Newsroom

David Campbell and Livinia Nixon in Christmas baubles

Meet your 2020 hosts

  Livinia Nixon will make her co-host debut at this year’s Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight, teaming up with fan-favourite David Campbell for a night of Christmas cheer.  “I am thrilled to be involved in my first Carols by Candlelight alongside David, in what has truly been a year like no other,” Livinia said. “There has been so much hardship and struggle, and to quote one of my favourite carols, ‘We need a little Christmas’. I’m hoping we can help people focus on the joy of Christmas and what we have to be thankful for.” Carols by Candlelight will look a little different this year, with no audience on site due to public health considerations. Instead, we invite you all to pull out the picnic rug, settle in front of the TV and spend #carolsathome with us this Christmas Eve. “I always love this time of year. I think this year, more than ever, we all need to celebrate the festive season with joy, with loved ones and with carols,” David said. “It will be different not seeing the crowd holding candles up in the air, or the kids singing along, but this Christmas Eve will be as magical as ever. And remember, Santa Claus and his reindeers have special permission to travel to every country in the world to spread the Christmas cheer.” Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight will air live from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl from 8pm AEST, December 24 on Channel Nine. Fans who are blind or have low vision can tune in to their local Vision Australia Radio service to listen to our audio described broadcast. Sign up to the Carols Club for further updates.  27 Nov 2020
Carols choir waving to audience

The countdown is on for Carols by…

With only 50 days until Christmas Eve, the countdown is on for Vision Australia’s beloved Carols by Candlelight from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The event is working closely with broadcast partner, Channel Nine, to produce a magical Carols by Candlelight from the Bowl stage for the millions of people who tune in from around the country. A significant part of Australia’s Christmas tradition, this year the event will look a little different with no audience on site due to concerns about public health. After working with our stakeholders on the possible options for this year’s event, and using the most up to date public health advice available, Vision Australia has taken the tough decision to change the way this event comes to life due to the uncertainty around COVID-19. Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton understands Carols by Candlelight is an event near and dear to so many Australians, but having a healthy and COVID-free Christmas remains the top priority, as well as the safety of the public, its staff and the many volunteers who support the event. ‘In our 83 years this is the only time we’ve had to do this so it’s with the utmost disappointment that we’ve had to make this decision,’ Mr Hooton said. ‘While everyone involved would have loved to have had a crowd this year at Carols by Candlelight, we do urge our loyal fans to still be part of the big night with their family and friends from the comfort of their lounge rooms or backyards.’ Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne always attracts Australia’s music theatre’s brightest stars and this year is no exception. Audiences are encouraged to deck their living rooms with tinsel, leave out some biscuits for Santa, a carrot for Rudolph, and settle in front of the TV to sing along with the star-studded line-up who will grace the Sidney Myer Music Bowl stage. Mister Hooton said, ‘Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate, but also to raise money to help children who are blind or have low vision to live the life they choose. ‘Next year, we look forward to welcoming back the thousands of people who make the annual pilgrimage to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, enjoying Christmas Eve together again under candlelit skies,’ said Mr Hooton. Channel Nine’s Director of Television, Michael Healy said, ‘In a year like no other, our broadcast of this year’s Carols by Candlelight will be more special than ever before. Viewers can hope to see all their favourite Carols stars they’ve come to expect as well as some exciting new faces bringing you a magical performance of the sounds of Christmas.' For all those who usually attend the event in person, we encourage you to tune in to Channel Nine and enjoy what we know is going to be another wonderful Christmas Eve Carols performed by a roll call of Australia’s best artists.’ Arts Centre Melbourne CEO, Claire Spencer, AM said 'Carols at the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl is a cherished Melbourne tradition. As a long standing partner of Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight, Arts Centre Melbourne would have dearly loved to have welcomed a live audience to the Bowl as a powerful and positive symbol of Melbourne’s recovery. We are respectful of the decision and will continue to work closely with Channel 9 to ensure an amazing Christmas spectacle.’ The full line-up will be announced closer to the event. Read the full media release here. Sign up to the Carols Club here.  04 Nov 2020
Paul next to piano

A star on the rise!

