Sunday, March 22, 2015

MANY IRISH EYES WERE SMILING IN ESK AT 'THE WEARIN' O' THE GREEN'



Bob Hardy and Tom Byrne,

"Courtin' in the Kitchen"

It might, according to the old Irish song,  be a long way to Tipperary,  but on Sunday, March 15th many hearts were just as happy to be present at the Somerset Civic Centre,  Esk for the Esk Community Choir's Irish Concert, 'The Wearin' o' the Green'.  Whether people were gearing up for St Patrick's Day or not, it was a happy bunch of concert goers, many decked out in the colours of Ireland, who rollicked and recalled with the Choir, the Semitones and Guest Artists, many of the much loved Irish tunes.
A measure of the talent for this day was the superb rendition of the National Anthem by Matthew Luckritz on trumpet followed by the talented little Semitones, looking quite the part in their Irish clobber, their cuteness only surpassed by their enthusiastic singing.  With three spirited welcoming Irish songs they set the tone for what was to come.


The Choir's opening bracket included the lilting Irish melody 'If We Only Had Old Ireland Over Here", a song 'gifted' to the choir by Cay Cooney, the 2014 Touring Choir's custodian, guide, and now friend


Nedi and Ticky Granzien
Joshua FitzGerald


Despite the lovely outfits and many shades of green seated in the audience, the lack of a smile would have been impossible when The Semitones' Nedi and Ticky Granzien, two little rising stars, gave their sublimely confident performance of 'You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile' from the musical "Annie".

With a sound as Irish as Dingle Pies, Ashley and Madeleine Ambrey together with Suzannah Pegg  make up the trio,  'With One Accord'.  Their foot-tapping tunes and sentimental ballads went hand in hand keeping the audience thoroughly entertained as they played on fiddle, button accordion and banjo.
With One Accord in action


 
Suzannah Pegg, with Ashley and Madeleine Ambrey








 Lively might be one way of describing 'The Irish Lads', John, Bob, Tom, Roger and Lloyd, five men of the Choir as one has never seen them before, when they took to the stage with a touch of blarney while 'Courtin' in the Kitchen'. Accompanied by the multi talented John Caffin on Guitar, they lit up the stage with their hearty singing and colourful costumes. Proof also of the robust nature of women's pantyhose!
 
John Caffin, Bob Hardy, Tom Byrne, Roger Woodman, Lloyd King "Courtin' in the Kitchen"



Truly memorable will be the superb piano performance by Guest Artist, Emiko Ota.  Music by Debussy and a medley of Irish tunes, enriched by her own arrangements, were outstanding. Emiko's ability to communicate the pieces through her artistic touch was inspiring.  With Emiko and her partner now welcome residents in the Somerset Region it is hoped that her collaborations with The Esk Community Choir will be many and varied over the years to come.











Even the audience became part of this afternoon's performance as they joined with the Choir for some evergreen Irish songs.  The final Choral bracket of Irish tunes, including the sweet sounds of the ladies 'In the Valley Where Wishes Come True', and a menagerie of 'God's Creatures' who really do Have Their Place in the Choir,  had audience members full of the joys of singing as they headed off to the sumptuous afternoon tea tables to prolong what was a magical afternoon of music.
 
Iris Tune "All God's Creatures Got a Place in the Choir"


It is said that goals without planning and practice are just wishes and this account of yet another dazzling display of musical entertainment cannot conclude without mention of the extraordinary talents of Esk Choir Director/Conductor/accompanist/emcee de jour, Alexis FitzGerald who, with patience and jolly hard work, is constantly converting her goals and dreams to reality.  Her passion for music and for bringing it to audiences is unparalleled. To Margaret Philp, Choir Accompanist, whose mastery at the keyboard and her commitment never stop at 9pm on a Tuesday night and Suzanne Clemence whose sublime accompaniment on flute always adds such richness to the Choral sounds go many blessings.
Events such as these are never possible without 'a little help from our friends' and so  to Boutique Meats of 'Castell Park' ( boutiquemeats@bigpond.com)   for a constant supply of enticing raffle prizes and to Harcourts Real Estate, Bribie Island, for the endless source of printed matter go much gratitude.    
by Susan Walker

