Wednesday, January 31, 2018


While the debate rages around the subject of Republics, flags and justifications for an Australia Day date change, on this 26th January, there were a whole bunch of very satisfied Australians and soon-to-be Australians in the town of Esk who had abundant reasons for celebrating this special day.  


Brady Schultz
Held at the Somerset Civic Centre, the ceremony, emceed by Lowood’s high-spirited Brady Schultz, a living illustration of the Healthy Lifestyles Australia he represents, opened the proceedings by bringing to the microphone Mayor Graeme Lehmann for the official welcome to audience and to Somerset’s Australia Day Ambassador, Mr Steve Baxter.  Steve Is well known for his role as mentor on TV’s The Shark Tank, perhaps lesser known for his other roles as the founder of Brisbane Technology hub, River City Labs. and chief entrepreneurial advisor to the Queensland Government.  Steve captivated the audience with his address emphasising the need for ‘resilience’, to ‘give first…expect nothing in return’; to keep going no matter how many the bumps in the road; to be stronger than one’s fears.  

 Which is why Alexis FitzGerald OAM, the personification of these values, could not have been a more deserving recipient of the Australia Day Art and Cultural award for her 40 years of continuous giving to so many people through her music and singing.  In fact, there were 20 or so choir members in attendance and countless others who could not be, who would concur that Alexis’s achievements over 40 years as Musical Director of the Esk Community Choir, the gifts of her music together with so many little acts of kindness to a community even before 1978, could well have been worthy of a win in each of the award categories!  Well …perhaps not the Young Citizen of the Year…but what is age but a number when her energy levels are continually on the rise?

However, there were others thoroughly deserving of these Australia Day honours presented to each by Steve and applauded for their endeavours by a grateful community and their many justifiably proud supporters.

There are now at least another 16 proud new Australian Citizens who loudly took the Australian Citizenship Pledge and together with audience members, the Citizenship Affirmation.  Presented with certificates and a ‘welcome’ gift of a Native Tree from the Somerset Council, they, together with the attendees, adjourned to the Joan Burke Room to enjoy the company of new friends over a delightful morning tea, a reflection of what it means to be Australian. 

By: Sue Walker

Mr Steve Baxter

The Hon. Shayne Neumann MP

Alexis surrounded by a band of supporters from the Esk Community Choir.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Tom Byrne and Bob Hardy - 'To Life'
If finding that Christmas spirit was proving difficult for some this year, an afternoon of Yuletide entertainment with the ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR could surely have set the clocks ticking for the countdown to Christmas.  From the stage of the Somerset Civic Centre in Esk, framed by a magnificent backdrop depicting a scene from the Christmas story, to the compelling accompaniment by Margaret Philp and under the masterful direction of Alexis FitzGerald, the Choir delivered in song a diversity of beautiful sounds ranging from Fiddler on the Roof to a finale including one of the most emotive songs guaranteed to generate goose bumps if not tears, The Holy City.

The curtain was drawn for Tom Byrne’s and Bob Hardy’s uplifting toast To Life from Fiddler on the Roof, to be joined on stage by an ensemble of singers for a sensitive offering of a Sabbath Prayer.  The men rejoined for an inspiring rendition of Noel, Noel and the ladies answered with And the Angels Sang…perfect for a choir of ladies whose singing might have been mistaken for just that.  To complete the opening bracket, the entire choir came together to fill the hall with And the Night Shall Be Filled With Music.

Sabbath Prayer

Variety being high on the requirements for this Choir’s annual Christmas Concerts, it was the turn of talented Nedi Granzien to enthrall the audience with Mr Mistoffeles from the musical Cats and with a quick costume change, complement the amazing Erica, aka Eric von Nida, for one more of his highly acclaimed presentations of Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid. Notwithstanding his sensational performance, unused to the vagaries of wearing high heels, Eric did manage to shuffle off the stage suffering with two different poor unfortunate soles!

Nedi Granzien
Erica  aka Eric von Nida


 A Christmas Concert could not be complete without the sounds of children and surely there would have been many puffed out parents’ chests peppering the audience following a consummate performance by the very cute kids of the Esk State School Concert Band with their equally elated conductor, Adam Smith. Who better than Santa Claus to then reward their spirited playing with some sweet treats! 
Interwoven amongst the mosaic of musical performances were the many raffle draws along with two very special presentations. The first, presented by Kathleen, was to two of the Choir’s long serving, hard-working and valued members, Leah Hayward and our resident artist and masterful maker of many backdrops, Russell Zammit, both of whom received the rare honour of Life Membership. 