Paul Kapeleris’ life changed in an instant when his musical career skyrocketed to fame after an extraordinary performance of Andra Day’s Rise Up on popular television program, Australia’s Got Talent earlier this year. The now 23 year old with the angelic voice and exceptional piano playing skills is the 2019 Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador. The talented musician was born with only 15%; he now only has 5% vision which is slowly deteriorating. Paul found a new meaning for life when his mother encouraged him to start piano lessons at the age of eight. ‘’It was very difficult as I couldn’t see the notes. Basically my teacher told me to practice and feel the notes with my eyes closed. The piano has a set structure so I don’t have to look to play the piano anymore. There’s a lot of muscle memory going on,’’ Paul explained. From a young age, Paul would watch talent shows on television such as X Factor and Australian Idol, and would dream of doing something similar as he grew up. To Paul, music was what gave him the confidence and freedom to truly be himself. Earlier this year, Paul completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in music, which came after years of dedication to the piano and music. Inspired by his mum, music teachers and professors, Kapeleris has had the privilege to learn from a variety of people over the years. Kapeleris finds inspiration across the music industry with his idols being Sam Smith and Chris Stapleton for their ability to connect with their music and audience. ‘’I love Ed Sheeran’s songwriting ability, and Gary LeVox and Tori Kelly for the absolutely stunning vocals. All of these incredible artists have sculpted my own artistry in some way, and I am eternally grateful for their drive and passion to make music.’’ As Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador, Kapeleris hopes to provide inspiration to those who don’t think they are good enough or have what it takes. ‘’Vision Australia has allowed me to live a life I would never have been able to live otherwise. They have provided me with support, got me out of the house with young adult social activities, and have taught me life skills through occupational therapy. Interacting with other people who have vision impairments is an enriching experience that, for me, would only have been possible through Vision Australia.’’ ‘’As someone who has lived with a severe, degenerative vision impairment for all of my life, it means the absolute world to be given this opportunity. We are strong. We are powerful and can do anything.’’ ‘’It is quite daunting knowing that I will be performing in front of an audience of millions of people on Christmas Eve. Not being able to see anything helps! It’s just me and that piano on the stage.’’ The rising-star is treating this journey as something special, something to be cherished with every second . Alongside writing his own music, Kapeleris is willing to take on every opportunity that comes his way, he’s going to grab it with both hands and never let go!     13 Nov 2019
Luna on the playground

She's as bright as the moon...

We’d like to introduce you to someone really special!   Luna is nearly three years old and has approximately 10% vision.   “I had never been around a child who has special needs. When Luna was born it was hard as I just wanted to be in her shoes so she didn’t have to go through what she was dealing with.’’   Sarah was just 19 when she had Luna. When Luna was three months old, she had an MRI scan which showed that she had Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, Nystagmus (where her eyes shake) and one eye turned in. There were also concerns that Luna could have pituitary gland problems.   Luna’s dad Jake knew something wasn’t quite right when he noticed Luna wasn’t focusing on certain objects such as the television and the hanging mobile above her bed.   With Luna being their only child he didn’t have much of a reference, but when he spotted other children and their ability to focus, Jake and Sarah decided to speak to a professional about their daughter.   Once Luna had been diagnosed, Sarah and Jake reached out to Vision Australia to seek support.   Luna is now a happy girl who is comfortable at home but still struggles when she is in a new environment.   The hardest thing for Sarah and Jake is not knowing what the future will hold for their daughter.   “We don’t know if Luna is going to need full time help when she’s 30 years old. It’s difficult not knowing what we’re going to be needing in the future to give her an opportunity to live a full and wonderful life.”     13 Nov 2019
4-yr-old Alfie sits at the playground

