A person with long hair sitting at a table in a big room with lots of papers in front of them.

Join Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney as she presents a participatory musical lecture on her 2020 National Library Fellowship research about community singing in interwar Australia.

Community singing was a vibrant and widely popular phenomenon in interwar Australia. In the period from 1918 to 1939, the community contended with the aftermath of WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and the global instability leading to WWII. Community singing was a simple but effective way to bring people together, often with the explicit aim of helping people to cope and carry on.

Distinct from choral singing or participatory performances such as music hall, ‘community singing’ had its own repertoire, methods and proponents, as described by Australian composer Jack Lumsdaine in his comical song from 1930, Since Ma’s Gone Mad on Community Singing. Every week, radio stations across the country broadcast community singing events that filled town halls in towns small and large. Community singing was also a mainstay of university campuses, clubs and societies, and political and religious groups.

Come along and learn about this under-appreciated and lively aspect of our Australian musical heritage, brought to life by the Library's extensive music and ephemera collections, with piano accompaniment by Dr Susan West. Attendees are welcome to dress up in their finest 1920s and 1930s outfits, in the spirit of interwar community singing!   

Entry is free to this event but bookings are essential. 

For those unable to make it to Canberra for the talk, it will be available to view online via the Library's Facebook and YouTube pages. You do not need to book a ticket to watch the event online.

Dr Pike-Rowney is a 2020 National Library of Australia Fellow, supported in memory of Averill Edwards.

Image: Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney in the National Library's Special Collections Reading Room

About Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney

Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney is a transdisciplinary researcher and practitioner, whose work encompasses music, community outreach, classical studies, health and wellbeing, and history. She splits her time as the Friends Lecturer and Curator of the Classics Museum at the Australian National University, and co-Director of the Music Engagement Program.