2017 Artistic Team

Festival Artistic Director - Jule Christianson OAM

Julie  Christiansen

Julie Christiansen is well known for her compelling work with children's and youth choirs both in Australia and overseas, with her ensembles recognised for their joyful vitality and quality of tone.

Following studies in choral conducting at Queensland Conservatorium, Julie began Voices of Birralee in 1995 and continues to work with young people at all levels of experience in both school and community ensembles. 

Julie is a popular guest clinician regarding vocal/choral techniques and literature for children's choirs. She is regularly invited to conduct and present at choral festivals and educational workshops throughout Australia, including with Gondwana Choirs National Choral School. 

Julie has toured extensively nationally and internationally with Brisbane Birralee Voices, with recent tours representing Australia in Korea, England, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, as well as tours to Tasmania, Canberra, North Queensland and Adelaide. A highlight of her careers has included fulfilling a five year commitment with the Department of Veterans' Affairs to sing at World War One centenary services in France and Belgium.

Julie’s commitment to her work is driven by the vital role music plays, as a channel for developing responsible and caring young people. In 2006 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours list. 

André J. Thomas

Andre  Thomas

Guest Conductor - Pemulwuy! Massed Choir

Dr André J. Thomas, the Owen F. Sellers Professor of Music, is the Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music Education at Florida State University. A previous faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin, Dr Thomas received his degrees from Friends University (B.A.), Northwestern University (M. M.), and the University of Illinois (D. M. A.). He is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honor/All-State Choirs throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
Dr Thomas has conducted choirs at the state, division, and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). His international conducting credits are extensive. They include conductor/clinician for the International Federation of Choral Musicians, summer residency of the World Youth Choir in the Republic of China and the Philippines, winter residency of the World Youth Choir in Europe, and a premier performance by an American choir (Florida State University Singers) in Vietnam. He has been the guest conductor of such distinguished orchestras and choirs as the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in England, guest Conductor for the Berlin Radio Choir and the North German Radio Choir in Germany, the Netherlands Radio Choir, The Bulgarian Choir and Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, Tallahassee Symphony, China’s People’s Liberation Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

Since 1988, he has also served as Artistic Director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger. Hinshaw Music Company, Mark Foster Music Company, Fitzsimmons Music Company, Lawson Gould, Earthsongs, Choristers Guild, and Heritage Music Company publish his compositions and arrangements.

Dr Thomas has produced two instructional videos, “What They See Is What You Get” on choral conducting, with Rodney Eichenberger, and “Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice” on adolescent voices, with Anton Armstrong. His recent book “Way Over in Beulah Lan’. Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual” has quickly become a major source in this area of study. The African Diaspora Sacred Music honoured Dr Thomas as a Living Legend. In 2011, Thomas’ dedication to and accomplishments in the choral arts were recognized by his peers in Choras America when that organization presented Dr Thomas with its Distinguished Service Award. He is a past president of the Florida ACDA, and the past president of the Southern Division of ACDA. 


Kate Albury

kate albury

Guest Conductor - Pemulwuy! Treble Boys Choir

Kate Albury has completed a Bachelor of Arts Music and a Bachelor of Music Education at the Qld Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University, as well as a Masters Degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Queensland.  For eight years she held the position of Head of Music at Trinity Lutheran College on the Gold Coast. Kate was a member of the Senior Music Panel and Chair of the Gold Coast Music Extension.  During this time she took choral groups on successful tours of Germany and Austria.

From 2003 to 2016 Kate held the positions of Choral Director and Middle School Music and Event Co-ordinator and at Brisbane Grammar School.  In 2010 she toured Europe with the Grammarphones, the School’s Premier Choir, achieving first place in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in Vienna.  Her duties as Choral Director included conducting all five choral groups of the school, and directing Middle School Musicals.  In addition, she conducting the Grammar Community Choir, consisting of over 130 adults.

As Kate’s reputation as a dynamic and gifted choral conductor grew, she was invited to conduct at many festivals and workshops.  She has conducted choirs for the renowned Birralee Choirs, the Celtic Connection Chorus and Choral Connection.  She has conducted the ‘Con Chorus’ at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.  Most significantly, she was invited to join the elite conductors from around Australia to be part of the Artistic Team of the National Gondwana Choral School in Sydney, conducting both the Juniors and Singers.  
Kate is in demand as an adjudicator and conductor.  Her greatest passion is to encourage young people to be involved in Choral Music.  In July 2016, she made the difficult decision to leave Brisbane Grammar School after 13 years of service.  She is most excited to be Head of Curriculum for the Creative and Performing Arts Department at St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe.


