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Isaac Bergman



I found my way into the world of Classical singing and Eisteddfods along a path with hidden signposts.


As a child I had loved any melody and song I heard on the family's Peter Pan valve radio. I particularly enjoyed yodelling and singing along to C & W songs. Later, my attention turned to the romantic/ dramatic musicals of Rogers and Hammerstein, particularly Carousel. 


I also had a quiet fascination for the piano but in Year 12 chose to buy the more affordable acoustic guitar. I soon started to compose my own folk and C & W style of songs.


I continued composing my own songs while studying English and History for a B.A. But through studying stirring Old-English ballads and modern Poetry, I developed a love of ballads and a hobby of setting ballads and poems to music. I also stepped into a last-minute acting role requiring a long monologue and gained an immense thrill from hearing appreciative laughter from the audience. This acting role was almost as important as my first Eisteddfod in fostering my love of performing on Stage.


A Group called 'Sing Out Southland' was visiting the University and offered me the opportunity to join them. In no time at all, I was singing solos at schools and churches with this Group. A senior member of the Group complimented me on my voice, and suggested it was worth having some singing lessons - so I did have some before leaving University. I enjoyed learning about the basics of singing and enjoyed the few soirees I attended.


Then I went out Teaching to Ballarat and Geelong. During that year I wrote songs absolutely prolifically. However, I must have had 'Singing' on my mind for I answered an Age advertisement for an 'Entrance Scholarship' to study at Melba Memorial Conservatorium. I then auditioned successfully. I was finding Teaching enjoyable but stressful. I was also struggling to complete my Teaching Qualifications. So I took the huge step of leaving the Teaching profession.

I found a position as a Library Assistant at Altona City Library and began studying Singing part-time.


I loved my first year of singing training under Ian Field accompanied by Kaye Allen. Even the endless scales which I practised day and night. From modest success at the Hartwell Eisteddfod later that year - a 2nd and an Honourable Mention - plus a lot of generous encouragement from an Adjudicator, my love of Eisteddfods was born!!!


I had to cancel my Singing study late the following year due to throat infections and general poor health after being pushed prematurely into Melba's Opera School during a very cold winter. But l returned to singing, mostly without a singing teacher, and mostly via Eisteddfods. I had a light baritone voice in those early years but always promising enough to encourage me to continue.


I then had a long break from public singing for several years until  Kerry Susan Drake of The Leading Dramatic Society Theatre gave me an opportunity to make a major comeback by singing a variety of Musical Comedy songs at their frequent Concerts. She also gave me the opportunity to sing my poetry adaptations and guitar songs at her Poetry & Song festivals.


After a brief infatuation with the Operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, I realized to my own surprize that I had been ignoring a growing passion for Grand Opera!  So I auditioned for The Melbourne City Opera and began singing mainly in their Ensemble - although securing several cameos such as the Bass Solo in Beethoven's Fidelio and the acting role of 'il vecchio' in Giordano's Andreas Chenier. I was fortunate that my voice deepened into more of an operatic Baritone and enabled me to sing more Arias at Eisteddfods. I was now also able to tackle more powerful Music Theatre pieces such as 'The Music Of The Night' from The Phantom of the Opera and 'The Impossible Dream' from Man of La Mancha. 


During my years singing in Opera ensembles, as well as following my various musical hobbies, I kept returning to Eisteddfods.  The opportunity and challenge of singing solos and interpreting songs in front of a knowledgeable Adjudicator and an appreciative audience were too exciting for me to ignore. 


I may not have sung in my last Opera or completely have disappeared from public performance altogether but I am certainly in semi-retirement. And at this stage, I am excited by a new opportunity - the opportunity of assisting young singers and musicians to experience the pleasure and education of our own Eisteddfod By The Bay. I am proud to be part of the Committee and will assist in every way I can.

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