Where We Have Come From

Our Beginnings

Counterpoint Chamber Choir was formed early in 1996, to prepare for a performance in August of that year.  This once only concert followed the allocation of a grant to Maitland Arts Council, from Sydney Arts Council, with the purpose of presenting a concert by local performers for local people, thereby supporting and encouraging local talent.

The choir was formed by Maitland music teacher, Helen Tuyl, gathering a group of musically minded Maitland friends together.  The performance was under the direction of Anthony Heitmeyer and was accompanied by pianist Chip Paull.  This original ensemble consisted of 14 members, four in each female vocal part and three in each male vocal part.

After the First Concert

Having experienced the shared joy of that initial performance, the choristers were keen to continue, however director and accompanist were both unavailable.  Local ABC announcer John Clarke was invited to conduct the group and Dr Sylvia Ireland took over as accompanist.  The choir developed and improved under John’s direction and the repertoire expanded greatly to satisfy the ever-increasing number of performances.

Our Directors

Throughout the years, Counterpoint Chamber Choir has been directed by several highly accomplished and talented regional musicians who have brought a variety of styles and approaches to the repertoire and presentation. In addition to Anthony and John, our podium has been graced by Kathryn Geoghegan, Evanne Sherringham, Robb Dennis, Ellery Durrant and Victoria Stanmore, and Elaine Barnes.

In 2022, following a substantial hiatus caused by COVID-19 and with the resignation of Elaine Barnes due to relocation for work commitments, local musician and teacher, Karen Drury accepted our offer to take over the directorship of Counterpoint Chamber Choir. She has successfully brought the choir back to public performance standard following the difficult times of 2021 and 2022.  The repertoire has been expanded with the inclusion of several, new, early music pieces as well as several very contemporary ones, written during COVID.  Old favourites, however, are still part of the repertoire.

Counterpoint Chamber Choir Directors and Conductors

Anthony Heitmeyer 1996
John Clarke 1996 - 2000
Kathryn Geoghegan; John Clarke; Heather Russell-McLaren 2000 - 2001
Kathryn Geoghegan 2001 - 2003
George Garnsey; David Porter 2003
Evanne Sherringham 2004 - 2013
David Porter; Elaine Barnes 2013 - 2014
Robb Dennis 2014 - 2016
Ellery Durrant & Victoria Stanmore 2017
Elaine Barnes 2018 - 2021
Karen Drury 2022 - 2024

(Conductors during an interegnum shown in italics)

Our Accompanists

Over the years, Counterpoint Chamber Choir has also welcomed some very talented local pianists as accompanists and repetiteurs since our original pianist Chip and her successor Sylvia. Along with a number of guest accompanists, our piano stool has been very ably occupied by Gilbert Beveridge, Marcia Wall, Margaret Kavanagh, Leanne Swanson, Megan O'Neill and recently Dierdre Ditton, who resigned at the end of 2022 after a significant number of years at the keyboard.

In 2023 we were pleased to welcome Tyler Dean-Brinkley, a young local musician to provide our rehearsal accompaniment and assist the bass line in our a cappella numbers. Singing members Jo Loi, Margaret Kavanagh and Wendy Gibbs, along with Tyler have provided accompaniment for performance where required.

Karen has also introduced a number of other instrumental accompaniments to our repertoire, using guest musicians and choir members.

Counterpoint Chamber Choir Accompanists and Repetiteurs

Chip Paull 1996
Sylvia Ireland (with assistance from Jackie McMichael and Kathryn Geoghegan) 1996 - 2004
Gilbert Beveridge 2005 - 2006
Marcia Wall
Margaret Kavanagh
2007 - 2010
Deirdre Ditton 2011
Gilbert Beveridge 2012 - 2013
Leanne Swanson 2013
Megan O'Neill 2015
Margaret Kavanagh 2016
Deirdre Ditton 2016 - 2022
Tyler Dean-Brinkley 2023 - 


Counterpoint Chamber Choir Guest Accompanists

Marcia Wall
Phillip Sketchley
Giles Manley
Callum Close
Jo Loi
Margaret Kavanagh
Wendy Gibbs


Our Singers

Of the 14 foundation members, five continue to sing with the group.  The choir has expanded several times over the years and now has a membership of up to five per vocal part with the opportunity of an additional student member in each part.