The Radio Community Chest Incorporated is inseparably connected with its founder Frank Grose MBE.
Frank Grose was a pioneer of broadcasting from 1926 to 1965, and as few people only knew his surname, he was known on radio and universally as “Uncle Frank”, bringing comfort, inspiration and guidance to those in need. He held special appeals in times of national tragedy, and received tons of clothing, large amounts of money and other items to help the unfortunate.
In 1941 Frank Grose started the annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah by the Combined Churches Choir. Because of his position of leadership in the community and his own example, he was able to persuade many of Sydney’s top singers and performers to appear at the 1,613 concerts he arranged and presented over 15 years. He gave top priority to helping the poor and distressed.
In 1951, the charity name was changed to The Radio Community Chest.
In 1981 and 1982 the Choir performed its season in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. Peter Kneeshaw AM became the Choir’s Organist and Assistant Conductor in 1983 (retired 2021).
In 2008 and 2009 the Choir presented Messiah at the City Recital Hall. Tim Chung was appointed the Choir’s Conductor in 2009.
As a result of the outstanding performances of the Choir in its 2012 season, an invitation was extended for choir members to participate in a combined international choir to sing Messiah-Refreshed in the Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Centre, New York. These performances took place in December, 2013 under the baton of Jonathan Griffith DMA, the Distinguished Concerts International New York‘s Principal Conductor, and with a full concert orchestra. Twenty-four choristers of the Radio Community Chest Combined Churches Choir participated in 2013; then seven more choristers joined the DCINY choir in 2014, with ongoing invitations to choristers to participate in the following years.
There were no performances of the Choir in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. In 2020 for the 80th anniversary of Radio Community Chest Handel’s Messiah, a CD of our composite historical Messiah was created using recordings from 1962 t0 2019.
Mark Quarmby became the Choir’s organist in 2022.
The principal activity of Incorporated today is the annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah and any surpluses are used to promote our cultural work and to assist needy persons in the Sydney region.
Over the years the Choir has comprised many hundreds of voices from churches of all denominations. Nowadays these choristers are joined by singers from all over Sydney who are interested in singing the classic Handel oratorio. Since the inauguration of the annual presentation of Messiah, it has been the policy to give young singers the opportunity to sing the principal roles.
The choir is usually accompanied by a professional orchestra, the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ and soloists. Funds raised are used for charity and to benefit cultural activities and needy causes in the Sydney region.