Free centenary year concert

Join the acclaimed Sydney Philharmonia Choirs for a FREE early-morning open-air acapella concert in one of Australia’s most beautiful and iconic locations to celebrate the official launch of their 2020 centenary year.

As the first rays of light break over Sydney on Sunday 19 January, hundreds of singers gathered on the steps of Sydney Opera House will sing the city into 2020 with an hour-long program bursting with light, possibility and hope.

For this time-honoured arts organisation, one of the longest standing in the country, the Dawn Chorus marks not only the beginning of a new year, but a new era, commencing with their first official collaboration with presenting partner Sydney Opera House since being named a Resident Company in August 2019.

Representative of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ fresh, future-focused vision, the concert will include the world premiere of two new compositions, commissioned as part of their Centenary celebrations:

Composer Luke Byrne
  • From the stillness, Sydney composer Luke Byrne’s, Awakening begins with one voice, slowly building and evolving to 120 voices in harmony, as the horizon tinges pink and the sun rises over the Sydney Heads; and
  • A choral Acknowledgement to Gadigal Country, created by acclaimed Yorta Yorta composer and soprano, Deborah Cheetham AO. This work is especially significant as the first in a series created for the Choirs by Indigenous Australian composers, marking the beginning of an exciting cultural conversation for one of Australia’s longest-standing arts organisations with the First Peoples of Australia.

Throughout the coming year, thirteen newly created works will make their debut as part of the Choirs’ concert season, as part of a major centenary initiative which seeks to shine the light on Australia’s creative contribution to the world of song.

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Artistic Director Brett Weymark says,

“I believe that there is a tremendous power in people coming together and singing with one voice. With themes of a new beginning and a sense of hope, I believe Dawn Chorus will inspire people to dream about what we can achieve together as a society. Let’s start the year on a high note, the sounds of concord and a sense of optimism.”

Composer Deborah Cheetham photo by Wayne Quilliam

Deborah Cheetham AO adds,

Tubowgule (Bennelong Point) has been a place of deep cultural connection for the Gadigal people for more than 2000 generations. My connection to this place began with my first visit to the Sydney Opera House when this architectural icon was no more than 5 years old. The impression it made on that occasion remains with me still. I have only to conjure this place in my thoughts and a physical sensation arises. While there is no doubting the genius of Jørn Utzon and we remain grateful for this temple to the arts, I have realised over time that the sensation of connection each time I visited the Sydney Opera House was coming from a much deeper place than the building itself. The Gadigal have sung, danced and painted their knowledge on the place we know as Bennelong Point and every time I stand upon this land, it is their strength I feel. How wonderful is it that in 1973, Sydney, and the world, received such an elegant and powerful reminder that culture and knowledge resides here on Gadigal land as it always has.” 

Sydney Opera House Director of Programming, Fiona Winning says,

“We’re thrilled to mark the Opera House’s first official collaboration with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs as a newly appointed Resident Company with this special event celebrating their centenary year. In particular, the choral Acknowledgement of Country will be a stunning tribute to the local Gadigal people who have been meeting at Tubowgule, the land on which the Opera House stands, for tens of thousands of years for ritual celebration, song and storytelling.”

Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl just pondering heading to bed, join Sydney Philharmonia Choirs as they sing in a new day, a new season and a new era, at this unmissable one-off live event.

Dawn Chorus, Sunday January 19, arrive by 5.30am, at the Sydney Opera House Monumental Steps.

Presented in partnership with the Sydney Opera House, this free performance is open to Sydneysiders and visitors, all welcome. Register online to receive the latest information and updates at by clicking here, or just turn up on the day.

Established in 1920 to celebrate and share the joy of singing, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs is celebrating 100 years of music-making in 2020.

Connect with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs at –

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

Peter J Snee

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