Saturday, November 1, 2008

And now for something completely different...Australian Intervarsity Choral Festivals

I've mentioned to a few people here and there that I attend Australian Intervarsity Choral Festivals.

A few people have asked about these - what they are about, who goes, how often they happen. So I thought I'd do a post to tell you a bit more about this fabulous tradition, and explain why I've been dedicating two weeks of my precious leave each year to attending IVs.

Australian Intervarsity Choral Festivals (IVs) happen roughly once a year, and each year they cycle between seven different cities. So if you live in, say, Adelaide, a festival will come to your city every seven years.

University choirs from all over Australia get together to attend these festivals - at last count there were members from something like a dozen different University Choirs attending the festivals on a regular basis.

Some participants have been attending for years - I'm now in my third 'cycle', having attended more than two series of seven festivals. Of course, I started attending IVs when I was 3 years old, and am only 19 now ;-)

I started attending as a member of FUCS (1993), then AUCS (1994), then MUCS/MonUCS (1995-2002) (such crossover types are commonly referred to as MonMUCs), and finally as a ROC (2003-), as my ridiculous pile of degrees and various other factors shuffled me across Australia. This isn't unusual - one participant is reputedly a member of all IV choirs!

IV choirs share common traditions besides festival attendance - many 'pub songs' (mostly motets with a few oddities thrown in), traditions (including toasts for formal occasions) and other social curiosities help identify an IV choir. Many IV participants attend rehearsals at a fellow IV choir when in another Australian city - it is not uncommon for a FUCSter from Adelaide to attend MUCS rehearsals when in Melbourne and vice-versa. Many long-term relationships and friendships also cross state borders.

Getting back to the festivals: The festivals last for two weeks, usually from a Friday night through to a Sunday afternoon, and the standard pattern is to have two major concerts, with a variety of social events in-between. Some of these include a formal dinner, publicity singing around town, the Presidents Pyjamas (like a very messy and silly "It's A Knockout"), beer sculling, and a revue night.

The number of participants in recent times varies from as few as 88 (Brisbane IV 1993) to as many as 250+ (recent Melbourne and Sydney festivals). Many choristers are self-confessed IV-addicts, and claim they will attend "until I have to hobble up on stage with a zimmer frame."

The next festival scheduled is Hobart 2009 in July next year, and it will be the 60th festival - quite an achievement for a movement of this kind.

IVs welcome interstate and overseas choristers, and any Kiwi choristers who are interested in attending would be very welcome, and would absolutely have a wonderful time.

I'll leave you with an embedded mini movie (unofficial) of Brisbane Intervarsity Festival 2007. You won't see much of me, as I was the chick behind the camera most of the time, but if you're quick (very quick!) you'll see me down a beer in the Womens' 4x sculling (we won, of course), getting down on the dance floor with a very young Dawnie (my now 21 month old daughter), and in a few photos at the end.

I'll also add a link to a homemade Adelaide IV 2006 movie, so you can see more of the sort of silliness we get up to.

WARNING: Parts of these movies may offend the faint of heart ;-)


And Adelaide IV 2006


Leta said...

Hi Leanne,

I enjoyed your movie! Definitely not for the faint of heart - I think my heart might be too faint. Beer sculls are certainly not for me; I must be of the wrong generation and my digestive system cannot handle more than half a glass of beer sipped slowly, per day!

But, alltogether it seems a great experience, with heaps of team bonding, yeah!

Thanks for sharing these experiences with us.

daharja said...

Hi Leta,

Hehehe ;-)

I've officially retired from individual sculling now, and these days only compete in the team events. There's a story attached to that - ask me sometime if you want to hear a bit of fun.

You've hit the nail on the head about bonding. It is through the IV movement that I have met some of the most amazing and special people in my life, friends who I may not see often but who continue to have a positive and powerful impact on my life.

I think I've been very fortunate to meet so many great people through IV. I'm proud to be a part of the IV movement, and would sincerely encourage anyone who loves and values music and friendship to come along to Hobart in July next year.

Two solid weeks of singing from dawn to dusk with wonderful people is my idea of heaven! If it sounds good to anyone reading this, come along! Thousands of choristers over the last 60 years can't all be wrong!



AlanGirvan said...

If you do not want to scull beer, there is also a creme de menthe round, or a ginger beer round, or a disgusting green cordial round

daharja said...

Hi Alan - ...and we won't mention the chunky custard sculling round...

Oh wait! I just did ;-)


I've never looked at custard the same way since!