History of the Sydney Street Choir

“A creative, supportive & nurturing community that sings and performs”

The Sydney Street Choir was originally formed by Jonathan Welch and nurtured during its first ten years by the Choir Director, Peter Lehner into a very creative musical community, which writes, composes and performs most of their own music, based on their own life journey & experiences.

“Music therapy can make the difference between isolation & interaction.”

The Choir performed to a variety of audiences and venues including the Barangaroo stage Darling Harbour, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Town Hall, Melbourne Town Hall with the Choir of Hard Knocks, Sydney Conference Centre, The Basement Club, and at welfare, community and corporate events.

Choir members have travelled to remote Northern Territory and country locations to share their unique community spirit and joyful song, never failing to uplift and inspire audiences everywhere.

In recent years, they have written, recorded and performed their own songs producing three CDs, and two theatre productions and Peter’s work was continued and taken in a new direction by the current Choir Director James Paul.

The Choir & their newly formed Sydney Street Choir Foundation has gone through the very delicate process of moving from a simple community-based choir to a vitally necessary, legal entity, enabling tax deductable status & grant opportunities as well as OH&S and governance needed to support a not for profit charitable music therapy organisation serving people with enormous needs.

There are times when what you see and hear is raw. It is a twice weekly music therapy program, with regular performances but not a commercial performance group. They are not about making the most perfect sound but they are about being absolutely inclusive, vulnerably open and expressive.

In theatre projects written by the Choir, they have performed at the Belvoir Street Theatre and at PACT Theatre. The first theatre project was juxtaposed alongside Orpheus in the Underworld. It told of the individual members’ journeys from dark to light, from addictions, drug, alcohol, gambling, homelessness and rejection to becoming part of a supportive nurturing community that sings and performs. It was an outstanding success in so many areas, bringing confidence and an immense sense of achievement, satisfaction and well being to the Choir, as well as earning rave reviews from the general public & every aspect of the media.

In December, 2010, the Choir took part in the ‘Lights of Christmas’ proudly presented by NSW Government, as Sydney celebrated the beauty of Christmas in a spectacle of light and song.

In 2011 at PACT Theatre, the choir performed a theatre show called 'Into the Light', a story that shares memories, hopes and inspiration. The choir left the audience moved, uplifted and thankful for the little things that make life worth living. It was a poignant and moving slice of life account of beating the odds to emerge healthy in body, mind and spirit.

Members of the Sydney Street Choir are living testament to the changes that can be made in people’s lives through the power of song and the support of a community. Geoff Wood of ABC Radio’s The Rhythm Divine refers to the Choir’s power to work magic with their audiences.

"...I first heard the choir recording songs in one of our studios. I was there for three hours, mesmerised by the joy that each choir member brought to their singing. Every time the Sydney Street Choir sings, it's done with complete conviction and strength, and it also reminds us all that when you have no home and a song is your only possession, music can be a real life-line."