Life Member - Leah Hayward

Life Member - Russell Zammit

 The second was the presentation of a gift from the choir to Our House, a facility in Toogoolawah which gives so much to disabled residents in the Brisbane Valley; whose workers nurture abilities rather than disabilities and who provide a friendly home away from home for both residents and carers.  

Presentation to 'Our House'

Forecasting the final bracket and bursting onto the stage in a blur of black and white, The Sweethearts of Song, Kathleen, Susie, Carolyn and Maree notched up another assortment of supporters with their upbeat and harmonious sounds from the 60s.  

"Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" with the Sweethearts of Song

 The group who sang so beautifully at Brisbane Sings in August did so again with an impeccable confirmation of Why We Sing and adding another level of loveliness, Suzanne Clemence on flute accompanied with Margaret as they choir came together for Waiting for Bethlehem’s Light.  With the audience now suitably primed for some singing of their own, the inspiring sounds of Silent Night and the Holy City rang throughout the hall leaving people to ponder the joys of singing whilst partaking of the pots of tea, coffee and cake around the festively decorated tables.

By: Sue Walker

Grace, Karen, Desma and Steve

Desma, Steve, Ruth, Lloyd, Sue, Roger

The Choir

Alto and Bass Section

Gary and Steve

The Sabbath Prayer - Maree Lansdown and Bob Hardy

We Wish You a Very Happy Christmas 

and a wonderful New Year 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


They’re right!  There really IS nothing like travel.  It truly does broaden one’s mind and if my past travel diet experiences are anything to go by, also one’s bottom!  Now if you happen to be a part of the Esk Community Touring Choir, it also has a way of strengthening friendships, sharing cultures and creating undreamed of experiences in jaw-dropping places which is why, following a welcome by Alexis and an insight into an initial itinerary by our terrific tour manager, Kathleen, the 30 men and women who gathered on Alexis’s verandah at ‘Coal Creek’ were already showing signs of  excitement at the prospect of another amazing choral and travel experience in beautiful Italy, departing May 2019.

Over glasses of punch, and bubbly graciously provided by Judith and Gary, conversations centered around travel tips by some seasoned travelers, of places already experienced such as one or two not-so-elegant hotels to other venues gracious of architecture and hospitality and concerts at La Scala…oh all right…we never did make it on stage, but we did get moved on from its foyer!   Our amazing librarian Caitlin (a superlative I use because she is!)  proceeded to pass around our folders of meticulously filed music whilst everyone partook of a truly scrumptious afternoon tea.   

 As the day quickly drifted to a close, people, suitably sated and supplied with music, appreciative of  practice CDs cleverly recorded and put together by Gail, with rehearsal dates and visions of Venetian gondoliers dancing in their heads, people headed homeward, grateful for a Choir Director who can formulate dreams then make them happen; who knows her Choir so well as to challenge them with the perfect repertoire then creates it on CD for all to learn; whose joy of music is completely contagious and who makes the best zucchini slice in the world.  We hope, Alexis, you know how absolutely awesome we think you are! 

Even the Lorrikeets are in Green and Red

Monday, November 20, 2017


Tom - bringing in the sausages from Boutique Meats

Grateful for the rain having made way for a crisp and sparkling Toowoomba Sunday morning, Greg and Ruth Skippen arrived in town early with boxes and eskies full of BBQ supplements to set up for the Esk Community Choir’s big fundraising day at the Toowoomba West Bunnings Store.  Twenty minutes later, Greg emerged from within hauling 2 meters of timber, bulging bags of potting mix and all manner of building and gardening accessories, reinforcing the theory that the good people of Bunnings could be possibly pumping something into their air conditioning system sending shoppers temporarily insane but not so much that the aroma of sizzling sausages and onions does not become irresistible to these weekend warriors on their way out.   And so it was on November 19th, when conga lines of customers, managed to munch their way through almost 70 kilos of Boutique Meats’ sensational sausages, several slabs of sliced bread and multitudinous mounds of onions all smothered in the sauces and mandatory mustard.

