About The Hobart Orpheus Choir –
Our Links to the Past
1877 – Today
The Hobart Orpheus Choir has been rehearsing and performing regularly for the last 141 years. It is possibly Australia's oldest continuous choir.
In 1877 the Hobart Trinity Church in Warwick Street needed a new set of bell ropes and, as funds were not too plentiful, it was decided to form a small group of male singers selected from the church choir to perform in the 'Christy Minstrel' style to raise the money needed.
The first choir master was Mr W.C. Eltham who, with the accompanist Miss J. Lynch, gave the group a try-out performance at New Norfolk. It was received so well that they had no hesitation in performing again, this time in the church school rooms. It was a sell-out performance. The church got its bell ropes and the small group became the Hobart Orpheus Club. Mr. Eltham later married Miss Lynch and together they led the Orpheus Club for 30 years.
The club maintained regular rehearsals on Monday evenings (and still does rehearse on Monday’s at the Salvation Army Citadel in Elizabeth Street) with subsequent performances in and around Hobart and occasionally further afield. It has survived the heady times around the turn of the 20th century, several major economic depressions, two World Wars and in 2017 celebrated 140 years of making music.
The Choir continued to be an all male choir up until its centenary in 1977. Two years earlier a women's choir, under Margaret Raward had formed and sang at the men's concerts as The Orpheus Singers. The amalgamation which followed opened up a new repertoire for SATB works. Since then, the choir has been able to present countless major works as well as anthems, spirituals, madrigals, ballads, classical and light musical songs.
Over these 141 years, Hobart Orpheus Choir Inc. has encouraged promising young artists by providing a platform for their performances. The choir has also supported charitable efforts in the community.