Jonathan Bligh


Guest Conductor - Pemulwuy! Youth Choir A

Founder and Director: Festival Statesmen
Jonathan is a Vocal Coach, Music Director and Secondary School Teacher of Music. Jonathan has a Bachelor of Music (Elder Conservatorium, Adelaide), Graduate Diploma of Education (University of Adelaide) and a Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (London). Jonathan has studied conducting in the USA at the Westminster Choir College and George Fox University. He has worked with over 40 different ensembles including singing as a core member of world renowned Adelaide Chamber Singers. Jonathan has worked as conductor of groups such as the Tutti Choir, the Adelaider Liedertafel, The Adelaide Harmony Choir, The Kapelle Singers, The Australian Girl’s Choir. Jonathan has also directed a number of musicals including Footloose, Les Miserables, Gypsy and Spring Awakening. Jonathan was Head of Vocal Studies at The Scot’s College (Sydney) and previously worked as a senior music teacher in the Selective Entry Performing Arts Program at Charles Campbell Secondary School (Adelaide).


Chris Burcin

Chris  Burcin

Guest Conductor - Pemulwuy! Youth Choir B

Chris is an active choral conductor, music teacher and performer. Through Gondwana Choirs, he has conducted Gondwana Singers (National Choral School 2014 & 2015, Sydney), Gondwana Young Men’s Choir (Festival of Voices 2015, Tasmania) as well as festivals and workshops in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. He has co-conducted the Cairns Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir with Lyn Williams (OAM) since 2013. 

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Music Education at Duquesne University, USA, Chris spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching music and choral conducting in Samoa. He moved to New Zealand in 2001 and was Director of Music & Performing Arts at Waimea College, Nelson, for 10 years. He founded the school’s chamber choir, Belle a Cappella, which was invited to The Big Sing National Finale three times earning Silver, Bronze and Adjudicator’s Awards.
As Associate Conductor of the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir (2007-2008), Chris toured throughout New Zealand and to South America. He performed with Voices New Zealand, the national chamber choir, from 2002- 2013 including regular performances at the NZ International Arts Festival and with the NZSO, the New Zealand String Quartet, the Hilliard Ensemble and tours to Europe (2005) and the World Choral Symposium in Argentina (2011). Chris features on Voices New Zealand’s CD recording, ‘Voice of the Soul’, which was nominated for Best Classical Album at the 2014 NZ Music Awards. 

Chris has performed as a classical voice soloist in numerous concerts and productions, most notably ‘Carmina Burana’ at the Nelson Arts Festival (2008). He founded Musica Ficta, Nelson’s Early Music vocal ensemble, and performed with Baroque Voices, the professional Early Music ensemble based in Wellington. Chris played trombone with the Nelson Symphony and co-founded the funk band, Trent de L’Amour and the Subcommittee. It is rumoured that he was a member of Comrade Z, Nelson’s loudest East European klezmer band (though this has never been proven).

He currently teaches Music, Religious Education and is eLearning Staff Development Middle Leader at St. Monica’s College, Cairns’ oldest school and only all-girls Catholic school. Chris conducts the college’s Senior Choir, formed the school’s first Brass Ensemble and reignited the boys’ choir at neighbouring St. Augustine’s College. He has performed at the Cairns Festival, at the Centre of Contemporary Arts through Paradise Concerts and performs regularly on accordion and piano with Tango Amor.


Paul Holley OAM

Paul  Holley 2015
Guest Conductor - Pemulwuy! Adult Choir

Paul Holley is a choral conductor, educator and motivator. His personal warmth and passion for choral music have inspired many singers to discover and develop their skills and achieve personal fulfilment as choral musicians.

Presently Paul conducts two ensembles for Voices of Birralee: The Birralee Blokes - the current ABC Classic FM Choir of the Year and also "Choir of the World" as judged at the 2012 International Kathaumixw in Canada; Resonance of Birralee - Gold medal winners at the 2008 World Choir Games.

In 2007 the Blokes performed to acclaim at the 3rd International Male Voice Festival in Cornwall, UK. The choir has toured in the United States, Canada and New Zealand and been invited multiple times to perform at ANCA national conferences. The Birralee Blokes also featured in the Battle of the Choirs TV show.

Paul’s desire to see young people continue to grow as choral musicians led him to become the Director of Resonance of Birralee, a youth choir for 18 - 30 year olds. The choir has toured nationally and internationally and in 2008, were gold medallists at the World Choir Games in Graz, Austria. This desire also led to Paul accepting the position of principal conductor of Gondwana Chorale, the national youth choir of the Gondwana Choirs association.

Paul is also a secondary school music teacher at Brisbane Girls Grammar School where he conducts three choirs and teaches group voice lessons.

As a choral educator Paul is dedicated to excellence in choral education and regularly features as guest conductor/clinician at festivals, conferences and music competitions throughout Australia.
In 2016, Paul was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia for his services to Choral Music.
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