A story of hope and determination

“I stared intently into my second baby Alfie’s eyes, desperately trying to remember if it was something I’d seen before. ‘I’m being silly,’ I told myself and picked him up again, his warm face resting up against mine.” “It was a few weeks later I was looking adoringly into those same eyes when I saw it again, his eyes were constantly ‘flickering’. It was no longer a surprise as I was noticing it all the time now.” Diana Fisk, mother to William (6) and Alfie (4) recalls her first few months with Alfie with a heavy heart but, as Alfie prepares for kinder next year, she and husband Rob have a new determination and a positive outlook on the amazing things that Alfie will be able to achieve. After Alfie was diagnosed with Nystagmus – a condition of involuntary (or voluntary, in rare cases) eye movement, that may result in reduced or limited vision – there were tears, but surprisingly, through those tears came something different. “This challenge could shape him in 
a way we never could have imagined.” The sadness and fear started shifting for Diana and her husband Rob as they realised that along with this diagnosis there was the hope of something new. They decided not to think about the limitations and focus on empowering Alfie. “We now understood the challenge that had been dealt to our little boy,” Rob says. They made a decision right there and then that they would take his lead on the life he would live. He would literally be viewing the world in a different way, and they could only imagine what he would be capable of with that unique perspective. To help accomplish that, the family reached out to Vision Australia, firstly to get support and helpful information via its website and more recently to help to prepare Alfie for his first big milestone – going to kinder next year. Alfie’s Vision Australia specialist Sue, will visit Alfie at home regularly and will also go along to the kinder with the family to talk to the staff, explore the school and visit the classroom to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible for Alfie. “He can’t see things in the distance, so Sue and the teaching staff will also ensure he has a front-row seat in the classroom!,” Diana adds. And, the Vision Australia team will be there for Alfie, as he discovers his personal challenges. Support varies, from orientation and mobility training, provision of Feelix library kits, his education and even helping with employment. “It’s amazing to have such expertise available to ensure that Alfie is able to fulfil any dream that he may have growing up,” says Diana as she reaches out to the Australian community. “With your help to support Vision Australia, fears can be replaced by determination, by pride and by hope.”   Alfie with Louise from the Feelix Library  “We now 
understood 
the challenge that had been dealt to our 
little boy.” 29 Nov 2018
Hi-5 perform at Carols

10 of the Best Carols to Sing By…

  Christmas Carols have been around almost as long as the Christian music tradition - around 1600 years! For the last 80 years we have been celebrating the best and most popular songs written to celebrate this special time of year, and in 2018 you are sure to hear some of your favourites. Here are ten of Australia’s most beloved Christmas Carols. Deck the Halls The melody for this popular Welsh carol dates all the way back to the sixteenth century, although the English words as we know them today appeared in 1877. Believe it or not, this carol is where the phrase ‘tis the season’ originated, and remains popular among carol lovers young and old alike, despite some of the arguably silly lyrics. Fa la la la la, la la la la! Hark the Herald Angels Sing Denis Walter, Marina Prior and Debra Bryne have all nailed this traditional English carol in the history of Carols by Candlelight. The original version from 1739 was much slower and somber than how we are used to hearing it today! The modern tune is based on a work called Festgesang by popular composer Felix Mendelssohn, and is an extremely popular song included in almost all carols performances. We love the soaring soprano descant in the last verse. O Come All Ye Faithful The earliest version of this carol dates back to the early 1600s, and no one really knows who composed the original. The full version has NINE verses, though we usually only hear the first four. The popular arrangement that we all recognise, by composer David Willcocks, was published in 1961. Everyone loves singing along particularly in the chorus where the words ‘oh come let us adore him’ get louder and louder as we sing out with joy! Our favourite performance has to be from 2014 when Marina Prior and David Hobson knocked it out of the Bowl! O Holy Night O Holy Night is a 19th Century French carol popularised in the 1990s and early 2000s by singers such as Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, and is almost always performed by a soloist. It is a celebration of light and hope with a range that would challenge even a professional singer. Silvie Paladino belts this one out like a champ! Silent Night One of the more recent traditional carols, Silent Night was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber, and performed for the first time in a small Austrian town called Obendorf. Since then, the song has become one of the most popular carols among people all over the world. The 1935 version recorded by American singer and actor Bing Crosby is the third most best selling single of all time! We Wish You a Merry Christmas The origin of this Christmas carol lies in the English tradition where wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve. ‘Figgy pudding’ as described in the song is similar to our modern-day Christmas puddings. Written in 1935, this song with its simple, memorable lyrics now has many different versions and is one of the most popular Christmas songs sung by children all around the world. Ding Dong Merrily on High We love this joyful carol for the melodic refrain, “Glooo-or-or-or-or-or-oooor-or-or-or-or-or-oooor-ia!”, imitating the sound of church bells tolling out the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The tune to this carol is another early music piece dating from the 1500s, while the lyrics, first published in 1924, are practically modern. This song, with its intricate harmonies, is often performed by the choir at Carols By Candlelight - time for them to shine! Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Rudolph’s song was written in 1949 by Johnny Marks, the brother-in-law of Rudolph’s original creator, Robert L. May. Since then it has been performed and recorded by various popular artists such as Bing Crosby and Michael Buble. While some might call it a song just for children, we know that kids and adults alike continue to love Rudolph’s performance every year at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl! Joy to the World Joy to the World was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America throughout the 20th Century. It has appeared on perhaps more Christmas albums by solo artists than any other song, having been recorded by Andy Williams, the Supremes, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, Pat Boone, Perry Como, Vic Damone, Mariah Carey and the acapella group Pentatonix, as well as many more. Sing along to it this year and feel the joy!    10.  All I Want for Christmas Is You Can you believe this song was first performed in 1994? Perhaps the most popular Christmas song of modern times, Mariah Carey’s bopping R&B number describes the need we all feel to be with our families at Christmas as more important than any gifts we could receive. Dami Im stunned everyone in 2016 with her incredible rendition at Carols by Candlelight.   Dami Im performed in 2016 27 Nov 2018
Three Vision Australia volunteers strike a pose

