Camberwell Chorale presents an Australian premiere

On Sunday 9 October, the Camberwell Chorale, accompanied by Camerata Orchestra, will perform the Australian premiere of British composer Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D at Hawthorn Arts Centre. The choir and orchestra will perform this profound work, as well as two overtures from Smyth’s opera, The Wreckers.

Until recently, Ethel Smyth was relatively unknown, but from what we know of her life in the second half of the 19th century, she was a force to be reckoned with. Smyth was a suffragette, composer and author. She fought against societal restrictions that meant women couldn’t have a profession, defying her father to study composition. She was a pioneer for women in the classical music world and was the first female composer to receive a damehood.

Smyth’s Mass in D was first performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 1893 and is a dramatic work that explores Ethel’s mixed feelings about converting to Catholicism. Through its beautiful light and shade, the work takes the listener on a journey from a great build up of tension to cathartic joy. The mass will also be performed at the Royal Albert Hall in August, just before the choir’s Australian premiere at the Hawthorn Arts Centre. 

The Wreckers opera was first performed in 1906 and was the third opera written by Smyth. The libretto, originally written in French, tells of villagers in Cornwall who would lure in sailing ships to plunder their cargo. The full opera was recently performed at Glyndebourne Festival Opera to open their 2022 season. 

Camberwell Chorale conductor Doug Heywood OAM started conducting the choir in 1974 and formed the Camerata Orchestra in 1975. Doug has conducted Channel Nine’s Carols by Candelight at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl since 1988. In recognition of his service to Music Education and Community Music, Doug received an Order of Australia Medal in 1995 and is a well-respected musician and conductor in the classical music industry.

“I’m so excited to bring Ethel Smyth’s incredible work to life with the choir and orchestra. We can’t wait to perform this as an Australian premiere and to give Ethel Smyth’s work the attention it deserves.”  Doug says. 

The upcoming concerts will be performed at 2:30pm and 6:30pm on Sunday 9 October with the Camberwell Chorale, the Camerata Orchestra and soloists Lee Abrahamsen, Kerrie Bolton, Michael Lapina and Manfred Pohlenz at the Hawthorn Arts Centre. Visit or phone 03 9278 4770 to book. 

Publicity contact details
Marita Lacota, Publicity Officer