KNOW YOUR CHOIR - A profile of Linda White

KNOW YOUR CHOIR – A profile of Linda White

Canberra in the early fifties, when I and my three siblings were born, was a small country town. My parents met here after the war, my father a public servant and my mother the first dressmaking teacher at the Canberra Technical College. Schooled at Forrest Primary and Telopea Park High School, I was especially interested in French and Art.

At the ANU I majored in Linguistics and French which led to a BA.  I took some time off half way through my degree to backpack around Europe with my sister. We found our way to Perugia and enrolled in a short Italian course. My love of the Italian language was born. When I returned to the ANU, Italian had just been introduced and so I was able to study a unit as part of my degree with David Woolf and Anna Ravano. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to Italy for a year which I took up after completing a diploma of Education.

Italy in 1976-77 was an interesting place in the so-called “anni di piombo” [‘years of lead’ – a period of social and political turmoil]. I chose to study art history at Florence University. I concentrated on learning to speak Italian with the students I met. Accommodation was expensive and so I shared with two other students: one from Catanzaro and the other from Bari. We were always broke and cold but I learned that a plate of ceci (chick peas) and a glass of wine was the cheapest lunch around and that pasta, bread and tinned tomatoes were the cheapest option for home cooking because the price on them was controlled. Foreshadowing the DMV choir I learnt to sing Bella Ciao, Bandiera Rossa and Sebben’ che siamo donne from my fellow students who loved to sing along to the guitar in the evenings. In the summer I worked as a ragazza alla pari (au pair girl) looking after two children.

Back in Australia I started my teaching career at Drummoyne Boys’ High in Sydney which had many children of Italian parents. In 1979 I was contacted by my ANU Italian acquaintances who asked me to write an Italian course for the ACT Senior Secondary Colleges because Dickson College wanted to introduce Italian as a subject and the previous attempt to get a course approved had failed. My course proposal was successful, with secretarial help from Myriam Bonazzi, so I found myself back in Canberra teaching Italian and French. French teaching led me to a year in Montpellier as an assistante and also to meeting my future spouse on a trip to Florence to visit a friend. We were married a few years later in the Palazzo Vecchio. Our son is a dual citizen who feels equally at home in Italy and Australia.

A long teaching career, principally at Dickson, Hawker and Lake Ginninderra Colleges came to an end a few years ago. I now spend my retirement singing in two choirs, volunteering as a guide at the National Gallery of Australia and as a reader at 1RPH, radio for the print handicapped. Languages and art have sustained and delighted me all my life. I joined the DMV choir two years ago having been invited to do so by Marie who sat in the row behind me at the CSO concerts. I love to keep a connection with the Italian language and have thoroughly enjoyed the music and good fellowship I have found there.


The choir of the Dante Alighieri Society of Canberra

Rehearsals will re-start

on Thursday 7 February 2019 at 5 pm

Function Room of the Notaras Multicultural Centre