Chorale Conversations: Eva Coggins, alto

Tell us a bit about your musical background, including, how many years you have sung in a choir

I first joined the primary school choir at seven years old, and sang in choirs all through school. After high school, I realised how much I missed singing and that I wanted it to be a part of my life, so I joined my university’s choir, and later sang in a community choir for several years. In total it’s been about 20 years.

What made you fall in love with choral music?

I had some incredibly passionate and dedicated music teachers who gave us a strong foundation, and the opportunity to see the joy of participating in music (shout out to Mrs Long, Mrs Overs and Mrs Toussis!). In year 9 my school’s choirs participated in ANCA Fest. We did Rutter’s Gloria, and there was this indescribable feeling of being in a room with a hundred people, all working together to create something that was greater than the sum of its parts. I remember walking out of the concert, thinking “I have to do that again”.

Why did you decide you wanted to be part of Brisbane Chorale?

I had a friend who was in the choir several years ago, who spoke well of the choir and of Emily, so it had always been in the back of my mind. After leaving my previous choir, I was looking for a choir that likes to perform, does repertoire I enjoy, will challenge me, and has a great community of people. When I came along to my first rehearsal, I knew I’d found it.

What’s your favourite choral performance that you’ve been a part of and why?

Probably Beethoven’s 9th, which we did in my first year of uni. It was my first “real” performance to an audience that wasn’t just our parents, and so many weeks of work went into it; it was amazing to watch it all come together. I have great memories from that time.

Inside many choral singers is a frustrated soloist! If you were a world-famous singer choosing repertoire for your next concert tour, which piece of music would you absolutely have to include and why?

Extremely hard question! There are so many. Maybe Hashkiveinu by Max Helfman – it’s a Jewish lullaby that is incredibly solemn and beautiful, and one of the few pieces that makes me genuinely jealous not to be the soloist. Viewers of the West Wing may remember it from a particularly serious episode, Take This Sabbath Day, which is where I discovered it.

Tell us a little about your occupation, what you do when not hard at work learning Chorale repertoire!

I’m a planning and environment lawyer, so I advise and litigate on town planning, development, environmental harm… I’m unashamedly a massive nerd and love my work, but it’s very rational and left brain-heavy, so choir is a great balance to that.

Besides singing, do you have any special talents or skills you’d like to share with us?

I’ve recently taken a pottery course. It’s hardly a talent at this point, but so far I’ve made several wonky little bowls and cups and had a lot of fun!