|Esk Community Choir with Strings and Things Orchestra|
Some say that Summer is here when the chair rises before you do! However, on December 2nd, despite the onset of sweltering Queensland heat and winds scarily whipping up the smoky haze, there were no such sticky situations in sight but the cool comfort of the Somerset Civic Centre where so many of the Esk Community Choir’s fans and followers converged to be distracted and entertained at the Choir’s Annual Christmas Concert, their 28th, and a fitting finale to a wonderful 40th birthday celebratory year.
Councillor Sean Choat is fast becoming a familiar figure at the emcee’s podium and on this occasion, again very capably shepherded the show along from the outset to its magnificent conclusion.
At 2.30pm, following the warm welcome by Choir Director, Alexis FitzGerald and a stirring accompaniment of the National Anthem by Somerset’s own Matthew Lukritz, an Ensemble of Choir ladies, through the words and music of the Gilbran/Brunner O Music, gave a display of what it is to ‘see with your ears’ and ‘hear with your hearts’, senses heightened by the beautiful accompaniment of Margaret Philp on piano and cellist Graeme Souster.
|Ladies Ensemble - O Music|
It is said that ‘art begins where effort ends’ an adage demonstrated by members of the concert’s featured guests, Strings and Things, their appearance made possible through the generosity of Bendigo Bank. Hailing from the Sunshine Coast, this wonderful ensemble’s seemingly effortless performances during both halves of the concert were an expression of the art of making beautiful music. From J.S.Bach’s sublime Brandenburg Concerto No 3 and Adagio to a medley of Muppet melodies complete with appearances by Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear, this is an Ensemble of highly accomplished musicians, their performances both as an Ensemble and in collaboration with the choir, truly highlights for concert goers.
|Strings and Things Orchestra|
Equally tantalizing were the performances by Nedi Granzien. Still at the tender age of 13, Nedi has moved well past the exuberant promise of a talented little tot performing since the age of 9 with The Semitones, to apparent maturity as a solo singer. Nedi recently was awarded the Girls’ Championship Trophy for 13 years and under at this year’s Silkstone Eisteddfod. With an obvious passion for music and singing as she constantly seeks to embrace new challenges and under the tutelage and encouragement of Alexis and the guidance and support of a loving family, Nedi was the obvious choice for this year’s Esk Community Choir $1000.00 Bursary, presented to her on this day as a stepping stone to further musical opportunities. Nedi’s O Holy Night solo collaboration with the Choir and her heartfelt rendition of Scorn Not His Simplicity performed with all the sensitivity and pathos Phil Coulter’s words evoke were further evidence of her emerging gifts and an exciting future both creatively and personally as she continues her musical journey.
So spare a thought for The Sweethearts of Song, Kathleen, Susie, Carolyn and Maree who had to follow Nedi on stage! However, with a growing demand for their sublime harmonies of well-loved songs from the decades, the girls again had concert-goers smiling and tapping to the beat of Aretha and ABBA evergreens.
|The Sweethearts of Song|
As Christmas Concerts would not be complete without the some of the meaningful sounds of the season, it was again the turn of the talented trumpeter Matthew Lukritz to bring The Little Drummer Boy to life alongside the Choir. Backed by the Choir, the breathtaking duet The Prayer was so beautifully performed by Kathleen Watts and Eric von Nida. The Esk Ladies Choir then followed with their dynamic rendition of the very challenging but equally beautiful Festival Te Deum by Linda Spevacek.
|Kathleen and Eric - The Prayer|
While it may not seem synonymous with the season of Christmas, Who Are the Brave was the powerful song performed so beautifully by the Choir Men, a song which speaks a language of love; a love transmitted through ‘those who serve mankind’ …surely the substance of a Christmas story.
The artistry of the combined performance by the Esk Community Choir and Strings and Things as they came together to present the finale was a language only of which the songs themselves could convey. The stirring Sanctus by Gounod and beautiful Christmas Carols in concert with the audience left all in no doubt of the store of wonderful performances yet to come in 2019.
And as the hall slowly cleared, concert goers all replete from a diet of wonderful music, a delectable afternoon tea, a few with raffle prizes and many with bags of gifts and goodies from the craft and condiments stall, many were singing the praises of this year’s delightful afternoon of entertainment.
By the time concert day comes around, the final product may often appear effortless… but it is not. It requires the support of many amazing people. Perhaps ‘support’ may not be the right word…Love, dedication and patience may be more accurate and with that in mind, here is a list of some amazing people who are those creators.
First and foremost, Alexis FitzGerald OAM whose passion is contagious, whose patience should be bottled, whose gifts of music are those that keep on giving; a generous spirit and ‘Angel of Music’ without whom this choir would cease to exist.
Margaret Philp, accompanist, whose talents and long hours of practice are often overshadowed by the singers for whom she plays but who never fails to open her heart and home to anyone in need and who makes the best slices this side of the Great Divide.
Then there is the generosity of sponsors who never fail to fill our outstretched hand. To the Editors of The Somerset Newspaper without whose support my stories and articles would still be just Word documents on my computer. There’s Darryl Green Photography, Toogoolawah’s Boutique Meats, Lowood and Fernvale Bendigo Bank, Esk Lions Club, Toogoolawah IGA, St John Biarra Lodge No. 73, Esk Caravan Park, Grand Hotel, the Esk Fruit Shop, Red Deer Café and so many other generous contributors to whom this choir is completely indebted.
There is an amazing Choir Committee who work tirelessly behind the scenes along with a whole host of choir members who oft times go unrecognized for their volunteering roles which make our events flow so smoothly and finally, it is to all our dedicated fans and followers whose smiling faces are constantly a presence at so many Choir events; who have become so much a part of the 40 year life of the Esk Community Choir and for whom we continue to exist.
To all, Peace, and Joy this Festive Season
and may 2019 bring many blessings your way.
and may 2019 bring many blessings your way.
|Suzanne Clemence on Flute - Sanctus|
|Fozzy Bear - AKA Lloyd|
|Kermit the Frog - AKA Eric|