About the Eisteddfod
The Hamilton Eisteddfod is one of the longest-running eisteddfods in Victoria and has developed a reputation of excellence.
Comprising Music, Dance and Speech & Drama disciplines, this event provides an opportunity for artists to perform in front of an audience and to have their performance assessed by professional adjudicators of the highest calibre.
Each year, the Hamilton Eisteddfod attracts visitors and competitors to Hamilton in Victoria’s Western District, to nurture and celebrate talent and delight in two weeks of performing arts. Visitors travel from throughout regional Victoria, South Australia, Melbourne and interstate to enjoy the experience at the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre.
Competition is divided into approximately 100 Music sections, 80 Dance sections and 20 Speech & Drama sections, and provides opportunities for competitors of primary school age through to adults.
Covering a broad range of genres from classical to popular, the Hamilton Eisteddfod offers a breadth and variety not always seen in regional competitions.
2022 Eisteddfod Snapshot
Speech & Drama Sections
Prize Money, trophies, medals, awards & scholarships
The City of Hamilton Eisteddfod Inc is a not-for-profit association made up of dedicated volunteers who plan, organise and run the Hamilton Eisteddfod each year.
If you are interested in supporting the Hamilton Eisteddfod, there are several ways in which you can become involved. Visit the Support Us page for details.
To get in touch with the committee, find our contact details on the Contact Us page.
2023 Committee Members
Jane Van Herpen
History of the Hamilton Eisteddfod
The Hamilton Eisteddfod is approaching sixty years of competition. From humble beginnings to the celebrated event of today, the Eisteddfod has grown with musical trends, innovations and interests. Below are some highlights from our history.
The first annual Hamilton Eisteddfod was run by the Hamilton Arts Council in 1963. The Eisteddfod included 21 sections of piano, vocal, choral and instrumental disciplines. As a sign of interest at the time, dedicated piano accordion sections were also included, attracting competitors from as far as Kerang, Naracoorte, Ararat, Horsham, Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne.
In 1971, tap dance and ballet were added to the competition, beginning a long history of dance at the Hamilton Eisteddfod. The number of dance competitors and sections grew quickly in the decade that followed. Electone sections were also introduced in the 1970s (Hamilton is one of the few Eisteddfods in Australia which offers Electone competitions today).
In 1981, the ‘instrumental’ sections were divided into separate sections for strings, woodwind and brass – an indication of the popularity of orchestral instruments at the time. The Eisteddfod now spanned 8 days of competition, and the number of competitors continued to grow, reaching 980 entries in 1988 (600 of which were ballet entries).
1991 saw the renovation of the Hamilton Town Hall into the Performing Arts Centre. Now a prominent annual event, the Hamilton Eisteddfod held both the last booking in the Town Hall, and the first in the new PAC. Instrumental groups gained prominence in the 1990s, including Stage Bands, Concert Bands, Orchestras, and Rock Groups.
The number of sections in the Hamilton Eisteddfod had grown to 193 by the year 2000. This became a decade of innovation for the committee, as they sought new ways to simplify administration of this flourishing event. In 2006, the first Hamilton Eisteddfod website was launched, allowing documents to be distributed online.
As well as the introduction of contemporary sections such as ‘Animated Movie Vocal Solo’ and ‘Contemporary Guitar’, another modern leap for the Eisteddfod came in the form of the GENI/Stardom online entry system. In 2016, the Committee launched a project to consider ways to future-proof the Eisteddfod. As part of the competition’s growth, 2019 saw the introduction of the first Speech & Drama sections in the Hamilton Eisteddfod.
A glance at the past: cover of the 1965 Schedule
50-Year Commemorative History
For an in-depth look back on the first fifty years of the Hamilton Eisteddfod, purchase a copy of our commemorative book. Published in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hamilton Eisteddfod, this hard-cover book includes dates and milestones, official records and personal reflections.
Hamilton Eisteddfod: 50 Years of Music and Dance 1962-2012
Authors: Marie Robinson, Diane Luhrs, Bryan Woodward, Margaret Rutter, Linley Bramall and Mishka Greenberger.
Publisher: The City of Hamilton Eisteddfod Inc (2012)
Every year, the Hamilton Eisteddfod committee seeks adjudicators who will provide expert and informed critiques of performances, at the same time offering encouragement and guidance to competitors.
The Hamilton Eisteddfod is fortunate to attract experienced adjudicators in their fields of music, dance and speech and drama.
Many adjudicators have been nationally or internationally acclaimed musicians and dancers, who bring their valuable experience and guidance to the competition.
Below is a list of past adjudicators for the Hamilton Eisteddfod.
Dr Kenji Fujimura is an internationally-acclaimed pianist and chamber musician, as well as a multi-award-winning composer. His works have been performed throughout Australasia, USA, Romania, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Gabrielle commenced her career as a Classical ballet dancer with the WA Ballet Company in the 1980s. In 1992, she established Dance Central, a successful dance studio in Perth.
Gabrielle is now a National Ballet Examiner for the Australian Institute of Classical Dance.
Speech & Drama
Louise Le Nay
Louise began her working life as an actor, after graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). She worked in theatre, TV and film, and is still recognised for her role as Sandy, the Top Dog on Prisoner. She has worked as a writer and script editor on many TV shows.
No competition was held in 2021
No competition was held in 2020
PhD, MA, BA. Member of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, a freelance teacher, university lecturer, composer and conductor.
Chris guest teaches and adjudicates all over Australia and New Zealand and loves to share his knowledge of dance and the professional industry to aspiring young performers.
Speech & Drama
Doug Van Herpen
Doug brings to this role 35 years’ experience as a secondary school English teacher, including 25 years of teaching year 12 English. Doug was involved in many debates and public speaking events as a participant, coach and adjudicator.
Prof. Rob McWilliams
Ph.D., M.Mus., B. Mus.Ed Internationally accomplished musician, conductor, and educator. Prof. McWilliams holds a Ph.D. in Music/Music Education from the University of Minnesota. Currently works for Yamaha Music Australia.
Debbie is an experienced adjudicator, having judged many competitions over many years. Debbie trained at the Australian Ballet School and has been a mentor for the Royal Academy of Dance.
Monte holds an international reputation as a conductor, adjudicator and lecturer, contributing regularly to music education through conferences, publications, professional development, and master classes.
Jillanne has been teaching for 39 years, including at Sharon Lawrence Dancers, Dancescapes, Helen Curwood and Kerryn Leanne School of Dance. She began teaching RAD Vocational Graded students at Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS) in 2009.
A conductor of considerable experience in genres such as Choral, Orchestral, Opera and Ballet Music. Experienced Music Director, Music Arranger, Chorus Master and Orchestra Manager.
Donna De Paoli
Donna is a respected choreographer and teacher within the performing arts industry. She is a fully registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance since 1986.
A respected examiner, adjudicator, lecturer and author.
Grad Dip – Education, Grad Cert – Visual and Performing Arts, B.A, Diploma of ‘Dance’ Australian Ballet School, Royal Academy of Dancing ‘Teachers’ Certificate. Brian’s dance school, The Brian Nolan Academy of Dance is located in Melbourne.
Lecturer in Aural Studies and Topics in Musicology – Music Theatre and Cabaret at the Conservatorium of Music and the VCA at the University of Melbourne.
Debbie trained at the Australian Ballet School, studied in Russia, London, Europe and America and has been a mentor for the Royal Academy of Dance.