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Hunter singer hopes to hit right note at Sydney Eisteddfod


When Sarah Dockrill takes to the stage to compete in this year’s 2022 Sydney Eisteddfod, she’ll be one step closer to achieving her goal of becoming a professional opera singer.

Though she’s hesitant to look beyond each opportunity that comes her way, the former Hunter Valley Grammar student is eager to continue with the craft that has taken her from singing as a teen at the Newcastle Conservatorium to performing before large crowds 

In fact, with the annual talent quest being cancelled for the past two years due to COVID-19, for her it will be a dream come true just to stand on the stage at the concert hall and sing once more.

“The Sydney Eisteddfod represents a hopefulness that the world is opening up again,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“That means more performance opportunities, and for people in this industry that is such great news.”

Sarah has been entering the annual talent competition every year since she was 21.

“I’ve been performing at the Sydney Eisteddfod since 2015,” she says.

“It started just after I finished my Bachelor in Music at the University of NSW.

“I’ve made it my annual tradition.”

And although she was forced to compete online last year, she is grateful to have maintained the challenge of entering.

“Being in your lounge room with a camera set up and videoing yourself singing along to a backing track is just not the same as performing before a large crowd of professionals and peers,” she admits.

“It was a good way to ensure you keep progressing in your craft but it was a strange experience.”

The 28-year-old who now calls Sydney home, originally chased a career as a jazz singer before broadening her range to include classical and opera.

“I think I believed opera just wasn’t cool when I was a kid,” she says.

“Now I know it is one of the most challenging forms of singing and I appreciate the discipline it requires.”

Sarah now trains under one of Australia’s most successful international artists, mezzo-soprano Deborah Humble.

And she is learning to use her talent to connect with those who appreciate her craft.

“I think it’s about making a connection, about communicating with an audience and sharing a story with them, in song.”

So when she takes to the stage to compete in five chosen sections this July Sarah says she’ll be excited to be communicating with a large audience again.

“I think there’ll be a lot of enthusiasm and energy as the Eistedfodd returns,” she says.

“It’s a very encouraging space. It’ll be great to have access to the adjudicators who are professionals and offer feedback and direction that is ultimately really helpful.”

And Sarah won’t be alone.

After two years of event cancellations, 35,000 young aspiring performing artists will have the opportunity to return to the stage for this year’s Sydney Eisteddfod.

With multiple categories on offer and over $400,000 in prizes and scholarships up for grabs, Sydney Eisteddfod is encouraging all young performers to ‘have a go’ and showcase their diverse and inspiring talents.

With more than 300 events on offer, Sydney Eisteddfod general manager Annette Brown says it is a chance for performers to live out their dreams of performing on stage.

“We know it’s been a tough couple of years for performers and they’ve missed out on the opportunity to engage with a live audience,” she says.

“There are so many benefits to just taking part – you develop new skills, connect with other like-minded people, and become more well-rounded in the process.

“That’s why it’s more important than ever for young people to get involved in performing arts and we hope to see thousands of entrants experience the thrill of showcasing their talents in front of a live audience.”

Entries for Sydney Eisteddfod 2022 are now open and will close on 21 March 2022.

Artists between the ages of 6-35 years will have the chance to perform in front of a collective audience of over 170,000 spectators in more than 300 performing arts events across dance, drama, music, piano, choir, instrumental and song.

The 2022 Sydney Eisteddfod Festival will run from May to September.

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