Our Choir was started by two incredible women with a passion to see the “Spirit of ANZAC” passed on to the next generation, to give regional and rural young people opportunities and to inspire and develop young leaders through the arts and through commemoration. They were also passionate to see veteran and current serving families supported giving the children a place to belong and peers that they could keep regardless of where they were posted.
Rhondda Vanzella, OAM
Rhondda is a passionate and inspirational visionary and pioneer for woman and young leaders in Australia. Not only is she a well respected mentor to many, she is also often called upon as a mentor and confidant to state and federal politicians and other public figures.
Although officially “retired”, Rhondda is very involved in her local community and other non-profit organisations. Her vast experience and success in business, politics and community work has given her the ability to give voice to those who have neither voice nor influence and a strong advocate for woman in leadership positions.
Rhondda has spent most of her life in business “in the bush” and rural communities and she has many achievements worth noting. Rhondda’s whole life has been one of service to community and she has also masterminded many community events.
Rhondda was Founding Co-ordinator of the National Student Leadership Forum on Faith & Values; Girl Guides, and CWA have also benefitted from her energy with promotional campaigns and major fund-raising.
She was instrumental in initiating a formalised interaction between day girls and country boarders at Abbotsleigh School for Girls, now known as the City Country Family Scheme, now the norm across many Sydney-based boarding schools. She was also the driving force behind the construction of the first foot bridge built across the Pacific Highway for school children.
Rhondda has walked the Kokoda track 3 times and, in 2012, driven by her passion to leave a legacy for her grandchildren to remember her late husband’s military service, Rhondda initiated the highly successful Kangaroo March Centenary Re-enactment March for the Century of Anzac. Forming an organising committee, she then (after being told it could not be done) managed the process to completion in September/October, 2015. Rhondda also did the march herself, walking over 500kms through the 33 towns enroute from Wagga to Campbelltown re-tracing the steps of the original Kangaroos of 1915.
Rhondda has a strong belief system that is founded in personal sacrifice and idealism - of farming, small business, families and the importance of communities being deeply rooted in a sense of knowing what is right from wrong.
In 2009 Rhondda was awarded the OAM for her services to community work.
Rhondda is the Co-Founder and President of the The OZY Youth Choir Honouring Defence Service, Inc., Chair and State President, NSW War Widows Guild and Chair, Honouring Women United By Defence Service (HWUDS) Committee.
A leading online choir specialist with a diploma in Internet Marketing, OJ is also an educator, musician, songwriter, speaker, conductor and professional speaking and performance coach.
OJ has spoken on both large and small stages, lead many choirs, had her compositions performed on TV, at the Australian War Memorial, Anzac Memorial Sydney, Martin Place Cenotaph, NSW Parliament House, the French Embassy, Canberra and as command performances at NSW Government House.
Her choirs have sung on stages such as the Opening of Invictus Games Sydney with Cate Cebrano, Ian Moss, Laura Wright and Lee Kernaghan, and to paying audiences such as with The Voice winner, Harrison Craig, as part of his "Kings of Vegas" tour.
Her choirs has been recorded in the studios of music legends such as Garth Porter, Lee Kernaghan, Australian Idol winner, Damien Leith, and The Wiggles. She has filmed music videos at the Australian War Memorial and has written/directed productions & founded many choirs & orchestras both in Australia and overseas.
As the last event for the Centenary of Anzac, OJ took 26 young people from The OZY Youth Choir Honouring Defence Service on a singing remembrance tour of The Western Front. OJ has also been on the organising committees of a number of significant projects such as the Kangaroo March Centenary Re-Enactment of 2015. It was whilst working on this project that Rhondda and OJ started the choir.
OJ believes everyone has a song inside them that needs to be sung and has touched the lives of many young people over the last 30 years and continues to do so on a daily basis. They draw strength from her inspiration and her special magic of bringing music and history together to inspire and develop young leaders. OJ has a unique ability to motivate, coach and inspire people of all ages to work together to reach their full potential and to succeed in whatever they do.
OJ has experienced a number of personal challenges & through this, has developed a unique system that she teaches young people to overcome obstacles & become problem solvers. She is a constant source of inspiration to those around her and she has a deep conviction that through service to others, she will leave a stronger, better world for the next generation of young people she is so passionate about.
OJ is the Co-Founder, Vice-President & Creative Director of The OZY Youth Choir Honouring Defence Service, Inc. She is also the Event Coordinator and on the Committee for Honouring Women United by Defence Service (HWUDS) planning committee and works closely with a number of Ex-service organisations to support veterans and families through music and technology.