Schools Spectacular

Behind the scenes 2023 – digital display

This year's Fabulous Behind-the-scenes digital display features some of our most creative and innovative students and their work. We take pride in every student's contribution, celebrating individuality and artistic expression. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Symphony Riley

Hunter School of The Performing Arts

Symphony Riley


I’m a proud Wiradjuri women from Dubbo, Wiradjuri meaning ‘people of the three rivers’, the Macquarie, Lachlan, and Murrumbidgee. My heritage/Culture comes from my dad’s side, Peter Riley. My mob are also from Wellington NSW on my Grandmother’s side (Towney’s and Stanley’s) who raised her kids on the Wellington Common.  On my Grandfathers side (Riley’s) from Dubbo, we are related to Uncle Alexander  Riley known as Tracker Riley, who was my great, great  Grandfather’s uncle, the first Aboriginal person ranked as a Seargent in NSW Police Force.

I am currently the Vice President of the AECG at HSPA and a member of Milibah, where I learn traditional dance and culture of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Photo of Peter Riley's headshot and bio in the School's Spec program

Peter Riley's bio in the 1998 Schools Spectacular program 


Ollyvar Baker

Lithgow High School

Ollyvar Baker

I am a proud Wiradjuri man from the Lithgow area with heritage in the Ku-ring-gai area and I am performing with the NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dance Company. I completed my HSC this year including Music, Drama and Aboriginal Studies and have held the position of President of Junior AECG at Lithgow High school. I am excited to join the Army next year.

Aleasha Canino

Junee High School

Aleasha Canino

I am a proud Wiradjuri and Biripi woman, living on Wiradjuri Country. I am proud to be able to represent my school and mobs through this experience. I hope to make my balumbambal – my ancient ones, proud.

Kendra Hall

Chertsey Primary School

Kendra Hall

My mum passed on knowledge of deaf and Aboriginal culture to me. Auslan is my first language and signing helps me access the world. When people talk to me I have to work hard at understanding what they are saying, even with my cochlear. I can understand so much more when people sign to me.  At Chertsey all students and staff learn Auslan. I love when hearing people learn to sign to communicate with me.


Hannah Kitchener

Chertsey Primary School

Hannah Kitchener

My Aboriginal heritage comes from my grandfather and my dad. Growing up my dad would teach me and my siblings Bunjalung words. He also taught us about country. My culture is important part of who I am. Without my Aboriginal identity I would be a very different person. It is important to me to pass this knowledge and culture on to the next generation.

Ashton Mace

Armidale Secondary College

Ashton Mace

As a descendant of the Worimi and Anaiwan people, I am profoundly interested in learning more about the stories and history that surround my culture. Similarly, in my role as School captain I have thoroughly enjoyed engaging with community and leading my peers. This is my fifth Schools Spectacular and it's my pleasure to be able to contribute to such a fabulous show.

Alfred Thomas

Erskineville Public School

Alfred Thomas, with white ochre on his face, holding a didgeridoo

Alfred Thomas is a proud Dharug Boorooberongal man, who lives and goes to school on Gadigal country at Erskineville Public School. Alfred maintains his cultural connection through dance at Brolga Dance Academy with Aunty Jodie Choolburra-Welsh located in Redfern. Alfred loves spending time in the bush and is lucky enough to have spent time doing a lap of Australia with his family in their 4WD and caravan.  


  • Anaiwan
  • Barkindji
  • Biripi
  • Boandik
  • Bundjalung
  • Dharawal
  • Dharug
  • Dunghutti
  • Eora Mob
  • Gamilaraay
  • Gamilaroi
  • Gumbaynggirr
  • Gunditjmara
  • Gundungurra
  • Jerrinja tribe
  • Kamilaroi
  • Ngambri
  • Noongar Wadandi
  • Palawa 
  • Pitjantjatjara
  • Wailwan
  • Wiradjuri
  • Worimi
  • Worimi Biripi Nation, born and raised on Cammeraygal Country
  • Yankunytjatjara
  • Yuggera
  • Yuin nation
  • Yumaalaroi
  • Yuwalayaay


Creative voices

The Creative Voice category allowed students to submit original musical compositions. Submissions were outstanding. Special mention was made of Ming Li, Monique Raso and Reuben Winkler whose work samples can be heard below.



