Chorale Conversations: Rob Partridge, tenor


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

I played piano as a kid and have always loved music of all forms, but I’m a relative newcomer to singing. My parents sang in choirs since their teens (it’s how they met). I think it was their escape from us kids and didn’t invite us to join their choir. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I joined my first community choir singing contemporary a cappella music. At one point I was in five contemporary groups ranging from a quintet singing solo bass to a 70 voice choir. I got my first taste of classical singing in the community chorus when Opera Australia came to the Gold Coast with their production of Mozart’s Magic Flute. Then I graduated to singing tenor in their Aida a few years later and later sang the part of Silvio in I Pagliacci with the Gold Coast Opera company. It was shortly after that I joined Brisbane Chorale and haven’t looked back!

What made you fall in love with choral music?

I think it was the movie Amadeus that made me feel the emotive power of choral singing. Ignoring the obvious factual issues with the film, that man Mozart could write! I’ve yet to sing the Requiem (hint hint, Emily). There’s something deeply stirring about choral singing. You get to the point where you disconnect from the technical aspects of singing, stop thinking about notes and words and hear your voice as a small part of something so much larger.

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

I joined for the Christmas music. I got totally duped there as since the Christmas Around the World concert in my first year, we’ve not performed another!

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

Two stand out for me. The Mahler 8 was a mammoth work and beautiful to sing. The most meaningful to me though was the Brahms German Requiem (in November 2020). It had been such a tumultuous year with all the COVID lockdowns; the hiatus of so many performances and events. Then my Dad died in April of that year in the UK in such isolating circumstances. A year when we didn’t know what the future of choral singing was going to be. Yet we managed to rehearse and perform a piece that Dad had sung only a short time before. The peace-filled final movement was the balm I needed.

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?

I’m more of a crowd dweller myself, not minding singing a part of my own as long as I have company on stage to harmonise with. If we’re in fantasy tenor land, though, where I have the voice to match, I’d have to include Vesti La Giubba from Pagliacci. Or if I’m allowed a duet perhaps the Nume custode e vindice from Aida. Then I get the choir to back me up at the same time!

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

There’s time for anything else?  I’m a technical writer for Riviera Australia. I write the 300+ page owner’s manuals for luxury motor yachts. Sadly it doesn’t often give me opportunities to go out on the things.

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

I’m a distance runner, gradually working my way to finishing my 13th marathon or ultra marathon. And I’m a juggler and jigsaw puzzler too for the serenity.