The heart and soul of our community

“If we didn’t go to Carols, it would be like there wasn’t any Christmas” – Paul Worsnop, Volunteer The Worsnops are a family with a wealth of spirit, nurtured by boundless generosity.  They give because they want to, and they expect nothing in return.  Volunteers like these are the heart and soul of our community. Lifelong volunteer, Paul Worsnop, is a catalyst of continuing the family tradition of volunteering at Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight.  This year, Paul and his older brother Christopher will celebrate 45 years since the Worsnop family took over the running of one of the merchandise stalls, with their parents and grandmother.    Left to right: James, Pete Smith, Paul, Christopher, Samuel, John, Sandy, Katherine, Nathan    The Worsnop team now consists of 10 volunteers ranging in age from 60 years to 12 months old, comprising children, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews and grandchildren, so the team always has plenty of support. “It’s part of our upbringing, and as we get older, we continue to encourage the younger generation to pay it forward.” “The gift that Vision Australia has given to Melbourne and Australia over the years, is returned not only by the generous giving to the cause of Vision Australia, but the community’s growing understanding of what it means to be blind or have low vision,” adds Paul. Incredible volunteers like the Worsnops are so vital in bringing the event to life, and we can’t thank them enough! 09 Nov 2018
Family of four sitting outside carols by candlelight performance

The best Christmas Eve in town!

Carols by Candlelight is the perfect way to spend your Christmas Eve - here’s why. The festive season is fast approaching and parents everywhere are wondering how they’re going to keep their kids calm during the Christmas Eve hype. Well, there’s no need to stress…   Carols by Candlelight has been a classic part of the Aussie Christmas experience since its inception in 1938. Here’s why it’s the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit! It distracts the kids No night of the year is as exciting for the kids as Christmas Eve. What’s Santa going to bring? Will he make it? What if he gets stuck in the chimney? Carols keep that excitement in check and play to that love of Christmas. A picnic, classic Christmas songs and an evening out will keep the kids busy, and there are plenty of other activities available in our Christmas Festival. From the moment the gates open, there’ll be plenty of excitement and fun, and the best part is, the kids will doze off to sleep in a heartbeat when you get home! Family time Christmas is about family, and Carols is the perfect way to make sure you get quality time with your loved ones before the New Year hits and everyone has to head back to work. Bring the whole crew down for the perfect gathering on the lawn. It's about giving Christmas is all about giving, and so is Carols! The event raises vital funds and awareness for Vision Australia. Their children’s services support kids who are blind or have low vision to help them live the life they choose. Every dollar makes a huge difference, and this year, we’ll be making Christmas even brighter! Keep an eye out for your chance to make an impact. The tunes... No matter the year, the Carols line-up means the songs themselves are beautiful. From the famous Denis Walter, who has been performing at Carols for more than 30 years, to new sensations like Anthony Callea, the performers on the show will have you singing your heart out. What are you waiting for? Book your tickets now! Sign up for the Carols Club       29 Oct 2018