The Brindabella Chorus from Canberra.
Choirs Eisteddfod convener Dianne Anderson says this year will be her seventh and final event.
''I've got to put my foot down,'' she says. ''It's so much work.''
She's hoping to find someone willing to take on the task soon. Meanwhile, she is preparing for the two-day event, which will see 24 ACT and 19 interstate choirs competing across a range of ages and choral categories for a total of $24,000 in prizemoney. This helps attract choirs to the competition. The Eisteddfod relies on sponsorship for most of its funds and the support of the ACT government enables the event to be held at Llewellyn Hall.
The government also sponsors a new multicultural category this year, with a $1500 first prize for two songs sung in a language other than English. Seven choirs are competing in this category, including Bel Cantare, an Indonesian choir from Sydney, and Canberra Italian choir Dante Musica Viva.
Other new sections don't have as many entries: a new choirs section has only two (one withdrew) and a showcase section for performing a costumed selection from a musical only has one (one withdrew).
Among the choirs competing in the Open Section are Concordis and the Divine Divas of Sunbury, both from Melbourne. Ngunnawal Primary School is entering two choirs, each with about 90 students.
Anderson says many choirs aren't comfortable with the idea of competing and she thinks it should be just as accepted in the arts as it is in sport - especially given the popularity of such television shows as The Voice and Australia's Got Talent. ''It gives people a goal to work towards.''
The eisteddfod began in 1938 and ran until 1941, resuming in 1955 and continuing ever since.
''Volunteers keep it going,'' Anderson says.
The number of choirs participating changes from year to year but the event has grown in size under Anderson.
''When I took over there were no interstate choirs,'' she says. The adjudicators will be George Torbay, who was one of the judges on the reality TV show Battle of the Choirs, and Jenny Moon, head of music at Hillcrest Christian College in Queensland. Being judged and receiving constructive feedback from the adjudicators helps both the choirs and their conductors to improve, she says.
Anderson is a church organist and thinks the decline in church attendance has meant people have fewer opportunities to sing together as a community. She thinks this might be one of the reasons for the continuing popularity of choirs and of events such as the eisteddfod (which also includes orchestral, instrumental, speech and drama sections).
Anderson will be looking for someone on the weekend to take over the organisation of next year's eisteddfod; but says she would be happy to serve on the committee. For now, though, she's dedicated to making this year's event a success.
CHOIRS EISTEDDFOD 2013
The Australian National Eisteddfod on August 23, 24 at Llewellyn Hall. Tickets $15-$120. See Nationaleisteddfod.org.au for details. Bookings at Ticketek.com.au