 
The Tenors - Eric, Trevor, Russell

 
Winner of the Wearin O the Green

John Caffin


Sopranos- Jo, Leah, Mikhaela, Kathie and Lynne
 
Esk Community Choir

Friday, February 27, 2015

SINGING IN THE 'NEW CHOIR YEAR' IN TOOGOOLAWAH



2015 marks the 37th year the ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR has been showcasing their talents as their music has resonated with audiences around halls, hallowed walls and open spaces near and far.  On Sunday, 15th February, the 'Opening Concert' at Alexandra Hall, Toogoolawah was yet another afternoon of uplifting pleasure, delighting the  small band of dedicated supporters old and new who came to enjoy.
While this venue evoked memories of glory days enjoyed by many long standing members of the Choir, for others, along with the next generation of little Choristers, The Semitones, it was an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of past performers, as on this day they all took to the stage for an entré of uplifting sacred songs heralded by The Semitones' stirring delivery of the Anthem.


The Semitones



Patrina McLeod
Matthew Lukritz
The much loved I Don't Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar will remain so following Patrina McLeod's sublime solo performance and Kathleen Watts and Sue Walker's punchy rhythms and sweet harmonies during their duet Every Time I Feel the Spirit was truly uplifting as was the pure clarity of multi-talented Matthew Lukritz's rendition of the African/American Spiritual, Let Us Break Bread Together.




 
Katie FitzGerald
Evidence of the Choir's versatility continued as the 10 member Choir Ensemble gave an ethereal performance of Trees, the song inspired by the illuminating words of poet Joyce Kilmer, and the tender delivery of the diminutive Katie FitzGerald's debut solo I Praise You Lord was further proof of her gigantic musical future.  Always inspiring is Handel's The Lord's Prayer and Roland Cox did it fine justice, leading in solo, supported by the Choir for the stirring crescendo of final words.  

Her unquenchable love of music and her infinite talents had Alexis FitzGerald flitting from her role as the eloquent emcee de jour, Choir Director/Conductor to her outstanding performance in piano duet with Choir Accompanist, the incomparable Margaret Philp, as they gave, on duel pianos, a passionate performance of Sanctuary of the Heart together with an interjection of chocolaty choral sounds from the Esk Choir Men.  Perhaps following this day, the RSPCA might rethink their advertising following 10 little Semitones'  bright and beautiful arrangement of All Things Bright and Beautiful complete with bandages and one very cute,  seemingly well-fed wombat called Joshua!
Unbeknownst to an audience, rarely does a Concert run to plan but, as a wise man once said...'when
Emiko Ota
one door closes, another one opens', and on this occasion it happened  to let in one Ms Emiko Ota, a gifted  pianist,  recently relocated with her partner  to the Somerset Region.  After 33 years of performing, for the most part in and around her country of birth, Japan, and in the earlier years, under the tutelage of the highly regarded classical pianist, Yoko Tohei, Emiko's passion for music has continued to be inspired by others who simply love music.   On this day, Emiko's dynamic piano performances of two of Claude Debussy's provoking compositions will surely be just the beginning of a wonderful collaboration with the Esk Community Choir and their mutual desire to connect with appreciative audiences.
A fitting finalé to a magical afternoon of music was the Choir's rendition of Sing for Joy...because that is what they do.    
by Susan Walker

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

GIFTS OF MUSIC FOR CHRISTMAS FROM THE ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR

Esk Community Choir 2014


On Sunday afternoon 7th December at the Somerset Civic Centre, Esk, much planning, preparation and a passion for music came to life in the form of the ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR'S 24th Christmas Variety Concert.  For Alexis FitzGerald and her Choir, this was again a labour of love and the culmination of yet one more musically successful year in the Choir's 36 year history.
For the skillful execution of the National Anthem, the spotlight turned to Matthew Lukritz, the young rising star whose apparent musical talents are not only confined to his  flare on this day's instrument of choice, the trumpet.  



