In 2004, a young chorister stood in uniform on stage and received a badge in front of family, friends, and the entire ABCI community. It would be some time before he fully realised the distinction conferred when the badge was pinned to his lapel.
‘Of course, I later came to feel honoured,’ said Tim Matthews Staindl of the ceremony that installed him as the fourth of only five Head Choristers in ABCI’s now 83-year history. It was an important moment for Tim and the Choir; the rank of Head Chorister recognises members who have shown exemplary leadership and is rarely conferred.
‘As a young boy going through the ranks of the Choir, I greatly looked up to the leaders in the performing choir and marvelled at their musical ability. I hope that, in turn, I provided a good example for the younger boys during my time,’ says Tim.
Tim recalls several highlights during his time with the ABCI. He started as a Probationer in 1999 and became a Senior Singer just two years later. This swift progression meant he was involved in a decade of touring, including trips to Malaysia, Indonesia, and the United States, along with several national tours. He says he loved the sense of adventure that came with touring with his Choir friends.
‘The tours also meant a very intense period of rehearsing and performing, which resulted in a polished musical set,’ he said, adding that the Choir’s homecoming concert after the 2002 AmericaFest tour was a particularly memorable performance with which he was involved.
Tim went on to study music at the University of Melbourne and, while doing so, returned to tutor at the ABCI .
‘When I was tutoring the Junior Singers, I told some of the boys that their sight singing was better than many of my peers at Melbourne’s Conservatorium of Music. I don’t think they believed me, but it was absolutely true.’
Tim says the ABCI’s high standard of musical education is what sets it apart from other Australian children’s choirs. ‘During my decade [with the Choir], I received a phenomenal musical education that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time.’
Soon after finishing his music degree, Tim realised that his passion for singing in close harmony ensembles would make it difficult to earn a living as a musician. He returned to university to study law and, after several years as a practicing lawyer, will become a barrister later this year.
‘The beauty of music theory and musicianship is that it provides a wealth of transferable knowledge and skills,’ says Tim. ‘My understanding of language, mathematics, art, and law has been greatly shaped by my love for music, which began at the ABCI.’
Despite his busy legal career, Tim is still very much involved in music. He has sung with numerous choirs, and he formed Thursday’s Child, an a cappella group that has just had its debut performance in May this year. He also still plays piano and is known to whip out the New Real Book of Jazz Standards to play and sing at home.
‘I love going to concerts, and particularly seeing old uni or music friends making their way on stage,’ he says, adding that he has no ‘pearls of wisdom’ for current Choir members – beyond this insight: ‘Singing is a wonderful thing, and what’s better than singing with your talented friends? Enjoy!’
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