The Spring Mountain Fest 2018 is a weekend singing retreat for mixed voices

WHAT: Feed your soul some fabulous music, meet some other local singers, and enjoy the clean Mt Evelyn air.
WHEN: Friday 23 November – Sunday 25 November 2018


 * Make sure you take the path to your right, just before you enter the football oval *


Workshops from some of Australia’s best choral directors and musicians.

Firepit sing-a-longs with wood-fired pizza supper

Friday night music team trivia



Image of Annemarie Sharry

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A graduate of the Victorian College Of The Arts, and recipient of the Mabel Kent Singing Scholarship, Annemarie has worked for many years, as both a vocal soloist and choral educator. As co-founder and Musical Director of Melbourne based SOUTH OF THE RIVER CHOIR, she led the choir to the finals of the ABC Classic FM Choir of the Year Awards in 2006. This dynamic community choir explores the music and rhythms of Africa, traditional African American gospel and original Australian compositions, through workshops and festivals.

As Director of ACAPPELLAWORKS, Annemarie has been influential in developing choirs in the workplace. Her vocal programs have been adopted by a number of organisations including Flight Centre, The Department of Human Services and World Vision

Annemarie has been a member of two premier and award winning Australian a cappella ensembles: AKASA and COCOS LUNCH. She continues to sing regularly with her own jazz quartet and as a featured soloist in the cutting edge Opera company, Emotionworks.


Image of Darren Wicks

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Dr. Darren Wicks is a vocalist, jazz pianist and choral conductor with a passion for working with singers and teachers.  Darren’s career spans over 20 years and includes: work as a high school music teacher; work with community music groups; studio teaching; school and community choirs; musical theatre and teacher education.

With an impressive academic background, Darren holds qualifications in jazz, choral conducting, aural training, a Master of Music Education degree and a Ph.D. in voice pedagogy. In his quest for vocal knowledge, Darren has studied numerous approaches to singing and taken lessons with experts in methods such as:  Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA), Speech Level Singing (SLS), Somatic Voicework ™, Estil Voice Training, Voice Science. He has also studied many approaches to music education and is certified in the Orff and Kodaly concepts.

Over countless visits to the USA, Darren has studied with jazz, RnB, and gospel artists in New York, Harlem, Brooklyn, Nashville, New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles developing his understanding of how to translate African-American singing styles to Australian culture. He currently runs a busy private studio, directs the 110-voice Melbourne Singers of Gospel, is active in numerous professional associations, widely-published and regularly presents at teacher conferences.


Image of Sue Johnson

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Sue Johnson is a composer, musical director and recording artist (vocalist, pianist and choral conductor) who has co-produced numerous CDs of original works with various artists and performed nationally and internationally.

Sue has co-founded vocal and improvisation groups (including award-winning Coco’s Lunch and Morgana), collaborated with Australian authors (Elizabeth Honey, Sally Rippin, Meme McDonald, Rosalind Price) as well as numerous arts organisations (Musica Viva, Sydney Opera House, Jump Leads, Theatre Arts Export, The Boite).

She is also a composer for children’s theatre, television and books including numerous seasons of Playhouse Disney. In 2008 her first book & audio CD with author Elizabeth Honey “Still Awake Still” published by Allen and Unwin was adapted into a theatre work touring the US and Australia directed by Jessica Wilson.

Sue’s published vocal scores are recorded by choirs worldwide and have been sung by numerous USA all-state chorus’. She has completed commissions for massed voices, led vocal improvisations with audiences of 2000+, produced workshops and concerts in venues ranging from concert halls to yoga spaces and created singing groups in workplaces and community. She has just recorded a teaching resource of original chants and songs for choirs recorded by the Songrise Quartet to be published soon.

Sue lectured at the Victorian College of the Arts Improvisation department from 1990 – 1999 and has tutored at Melbourne University, presented at conferences (ASME, Children’s Book Council, VMTA) and was artist in residence at many schools and festivals.

Sue has received numerous nominations and awards including Montsalvat Yalumba Jazz Medal (best young performer), APRA award nomination (with author Elizabeth Honey for most performed jazz work 2003) and nomination for Honouring Women in Moreland Award as well as Coco’s Lunch nominations for the ARIAS 2007 (Best World Album & Best Children’s Album) USA Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (Runner-Up Best Folk/World Album), 2000 Australian World Music Awards (finalist Best Album)


Image of Valanga Khoza

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Valanga has been conducting joyous singing workshops of South African songs and chants. The material includes traditional, original and freedom songs. He explores traditional rhythms and harmonies through voice and movement. This singing is very inclusive and is for anyone who can speak and have fun! Many people who have taken part in his workshops leave surprised at the fact that they were singing so beautifully when they have never sung before in their lives!

His workshops have been with the general public, community choirs, festivals and small groups. Some of the workshops have ended up in live recordings with the ABC, including an album called “The Choral Sea”. Valanga left South Africa in 1976, exiled along with many other young people because of their struggle against apartheid. The music he has since created reflects the places he has been and the people he has touched throughout his journey.



Image of Chris Blain

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Chris has been writing, producing, managing and performing in the music industry for over fifteen years, and has a wealth of knowledge of the artistic, technical and business sides of the industry.

Chris’ a cappella man-band SUADE have been performing for over fifteen years, and have toured extensively, both locally and internationally. They have produced four albums – the latest self-produced by Chris and his brother Loz.

Chris is the Operations Manager at MusoMagic, running youth leadership and development programs throughout indigenous communities in Australia, and runs music programs for Red Dust Roel Models. He’s also the musical director of “Men In Suits”, and was a co-founder and director of Vocal Australia – Australia’s a cappella singing hub.


  • Please note: This schedule may change slightly in the lead-up to the event. We will keep you informed as quickly as possible. 


From ​17:00: Arrive, registration
​18:00: Light meal
​19:00: Welcome, introduction, team MUSIC TRIVIA
​20:30: Firepit Sing-a-long


​07:00: Breakfast
09:00: CHRIS BLAIN (warm up and intro)
​10:15: Morning Tea
​12:30: Lunch
​15:00: Afternoon Tea
​17:30: CHRIS BLAIN (daily recap)
​18:00: Dinner
​19:00: Firepit Sing-a-long


07:00: Breakfast
09:00: CHRIS BLAIN (warm up and intro)
10:15: Morning Tea
12:30: Lunch
15:30: Afternoon Tea
15:40: CHRIS BLAIN (daily recap)
16:30: Depart


The accommodation provided onsite is camp style living –  3 to 4 people per room, most of them large rooms that could take 6 to 10 people. You must provide your own bedding and bring a towel. There is a communal bathroom located on each floor. 

If you prefer something a little more luxurious, here are some other options for accommodation within 10km of the site:

York on Lilydale Retreat 

(~$150 per night)


A Twist Of Willow
(~$135 per night)

Foothills Conference Centre
(~$140 per night)

Dorset Gardens Hotel

(~$110 per night)

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