Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) has partnered with Pacific Opera to give students the opportunity to perform spiritually enriching music in a unique and professional setting.

In July, students from SCS were invited to perform at the Australian premiere of internationally renowned composer Paul Carr’s ‘Requiem for an Angel’.

Taking place within the beautiful St Francis of Assisi’s Catholic Church in Paddington, the performance provided SCS students with the unique opportunity to learn and partner with industry professionals and enhance their artistic development journey.

The partnership marks the first time SCS and Pacific Opera have joined forces. It offered students an unrivalled experience of immersing themselves in contemporary choral music, a deeply felt expression of their faith in God.

Artistic Advisor to SCS, Matthew Barclay has championed the collaboration and explained how the partnership offers a high-quality artistic development experience to guide students.

“Pacific Opera is a small but long-established and respected organisation. Their artistic leaders bring a wealth of experience, presenting the perfect partnership to showcase the exceptional talent within our schools. 

“This is an opportunity for us to give our students real world experience and in turn, demonstrates what they have to offer to the industry. Students learn to extend their vocal techniques and sing in a challenging style that goes well beyond their typical repertoire.”

“We are committed to developing young talent and Sydney Catholic Schools arts programs act as a feeding ground for the next generation of exceptional singers and performers,” Mr Matthew Barclay said.

SCS students were invited to sit in on orchestral rehearsals, with a select number of exceptionally talented students joining the orchestra and choir. 

This culminated in two performances at St Francis of Assisi’s Catholic Church, attended by Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley, Governor of New South Wales, and overflowing with attendees from Sydney’s music sector and wider Catholic community. 

In addition, Stage Six students involved with the performance are set to receive a masterclass with Pacific Opera’s Music Director to further their knowledge and appreciation for classical music. 

Manager: Performing and Visual Arts, Danielle Fuller is extremely proud of what has been achieved through the collaborative partnership between SCS and the Pacific Opera team.

“The whole experience was wonderful from start to finish and a credit to all involved.

“The atmosphere in the Church was warm and full of praise for the performance, with our students expressing excitement that there will be opportunities in the future to work with the company,” Ms Fuller said. 

Requiem for an Angel holds a special place in the hearts of its creators, as it was composed by Paul Carr as a tribute to his late mother. 

The contemporary requiem offers a moving departure from traditional compositions, with eight movements that delve into deep themes of love, creation, and the human spirit.

“Paul Carr’s sacred music is lyrical and melodic yet characteristically classical, it is harmonically very beautiful and undeniably contemporary music of today.  It is easy on the ear and accessible to a diverse range of audiences,” Mr Barclay said. 

The impact of opera on students’ well-being is well-documented. According to studies, learning music can increase self-confidence, discipline, and teamwork skills. Listening to live classical music, such as Requiem for an Angel, has also been found to induce feelings of calm and relaxation. 

Further research demonstrates attendance at opera performances in Sydney has risen by 28% in the past eight years, with the collaboration between SCS and Pacific Opera arriving at a time of renewed interest in classical music. 

“Sydney Catholic Schools have every intention to continue our expansion with Pacific Opera and other music industry bodies.”

“Requiem for an Angel has presented a perfect starting point and we’re excited to continue to explore more opportunities that will benefit Sydney Catholic Schools’ students and our arts partners,” Mr Matthew Barclay said.