Geelong and District

...covering local and family history in the greater Barwon region

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Sun Aria Competition

E-mail Print

This fascinating subject came up on the Geelong and District Mailing List.  The interest and input from Mailing List members developed to the point where it warranted its own web page.

History of the Competition

Local winners and contestants

List of winners: Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo


History of the Competition

The competition began as the Sun Aria in 1924 in Ballarat with the South Street Society.  Similar Sun Aria competitions then commenced in Geelong and Ballarat.  The latter two seem to have ceased by 1934 and 1936, while others commenced in Sydney and Canberra.  It was the Ballarat based competition that survived to become the Herald Sun Aria Competition.  Heats are held annually in Ballarat with the final being held at Hamer Hall in Melbourne.

Some of the better known winners in the various Aria competitions include Marjorie Jackson (1928 Geelong), Dame Joan Sutherland (1949 City of Sydney), June Gough [Bronhill] (1950 City of Sydney), and Dame Kiri te Kanawa (1966).

Local winners and contestants

Marjorie Lawrence

Click to view larger image

Marjorie LAWRENCE won the Sun Aria competition (Geelong) in 1928.  It was held at the Palais Royal, Moorabool Street, Geelong

Sadly she was one of our locals who was better known overseas than she was in Australia.

Marjorie Florence LAWRENCE was born 17 Feb 1907 at Deans Marsh, Victoria, Australia.  She was the daughter of William LAWRENCE and Elizabeth SMITH.  Marjorie's mother died in 1909 - the family lived in Deans Marsh until c.1921 when they moved to a property near Winchelsea.

Click to view larger image

At the age of nineteen, Marjorie was an entrant in a musical competition in Colac in 1926.  The competition was open to both male and female contestants.  Marjorie was "well placed in seven events" and won an equal first and a second prize.

In 1927 Marjorie's family built the Globe Theatre in Winchelsea for her.  Following her win in Geelong, Marjorie gave a farewell concert on 21 September 1928 before departing for overseas and beginning her studies in Paris in December 1928.

Click to view larger image

The Globe Theatre still exists today and is protected by a Heritage Overlay.  The theatre was also the scene of one of Marjorie's triumphant home-comings in 1939.

At Marjorie's request, and in accordance with a promise made before she went abroad, she commenced her Australia Tour at Winchelsea with a concert on 17 June.  Apart from a few seats reserved for members of the press, Marjorie insisted that ONLY locals could attend her Winchelsea concert.  Each time she returned to Australia, she always visited Winchelsea and family and friends in Deans Marsh where she also made time to join the choir for Sunday service in the St John's Church of England church.

Marjorie died 13 January 1979 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, where she lived with her husband Thomas KING.

List of winners: Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo

These lists has been compiled from Singers of Australia: from Melba to Sutherland by Barbara MacKenzie and Findlay Mackenzie, published in 1967.  Additional results not listed below can be found in this publication.

Some updates / corrections have been made to the list below by locals and descendants of contestants.

The Sun Aria (Geelong)

Year Position Contestant
1925 1 Arnold Ashworth
2 William Cadzon
3 Olwer Marshall and May Daley
1926 1 William A Bossence
2 Maisie Ramsay
3 Colin J Thomson
1927 1 Lorna Miller
2 May Daley
3 Mrs Florence Pryor
1928 1 Marjorie Lawrence
2 Alice Wells
3 Ernest Wilson
1929 records unavailable
1930 1 Miss Florence Erikson
2 Norman Menzies
3 Miss M Cumming
1931 1 Myra Hardenack
2 Eulalie Moore
3 Harold Murphy
1932 1 Anne Harvey
2 Charles E Lomas
3 Lola Edwards
1933 1 Ailsa McKenzie
2 John Dudley
3 Rene Craig and Mary Lilley

The Sun Aria (Royal South Street Competitions) [Ballarat]

Year Position Contestant
1924 1 Lawrence Power
2 Morva Davies
1925 1 Pauline Gallagher
1926 1 Edward Hocking
1927 1 Arnold Matters
1928 1 Nancy Marley
2 Florence Erikson
3 Sydney Holmes
1929 1 May Craven
1930 1 Norman Menzies
1931 1 Adele McKay
1932 1 Emilie Hooke
2 Nancy Studley
3 Etta Bernard and Jeanne Teychenne
1933 1 Newstead Rush
2 Beatrice Oakley
3 Joan Jones and William Laird
1934 1 Dennis Dowling
2 Hinemoa Rosieur
3 Alan Coad
1935 1 Nance Osborne
1936 1 Sylvia Fisher
1937 1 Joan Jones
1938 1 Alfredo Luizzi
2 Mavis Webster
3 Vera Hickenbotham
1939 1 Mavis Webster
1940 1 Joyce Ross
2 Frances Forbes
3 Vera Hickenbotham
1941 1 Amelia Scarce
2 Kathleen Seabrook
3 Frank Lasslett and Peggy Knibb
1942-1944 no contests
1945 1 John Lanigan
2 Jean Thompson
3 Patricia Howard
1946 1 Maxwell Cohen
2 Morris Williams
3 Patricia Howard and Robert Simmons
1947 1 Charles Skase
2 Keith Neilson
3 Nita Maughan
1948 1 Mary Miller
2 Joan Arnold
3 Robert Simmons
1949 1 Betna Pontin
2 Joan Arnold
3 Halinka de Tarczynska
1950 1 David Allen
Verona Cappadona

The Sun Aria (Bendigo)

Year Position Contestant
1925-1930 Not available
1931 1 Kathleen Carroll
2 Monica Miller
3 Godfrey Beckwith
1932 1 Miss M Butler
2 Nance Osborne
3 Joan Jones and Miss I Turner
1933 1 Jeanne Teychenne
2 Charles E Lomas
3 W Howling
1934 1 Margaret Black
2 Lena Worland and Gladys Richards
1935 1 Freda Northcote
2 Molly Hislop
3 Miss M Daniels and William Laird and
Miss S Richards


1965: photo of people lined up outside Allan's music shop to buy Sun Aria competition tickets

History: Royal South Street Society

About: Royal South Street Society


Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 January 2018 10:52  

Geelong district events

<< July 2022 >> 
 Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa  Su 
      1  2  3
  4  5  6  7  8  910