Shortis and Simpson

John Shortis writes songs and scripts, plays keyboard, and spends hours reading newspapers and delving into libraries and archives. Moya Simpson sings, mimics accents, plays characters, and has a passion for Eastern European music.

Their combined skills make up Shortis and Simpson, producers, writers and performers of productions and projects that are always surprising, original, innovative and wide in their range of styles and genres.

Based in Canberra, they specialise in shows that reflect Australian history and politics in a way that is funny, satirical and informative, with the odd gut-wrenching moment. They perform regularly at Canberra’s national cultural institutions, and regularly do seasons of political satire.

Watch a YouTube performance of Politically Correct Waltzing Matilda

Other Projects

In addition to their regular performances, Shortis and Simpson also run a world music choir called Worldly Goods, a 60 voice community choir. Worldly Goods was formed in 1998, and has performed at conferences, as part of festivals, in large community arts projects, and at their own concerts.

CAN BELTO is an acappella group specialising in world music, particularly the spine-chilling harmonies and rhythms of traditional Eastern European folk music. The group grew out of Moya’s voice workshops, and 7 years on, regularly perform their wide repertoire of songs at a variety of venues, including the National Gallery, the Hall of Memory at the War Memorial, the National Archives, Old Parliament House, National Folk Festival, Sydney Acappella Festival, as well as conferences and private functions.

 Voice workshops

Moya Simpson’s voice workshops create a joyous, humorous and safe environment for vocal exploration, harmony and improvisation. Participants experience the delight of singing with others, using calls, chants and songs from a variety of cultures around the world. They can be for advanced singers or those who sing secretly in the shower. She also works regularly with established groups and choirs on their vocal sound and repertoire development.

Songwriting workshops

John Shortis’s songwriting workshops cover the craft of lyric and melody writing, scanning, song form, rhymes, hook lines, use of computers and home equipment, copyright. Often these workshops involve a group-devised song that is then recorded, produced on CD and launched. John has recently conducted these workshops with Canberra Youth Theatre and Queanbeyan City Council.

Conferences and launches

Shortis and Simpson perform at many conferences in the ACT and interstate. From their enormous repertoire they tailor their performance to suit the needs of the conference. They usually do between 20 and 40 minutes in a situation like conference dinner, exhibition opening etc. They have often created a song specially for the occasion.

Their act is lyric based and requires audience attention.

Past performances have been at conferences related to politics, education, history, law, financial planning, engineering, food and wine, and at launches of exhibitions, festivals etc.

  • John Shortis, photo courtesy of Shortis and Simpson.
  • Moya Simspon, photo courtesy of Shortis and Simspson.
  • Moya Simpson and John Shortis performing with the Worldly Goods Choir. Photo courtesy of Shortis and Simpson.
  • John Shortis, photo courtesy of Shortis and Simpson.