Our centrepiece event is the Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival, also known as IV or AIVCF. This annual festival cycles through the capital cities of those states that have AICSA member choirs. The festival takes place over two weeks, usually during the summer or mid-year university holidays. During the festival, our member choirs join to prepare and perform one or two major concerts, often involving a local symphony orchestra and accomplished soloists and conductors.
Every year, university choristers from around Australia (and some even returning from overseas!) come together for the long-awaited two weeks of the AIVCF. Over a day or two, up to 250 choristers descend on the city and then head straight to camp. The camp lasts for the first week of the festival and involves day-long rehearsals bringing everyone rapidly up to date with the music for the concerts. Alongside the rehearsal schedule runs an equally gruelling social schedule, including events such as a theme party, a university revue and a film night of archival films from previous IVs.
When camp is over, the IV moves to the city, pushing the billeting capacity of the local choirs to the limit. The second week of IV sees more rehearsals, and frequently the major concert of the festival. Social activities in the second week include a formal ‘academic dinner’ featuring toasts, awards, jokes and songs, the post-concert parties (PCPs) and the recovery barbecue where choristers say their goodbyes until the next time.
Apart from the AIVCFs there are occasional mini-festivals, which are held by various states. These festivals are held to celebrate events such as major choir anniversaries, and tend to be smaller than an IV, although interstate participants are invited. Mini-festivals rarely have large-scale major performances, and tend to run for shorter periods (e.g. 3-10 days).
Alongside these ‘major’ events, we have a fantastic social climate. It is not unusual for an interstate visitor to turn up suddenly at a choir’s rehearsal, camp or other event. This constant interstate shuffle helps include new choir members in the national movement before they have had the opportunity to attend an AIVCF, and provides its members with a network of friends that extends right around the country.
Being part of an AIVCF is generally held to be a fantastic experience to be repeated time and time again. Indeed, there are many participants in IVs who are no longer attending their local choir but who still return once a year to be part of the music and the festivities.