The Choir, made their entrance with an entrée of uplifting songs reflecting the spirit of Christmas including the 'Christmas Processional', each one setting the bar for some brilliant performances to follow.  The purity of the youthful soprano voices of Emily FitzGerald and Aydan Forsyth who joined forces for their performance of 'Pie Jesu' was truly inspiring.  It was not then surprising to see both Emily and Aydan line up with the sensational little Semitones whose popularity with audiences is now only exceeded by their delightful singing talents. They took the audience to a magical place under the sea with  awsome excerpts from 'The Little Mermaid'. 

The Semitones
The Semitones featuring Emily FitzGerald



Paul Barth

 Making his Christmas Concert debut,   Paul Barth, the highly talented 15 year old pianist visiting from Germany,  was completely in the zone, bursting into his performances of 'Rhapsodie Mignonne' and 'Go Str8 4 It' with gusto and the skills of one who is obviously passionate about his music.





Students of the Esk State Primary School Choir - enjoying making music




On another level, and equally as passionate about the art of singing were the host of adorable little singers of the Esk State School's Junior and Senior Choirs under the direction and watchful eye of music specialist, Adam Smith.  The audience's thorough enjoyment during their performance was tangible.


...And then came Percussimo!         



Percussimo and also featuring the backdrop by Russell Zammitt



Percussimo



While on this Sunday afternoon Mother Nature took a break from unleashing her by now regular spectacle of  light and sound  in the skies above, the eight member percussion ensemble, Percussimo,  more than made up for it on stage as they gave world-class performances which elicited their own  thunderous applause.  Under the brilliant creative direction of Tina Liu, in a master class of the percussive arts, Percussimo took the audience on a journey from a palpitating beat of Brazillian Street dancing to the celestial, almost spiritual sounds from the 'Edge of the World' and back to a bit of Michael Jackson boogie.   When they took to the stage following interval, out came the pots, pans, wooden spoons and other kitchen utensils including the rubbish bins in a hand-clapping foot tapping arrangement of fun with things that go BANG, even at one point, furnishing audience members with triangles to enhance the magic of making music and rhythm with percussion instruments.  The almighty force of their final 'Sabre Dance' left the audience in raptures and hungry for more of this masterful ensemble.


It was wonderful to welcome back to Esk's performance stage the chocolaty bass voice of Robert Biggs who gave a moving performance of "Star of God" accompanied by his wife, Beverley.  Both staunch Choir supporters, Beverley has, in the past, been a valued Chorister and accompanist for the Esk Choir. Her sublime accompaniment alongside the artistry of Margaret Philp also added another colour to the rainbow of Choral sounds throughout the afternoon.


Along with Matthew who was able to bend the melody in bluesy style with his brilliant trumpet playing, the Scherzi Christmas trio of Sue Walker, Kathleen Watts and Maree Landsdown, in a piece of madcap mayhem delighted concert goers with the Christmas Shopping induced 'Blues'.   The Esk Male Choir, led in solo by the mellifluent bass voice of Robert Hardy, gave an inspiring performance of 'The King's Prayer' and the etherial singing of Zaninelli's 'Alleluia, Silent Night' by the ladies of the Choir and the undeniable abilities of Suzanne Clemence on flute were all a measure of the extraordinary diversity and talent this amazing Choir can bring to the stage.

SCHERZI: featuring Maree, Sue and Kathleen with guest appearance by Matthew Lukritz, Tom Byrne and Nola Niemeyer

The magic of Christmas was conveyed in song during the finalé of Carols, climaxing, as has become the tradition, in the exhilarating 'Hallelujah Chorus' from 'The Messiah' which again left a thrilled audience in no doubt of the quality of wonderful musical events in store for the coming year. 
To the Esk Community Choir's  Musical Director, Alexis FitzGerald, whose patience, commitment and extraordinary talents brought this concert to life, from a very large 'family' who had the good fortune to have Alexis decide to make her home in Esk, go their deepest gratitude.  
 by: Sue Walker



Peter and Pam Ellis from Laidley

Shirley Todd and guest

Yvonne and Wally Kerswell


Members of the Bass Section : Bob Hardy, Tom Byrne and Catherine Conn

Merry Christmas 

and a  

 Happy New Year