In 1946, the hugely popular George Logie Smith was director of music at The Geelong College and choirmaster at St David’s Presbyterian Church Geelong.
Keen to add young people to the church choir, he invited some dayboys at the college to become choristers. He believed that when the boys joined the choir young girls would follow.
He was right.
Geoff Neilson (pictured above, second left) was one of the boys. Now 87 years old, Geoff is still singing in the choir, as he has been for 71 years.
Geoff learned to sight-read music while a student at Geelong College, savouring the music tuition provided by Logie Smith – from kindergarten to year 12.
“What a privilege” he says.
The choir has performed most of the great church repertoire: Messiah, The Crucifixion, Sleepers Wake and so on. The most recent was the 2016 Messiah at St David’s, with Brendon Lukin at the organ and Julie Seal conducting.
At its peak in 1960, Sunday attendance was over 500, and Sunday school numbers 250. In common with many congregations, St David’s attendance numbers have fallen and ‘junior church’ is held only occasionally.
However, the choir continues with Geoff, despite having suffered a stroke, still in the tenor line.