Very first CSMF in 1989, Memorial Hall, St Peter's College Adelaide.jpg

Very first CSMF - August 16, 1989, Memorial Hall, St Peter's College Adelaide. Sr Colleen conducted the choir of 16 schools & 5 Support Acts. Accomp: Caroline Pomeroy

2016 Twilight Concert


Click here to read our review: Statewide Blackout - A Year to Remember!


2020 & COVID-19

BUMP IN -IMG_8179.jpg

Click here to read an article: the Festival will go on!


Sr Colleen Roberts RSJ, Founder of the Catholic Schools Music Festival writes:

‘Choral singing has the power to lift spirits and change lives.’

Source unknown.


I was a Music Consultant with the CEO introducing Primary School Teachers to a Vocal Based Music Education Programme.  Logically, the next step was to involve these students in Choral performance.  Choral Music was and is a passion of mine.

I had long wanted our Catholic schools to combine with the Primary Schools Music Society Festival.  They suggested I start my own.  This was a daunting task given my main role was to the teachers in the classroom.  However, I managed to convince the Deputy Director, Bill Clohesy that I could do both - without sacrificing the standard of work in the schools.  He gave me his blessing and support and the rest is history!

The majority of the schools involved in this Vocal based programme were from what was then categorised as disadvantaged schools. I didn’t want our children to miss out on the advantages that being involved in such a Festival would bring.  Most of these students had never been inside the Festival Theatre.

So, with a great deal of assistance from the Stage Manager of the Public Schools Music Society and with a small committed band of teachers on the committee, we launched our Festival.  We expected the highest possible standard from all students involved in both the Choral and the Support Acts.

...a brief history...1990-1999

1990 - The Festival relocated to the Adelaide Festival Theatre, where it is still being held. Denise Rothall is made Support Act Coordinator for three years.

Mary Le Page, OAM takes over as Festival accompanist.

1991 - The Festival grew to being held over two nights.

1993 - Ros Mattner takes over as Support Act Coordinator from Denise Rothall.

1994 - Michael Griffin takes over as Music Director from Sr Colleen Roberts.
Ivy Hill takes over as Chariperson of the Music Festival.

1996 - Denise Rothall takes over as Music Director from Michael Griffin.

1997 - Jonathon Rice takes over as Support Act Coordinator from Ros Mattner.

1998 - Due to demand from schools wanting to be involved, the Festival was held over three nights.  Julie Dobo takes over as Festival Accompanist.

1999 - Deb Hepworth takes over as Music Director.

...the story continues...2000-2019

2000 - Denise Rothall takes up the now full-time position as the Festival's Music Director.  Pamela Buccini takes over as Festival Accompanist.  Ben Chambers takes over as Support Act Coordinator from Jonathon Rice.

2001 - The Festival moved to being held over four nights due to the number of schools participating.

2003 - Tim Donovan takes over as Support Act Coordinator from Ben Chambers.

2007 - Peter Watermann and Timothy Davey take over as Support Act Coordinators from Tim Donovan.

2009 - The role of Catholic Schools Music Festival Consultant is created and Vicki McGregor is appointed.

2010 - Timothy Davey continues as Support Act Coordinator on his own.

2011 - Gennaro Mannella takes over as Chairperson from Ivy Hill.

2012 - Stephen Millar takes over as Support Act Coordinator from Timothy Davey.

2015 - Samantha Taylor takes over from Vicki McGregor as Festival Production Coordinator. Russell McGlone takes over as Support Act Coordinator from Stephen Millar.

2016 - James Musci takes over as Support Act Coordinator from Russell McGlone, who maintains his role as Rhythm Section Coordinator.  The year of the state-wide blackout, with 2 shows cancelled, and then re-imagined at St Michael's College in Term 4. 

2017 & 2018 - Closure of the Adelaide Festival Theatre due to major building works & plaza renovations;  relocated to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre Arena and Theatre respectively. 

2019 - The Festival moves back to the redeveloped Adelaide Festival Centre, with the entrance now riverside.

...2020 and beyond...

2020 - Covid-19! Reinvented the staging of the performances and provided a professional recording studio environment to create 4 distinct concert videos to stream to families. 

2021 - Festival relocated to the Entertainment Centre Theatre due to a 7-month closure of the AFC for further plaza reinforcement. Meredith Wilson joins the team to share the role as Festival Accompanist alongside Pamela Buccini, who, in the end was unable to perform due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

2022 - Festival held back at the Festival Theatre. Chair of 20 years, Gennaro Mannella retires from the Management Committee, and we thank him sincerely for his many years of service and for going above and beyond in so many ways. 

2023 - Festival again held at the Festival Theatre although for a new twist it needed to be held from Tuesday to Friday! New Chair Adam Slater, Principal at St Joseph's Memorial School joins the Management Committee. 

Catholic Schools Music Festival

Mon 23 - Thur 26 September 2024
Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre