The Tasmanian winter is synonymous with brisk elements such as Antarctic winds, and short yet chilly daytimes; however, while many would have predicted winter as a time to escape the state, the chilly season in fact now brings many unique festivals to Tasmania, with more people flocking to Tasmania than possibly imagined merely a decade ago.
On 16 July 2017, more than 800 people gathered at the Federation Concert Hall to enjoy a remarkable finale concert for Festival of Voices. Master Wang of the Tasmanian Chinese Buddhist Academy of Australia was invited as an honoured guest to attend this vocal showcase, along with aldermans from City of Hobart and board members of the Festival. During the welcome speech by Mr. Damon Wise, Chair of the Festival and General Manager of News Corp Australia (TAS), he made sincere and special mentions about the support that Master Wang and the Academy had given to the festival. The finale concert features over 400 choral, gospel and a cappella artists and participants of the 2017 festival, with the choristers and vocalists representing a diverse background—ethnically and geographically. From Tasmanian singers to those who have come from around the country, the concert also included special guest choirs who are two prominent overseas children’s choirs — the Hangzhou Aiyue Tianshi Choir (Hangzhou Philharmonic Angel Choir), and the world’s largest children choir, the Hong Kong Children’s Choir. Under the conductorship of Mr. Weiping Zhou, the Hangzhou Aiyue Tianshi Choir started the International Guest Choir section of the concert. Following this, the international choir program comprising of Hangzhou Aiyue Tianshi Choir and Hong Kong Children’s Choir jointed performed some western tunes under renowned choral conductor Mr. Chris Burcin, much to the delight of the audience. To complete the international choir section, under the guidance of musical director and principal conductor, Ms. Kathy Fok, and conductor Ms. Vivian Suen, the Hong Kong Children’s Choir performed two songs from their touring repertoire, which was received with a standing ovation from the packed audience. Apart from the international youth choirs, the audience were treated to many other highlight acts by young, middle-aged and elder performers, including youth and gospel choirs, a cappella groups and trios, many which were directed by internationally renowned musical directors who excelled in their respective genres. To wrap up the 2017 Festival of Voices, the combined choirs sang Hallelujah—the song which opened the Festival at the Big Sing and Bonfire half a month ago. Swapping the outdoor bonfire setting today for the indoor grand Federation Concert Hall, the voices of the choir and audience echoed harmonically, bringing the concert to a thrilling and reverberating climax, and many reluctant to part!