 debut concert
The Baton Changes
At the end of 2015, having led the choir through ten years of remarkable musical experiences, Daniel Calder resigned from the position of Music Director. The conductor’s baton passed to Sandra Milliken, who had previously directed the Blackstone-Ipswich Cambrian Choir. Her professionalism, experience and dedication ensured a seamless transition of musical leadership. This enabled the choir to realise its dream to tour Central Europe in 2016 - to much acclaim.
A New Model
In 2017 the Oriana Management Team put in place a new approach to the musical direction for each choral season. In essence, Oriana now has an Artistic Director who, in consultation with the Management Committee, appoints a Music Director for each choral season. The new model opens up an exciting new chapter in the Oriana story.
As Oriana looks back on what has been achieved and enjoyed in the years since its inception, it also looks forward to a bright future. Daniel Calder was an inspiring conductor with high expectations of commitment from choristers at all times. He developed Oriana into a highly acclaimed vocal ensemble. In the ensuing years Sandra Milliken ably guided the choir, introducing them to new music and new challenges, while maintaining Oriana's reputation for professional musicianship and presentation. The new Seasonal Music Director model is opening up new opportunities and possibilities for Oriana. The fact that Oriana can look forward with confidence and enthusiasm to the next stage in its journey is attributable, in great measure, to the invaluable and inestimable guidance, instruction and inspiration given to them by Daniel and Sandra.
With Fay Baker now at the helm as Oriana Artistic Director, and the Seasonal Music Director model in place, Oriana has been given great flexibility to take on choral works in a very wide variety of style and genres. Different musical directors, of course, bring a new approach for each successive season. Nevertheless, the commitment of Oriana's choristers to being the best they can possibly be, will ensure that Oriana will retain all the characteristics that make it such a unique musical ensemble. There seems to be no limit to what the Choir is capable of achieving.
Check out the slideshow below for an insight into the amazing breadth and depth of Oriana's performances over the past several years. Further details are available on the Past Performances page.
Messiah with QSO
16 December 2016