The Mackay Choral Society was formed in February 1945 by the late Mr F J Reeves and called, at that time, the Mackay Choral and Orchestral Society.
Our first performance was at an ‘on air’ concert in May of 1945, followed by their first public concert on Thursday, August 2, 1945, at the Olympic Theatre, which is now a public car park on the corner of Gordon and Wood Streets in Mackay. The participants in that first concert included the Mackay City Band (under the baton of Mr Vic Spurrier), Miss Joan Pascoe (now Burke), Mr J Garner, Mr Wilf Andrew, Mr F J Reeves himself, accompanied by a violin obbligato played by Miss Norma Hague (now Shuttlewood), and pianists Miss Audrey Hughes (now Kunst) and Miss Coral Nunn.
It is known that among the choir’s repertoire at that first concert was Gloria from The 12th Mass by Mozart, and it is interesting to note that this chorus was repeated at a special concert held to celebrate the end of World War II. The name of the society was indeed changed again – twice to be exact – to the Mackay Choral society in 1947 and to the Mackay Choral and Operatic Society in 1949, but the name ‘Mackay Choral Society’ re-emerged in 1950 and has remained unchanged ever since.
Mr F J Reeves, B.A. was the founding Conductor, the music, in those days, was restricted to either Eisteddfod type items or to oratorios, and no musical comedy items were attempted. Whilst it has never been said, it was inferred that the attitude at the time was that musical comedy was unbecoming to serious singers.
Mackay Choral Society made their first appearance in the North Queensland Eisteddfod in 1952 and achieved a resounding success. Buoyed up by this success, when the North Queensland Eisteddfod was held for the first time in Mackay, over Easter of 1954, Mackay fielded an ‘A’ grade choir of over 75 voices.
In the intervening years choral numbers have varied, but in recent years, numbers have returned to ‘A’ grade choir standard. In 2011 the choir won the prestigious Chorus from Music Theatre for only the third time in 40 years, and in 2012 were awarded both the Choral Championship and the Aggregate award in the North Queensland Eisteddfod. In 2013 the choir travelled to Rockhampton for the Queensland Eisteddfod, winning the Open Modern Chorus Contest and were placed second in the Open Grand Champion Choir Aggregate. Many members of the choir also competed successfully in solo sections.
After rehearsing for many years in St Paul’s church hall and at the Community Music Centre in the old butter factory, owned at the time by long- time patron Bruce Shepherd, the choir moved to its own purpose-built premises at Snow Wright Court, Beaconsfield in 1989.
Many people have been involved with the Society since its inception and whatever their involvement, whether it be great or small, it has contributed to the betterment and advancement of the choir, until the present day, where it is firmly established as a vibrant and vital part of the Mackay community.