Duration: 3:00

By Ming Li, Normanhurst Boys High School

Describe your composition and tell us how it relates to the theme 'Fabulous'.

When I first heard about the theme, I thought of a wonderful and adventurous voyage out in the ocean. In an attempt to build the score around this idea, the piece is planned to have sessions of tension and release to mimic the movement of waves: some small, some large.

I chose for the composition to be orchestral, following a structure similar to a symphony orchestra. The start and end of the piece mark the beginning and end of the voyage, each going off with a bang in an attempt to captivate the audience and also to convey the message of the journey being adventurous and fabulous. The instruments used in the composition utilise call-and-response, unison, and much more as they work together in harmony. The structure of the piece is also laid out excitingly to pull the audience into the story that the piece is describing. There are two main melodies: the first one appears at the start and end of the piece and the second one appears in the middle. The first melody is written in a way that creates a feeling of tension, which is eventually released when the second melody comes by. The second melody conveys excitement and adventurousness, marking the climax of the journey, and also the piece. The first melody is used again after the second melody, but this time, it modulates two times to create tension, which is finally released at the end of the piece, marking the fantastic end of the voyage and the composition. 

Therefore, through the fabulous use of structure, tension-and-release, instruments, etc., my composition conveys a sense of fabulousness, and at the same time, narrates an adventurous story that is also built on the theme, 'Fabulous'.

Describe the process of creating your composition?

When composing the piece, I watched videos of boats and ships sailing across seas and oceans to better understand what it would feel like to be on an exciting voyage, as it corresponds to my approach to the theme, 'Fabulous'. Once I started writing the first note down, everything else just came naturally, and it felt like I was copying and transcribing a tune that was already playing in my head. After composing little sections of the piece, I would go back and play the composition from the start, close my eyes and imagine myself sailing on a boat through an ocean. If the composition felt natural to what I was imagining, I would keep it. If it felt like there were some places that didn't fit what I was expecting or clashed with my imagination of a voyage, I would change or rewrite that section until it resembled my vision of a voyage. I repeated this process until I finished the piece and was happy with how it came out.

Some parts of the composition came from random improvised tunes I hummed in the shower or my piano improvisations.

I composed 90% of the composition during my stay in China during the Term 2 holiday.

I spent around 5 days on the composition.

I actually composed way more than what I have submitted, since I forgot the existence of a 3-minute time limit.


New Day

Duration: 3:44

By Monique Raso, Northern Beaches Secondary College Freshwater Senior Campus

Describe your composition and tell us how it relates to the theme 'Fabulous'.

My song 'New Day' is a pop ballad about giving yourself the opportunity for a chance to let go of all the worries, to know that everything will be ok and to get back up even stronger and show how fabulous you are and the strength you have, even life throws challenges your way. Instruments used in this song are: lead vocals, backing vocals, piano, violins, cello, synth bass and drums.

Describe the process of creating your composition?

The process behind creating my composition was firstly, I wrote the lyrics, then played around with a few chords on the piano and then started to come up with melodies for the vocals lastly. After finalising the song, I then decided to go to the local studio to get 'New Day' produced. During the studio session, I worked alongside the producer to create the vision of this song and had a say in what instruments were going to be included and figuring out the harmonies to accompany the lead vocals.

I wrote 'New day' with the aim to inspire and share this message to so many people, to let them know that its ok you'll definitely get through the struggles your battling with, as everyday is a new chance for a new start in becoming fabulous, hold onto that hope.


More, Bigger ... Fabulous!

Duration: 2:59

By Reuben Winkler, Fort Street High School

Describe your composition and tell us how it relates to the theme 'Fabulous'.

I used an orchestral setup with a choir for the power as the intensity increases throughout the piece. This piece conveys the increasing intensity of acts and performances throughout the years, using techniques such as the gradual increase in dynamic, bringing in the brass and timpani and the accelerandos bringing the tempo from 120 to over 200 bpm. The stylistic changes show the varied acts throughout the School Spectaculars over the years.

Describe the process of creating your composition?

I used the piano for base ideas, and then applied melodic inversion to the base melody. I devoted a part of the piece to feature each section, as well as a heavy focus on the timpani. Most of all, I just did what was natural and what my ears and brain told me to do.