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Sylvia Rice

Sylvia Rice

Born in 1939, in Birmingham, England, Sylvia grew up in a family where there was a piano in the lounge room, good music was a part of life and singing was a natural event. Sylvia was an improviser on the piano and could play by ear but danced from the age of three and became a balletomaniac, with the introduction to ballet school at age ten.

Later at the Bedford College of Physical Education where she commenced her career in physical education and with a strong soprano voice, she was both a choral member and soloist with the College choir and received vocal tuition with Patricia King-Smith, a visiting lecturer from the New York Conservatorium. With a teaching position In Liverpool, Sylvia had the opportunity to sing with the Liverpool Philharmonic Choir. Her work in modern dance and movement education was extended to work with young people and adults in the community making use of the then current Beetles' music, as well as more traditional dance music.

In 1964 Sylvia emigrated to Australia entering the NSW teaching service and becoming a lecturer at Armidale Teacher's College. Later she transferred to Wollongong Teacher's College were she remained on staff as the primary lecturer in modern dance and movement education, until retirement in 1994, from what was, by then, the University of Wollongong. She completed a BA Hons. at the University of NSW, Wollongong campus majoring in English Language and Literature, and Psychology.

Always aware of the strong links between music, movement and other art forms, her teaching was characterised by a syncretic approach, utilising concepts from all such disciplines.

For many years Sylvia has sung with the Illawarra Choral Society and has received vocal tuition from Mrs Vera Troitsky, with some successes recorded in Eisteddfodau, especially in art songs. Her choreographic skills were used in college productions and in the world premiere performance of Ann Boyd's, The Little Mermaid.

Her composition career started with adaptations of hymn tunes for choir and she has had hymns published in the new St Alban's musical hymnal. In the past five years, Sylvia has written choral works for the Illawarra Choral Society, several of which have been performed.

In 2002 she published The Edge of the Circle, a collection of her poems written between the ages of 16 and 62. Since then, the marriage of poetry and music has seen the emergence of several minor works as author-composer, and there are two major works in preparation.

In general, Sylvia's work exhibits a strongly melodic influence, often with dance-like rhythms, sometimes with surprising dissonances and resolutions, in a style which reveals her passionate nature. Her subject matter is drawn from both secular and sacred sources, reflecting a deeply thoughtful and compassionate attitude. Single, and singularly happy, Sylvia regards her late appearance as a composer as the most important event of her life.

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