These are the people who freely give their time, talent and expertise to teach, coach and nurture the young members to reach their full potential as singers and confident young people.
Valerie Broad, OAM
Choir Founder and Artistic Director
Valerie Broad (nee McCracken) is a recognised Teacher, Performer, Choir Conductor and Composer. Valerie achieved L.Mus.A (Singing) through Australian Music Examinations Board, A.Mus.A (Piano) through AMEB and ALCM (Piano) through London College of Music. Although partly retired Valerie still conducts private teaching in voice and pianoforte. Many of her students have gone on to eminent singing careers in Australia and overseas.
Valerie’s achievements are exceptional:
- Finalist in the ‘Sun’ Aria the year Dame Kiri te Kanawa won.
- Foundation member of Benola Singers and sang leading soprano roles in many Oratorios, Cantatas, etc.
- Foundation member of Bendigo Operatic Society (now Bendigo Theatre Company) and performed leading roles in many Operettas and Musical Comedies.
- With Valmai Harris co-composed several Cantatas and Musical plays which they directed and produced.
- Awarded OAM on Australia Day, 1990, for services to the disabled and the community.
- Awarded Citizen of the Century on December 31st, 2000 for services to the Bendigo Youth Choir.
- Awarded 2016 City of Greater Bendigo Citizen of the Year for services to the Bendigo Youth Choir and to the disabled.
Valerie formed the choir in 1984 with a vision of having a community youth choir which would be accepted in Bendigo and may one day perhaps perform overseas. The achievements have been far and above that vision. The choir has achieved International success and is well known and highly regarded throughout the choral world. In 2006 they won the Victorian State Final of the ABC Classic FM Choir of the Year (Youth Section). In 2012 they were awarded three Silver Medals – Silver in each category entered at the World Choir Games, Cincinnati USA. The choir has numerous other awards and accolades.
Gail Godber worked as a music educator in schools in Melbourne and Bendigo for over 20 years. She is a passionate advocate for the communication of positive choices through collaborative songwriting. Gail has written a number of school songs, involving students in the creative process. Gail co-wrote nine musical productions for students with Team Henderson.
In 2009 Gail received a National Award for Excellence in School Music Education. She conducted the Bendigo Youth Choir in America in 2012 to compete for the World Choir Games. Gail supports the work of choir founder and artistic director Valerie Broad as Assistant Conductor and has accompanied both the Performing and Reserve Choirs. Gail is an advocate for women who served their nation in times of war, writing the song, ‘Women of the War’, and passionately promotes their stories through social media avenues. Gail was the Children’s Chorus Leader for Opera Australia for their 2016 production of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. She has worked as a volunteer with the Bendigo Youth Choir for twelve years, and is anenthusiastic proponent of the positive effects of choral singing.
Accompanist and Conductor, Reserve Choir
Valmai Harris is a prolific Bendigo composer, whose gift for writing beautiful music has provided among the most memorable, long-lived songs in the repertoire of the Bendigo Youth Choir. Her song, ‘See a Baby’ has been a stand-out favourite since its composition, and has been performed locally and overseas to great acclaim. ‘The Letter’, the poignant story of her grandfather’s tragic war experience has been among the most loved songs performed by the choir; both singer and listener alike are deeply moved by this piece.
Valmai was the co-founder, along with Valerie Broad, of local theatrical group, ‘Kangfluca Music’, which has been a vehicle for their collaborative musical productions. Over the years, Valmai and Valerie have co-written a number of musicals which have been widely performed. Valmai has performed in various local theatrical productions. She is currently accompanist for the Bendigo chapter of Sing Australia. She has been associated with the Bendigo Youth Choir since 1990 as accompanist for both choirs and composer and conductor. Vamai and her husband Tom have lived in Bendigo for thirty years, and have three children and seven grandchildren.
Vocal Coach and Conductor, Reserve Choir
Michelle Blume began her association with the Bendigo Youth Choir as a member of the Reserve Choir when she was 12. She progressed through to the Performing Choir, where she became a stalwart of the alto section. She travelled to Canada, Prague and America with the choir balancing her love of volleyball with her commitment to the choir’s performances. In her last year as a choir member, she was 23 years of age, and acted as a mentor to younger members providing invaluable support to those with less performance experience.
Michelle is now the Grade 1/2 Teacher at Axedale Primary School and also manages the specialist areas of Music, ICT and Choir. In March 2014, Michelle performed a song about Egypt written by Valmai Harris at a concert at the Uniting Church of Kangaroo Flat participating in the World Day of Prayer. Michelle has additionally now formed the Axedale Primary School Choir which competes at the annual Bendigo Competitions and performs at various concerts throughout the year.
Michelle continues her association with the choir as a member of the music staff, training and conducting the Reserve Choir in collaboration with Valmai Harris.