In 1920, Sydney was a different place. Yet the bones of the emerging city had been laid. The Great War was over, and the chaos caused by returning soldiers bringing the pneumonic flu across through shipping ports and train stations had faded. Closed venues and compulsory mask mandates –  measuresthe government put in place to combat the deadly pandemic – were finally lifted.

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Photo © Keith Saunders

It was against this backdrop that a group of 19 singers from Sydney’s Inner West churches gave their first performance on September 9, 1920 at Randwick Hospital, now called Prince of Wales. Choirs bind people together, and the Hurlstone Park Choral Society kept on meeting year after year. In the 30s and 40s, against the backdrop of depression and war, their numbers grew and they finally become the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs of today.

A century ago, Sydney would’ve been without its most recognisable landmarks: The Harbour Bridge was built in 1923 and the Sydney Opera House opened in 1973. At a more fundamental level, it had yet to acquire the multi-cultural diversity which is the hallmark of today’s society. It’s this...