The Everywhere Venues Australian Christmas Song Competition has been organised to encourage Australian choirs to learn and sing four Australian Christmas songs composed by Hazel Hughes.
Hazel Hughes 1915-1992
Composer, lyricist, artist and orchardist’s wife
Hazel Hughes spent her early years in the Sydney cultural scene. She was the second youngest of four children to German immigrants Louise and William Homer. Her father William Homer was a well-known Sydney printer. During World War II the family changed their name from Holzheimer to Homer due to the anti-German feelings at the time.
Hazel was a noted graphic artist and was the key commercial artist for her father’s printing firm as most able men were away at the war. She provided intricate pen and ink advertising work for Prouds, Anthony Horderns, Nock and Kirbys Rosella and Grace Bros. The artwork on this website was first painted by hand by Hazel!
The creative arts were her great passion. She was a member of the Rose Bay Theatrical Society along with Joan Sutherland. Her childhood home was full of trophies for the prizes she won at the Sydney Eisteddfods for music and elocution.
She went on to marry Ronald Hughes and moved to a large apple orchard at Oakdale 30 kms west of Camden – a three hour drive to Sydney on many dirt roads – now 90 minutes on an expressway! They had four children Philip, Mary, Roslyn and Dorothy.
Life on the orchard was often difficult but Hazel maintained her sense of humour and nurture her creativity. Much of her music and poetry was composed in quiet moments on the apple orchard. She regularly performed in Camden and Oakdale particularly in the local churches and musical societies.
Hazel loved the Australian way of life and felt strongly that much of our Christmas music did not relate to real Australia. Her four Australian Christmas Songs are a wonderful contribution to Australia’s growing heritage of music and the performances by international groups such as The Song Company are testimony to her musical prowess.
After Hazel’s death, her daughter Roslyn was inspired to preserve her mother’s memory and musical legacy. Her goal was to have Hazel’s four Christmas songs professionally arranged and published. This would ensure that people across Australia could enjoy the songs that Hazel’s family all sang together each Christmas around the family piano and at the little country church.
Roslyn organised for professional musical editing and arrangements of the songs to get them published even using her Mother’s own art work for the cover design.
In 2007, Roslyn organised the first of three song competitions for people to sing Hazel’s four Christmas songs. Mitchell Conservatorium was a generous supporter and oversaw the judging. As you can hear on our YouTube channel, the entries were excellent!
Nine years after the final of those three competitions, Roslyn and her daughter Zoe have decided to relaunch the competition with a focus on school and community choirs. This has largely been inspired by Zoe attending the Christmas concerts at her own daughter’s primary school and thinking how wonderful it would be if Hazel’s songs could be song by her great-grandchildren!
The goal of this competition is to make Hazel’s Christmas songs well-known and sung throughout Australia so that her legacy can live on and continue to inspire future generations.
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