It has to be said that a slow start had our willing workers a little worried that the previous week’s official opening of ‘the other’ Bunnings store may have thrown a bunnings spanner into the potential profit-making experience.  However, it was not long before people laden with purchases were lining up for their sausage snacks, served to them by a corps of choir members cooking, preparing, and managing the money and drinks in a choreographed sequence of alternating shifts, some lasting the length of the day.

By 4.30pm with all but a few of the sausages sold and the clean up completed there were few who that night would not have had any trouble sleeping the sleep of the exhausted, satisfied in their having not only reaped the rewards of their hard work but having again put capital F U N into FUNdundraising!

To Ruth and Greg Skippen who took hold of the organizational reins of this with the competence, grace and selfless spirit we have come to know in them both; to Damien FitzGerald and his Boutique Meats for his generous sponsorship of this important fundraiser and to the 13 choir members who  gave so willingly of their time and allowed us all to forget that it was supposed to be work and not fun and, along the way, made it the success it has been on so many levels, A BIG THANK YOU!!
By: Sue Walker
Marina and Brian

Saucy kids - Carolyn and Judy

Greg - totally focused

Jan - keeping an eye on the til

Miss Johanna - or is it Poirot?

Eating the profits !!!? Kathie and Sue

Lloyd, Gary and Di

Roger and Eric

Suzanne and Jan

Co-ordinator extraordinaire - Ruth.

Friday, October 27, 2017


Esk Community Choir Ensemble
Margaret, Judy, Yvonne, Nola, Carolyn, Maree, Bob, Roger, Alexis, Tom, Eric, Di, Marina, Sue, Jo, Kathie

If ever there was a fast-track to a reality check for performers of any genre, it would be entering eisteddfods and this it has been for the handful of entrants from the Esk Community Choir, along with little Nedi Granzien, following their courageous performances scattered over 10 days and nights of competition at the 2017 Silkstone Eisteddfod.

In her very first eisteddfod, there were no jelly-legs for Nedi who completely commanded the stage with solos in Musical Theatre, Folk, Sacred, Girls Aged 12 years and Girls’ Championship 13 years and under; Four “seconds” and a highly commended or third placing.  Bravo Nedi!!
Susan Walker and Eric von Nida

Equally energetic was our Eric von Nida who floored most of his competitors in four different solo sections humbly receiving high praise from both adjudicator and audience with placings in each, finally to unite in duet with Susie Walker, their Golden Song proving just that when they came away with a first.

Di Chaplin

While placings are gratifying, they can also be subjective in a festival of the vocal arts adjudged by one.   Notwithstanding Ms Ireni Utley’s notable accreditation, it is also the commitment to fulfilling personal goals which deserves equal acknowledgement.  These were most certainly achieved when Di Chaplin gave her all with Autumn Leaves in the Ballad section and in Musical Theatre, Nola Niemeyer, always brilliant with her Why Am I Always the Bridesmaid, both our ladies receiving encouraging high praise, their joy no less for their efforts.  

A learned person once said ‘it takes a long time to become young’ and in two of the Choral Group sections, the Esk Choir Ensembles’ were clearly evidence of this when they were able to mix it with their youthful opposition in both talent and enthusiasm, separated only by a few energetic dance steps and 50 odd years of maturity. For I Love a Piano, the ladies were awarded a silver and for their efforts both visually and chorally, the ladies and gents in the My Fair Lady ensemble brought home the gold!  During her commentary in the presentation of awards for the Ensembles, Ms Utley stressed the need for the young school leavers to ‘do it for yourselves…go find a choir and continue to sing’, her comments clearly alluding to the obvious enjoyment showcased by our Choir during the performances.  

Margaret Philp

To Margaret, once again for your unquestioned giving of your spare moments and faultless accompaniment of our Ensemble songs;  and to Alexis, the heart and soul of our Choir, for a bazillion practices before, after and around choir rehearsals, for your gifting to all the soloist and dueters your time, teachings, beautiful accompaniment and encouragement without stopping to take a breath, we give our heartfelt thanks.

By: Susan Walker

Nedi Granzien

Nola Niemeyer