Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Sweetheart's of Song swelled hearts and the hall at Esk's RSL

The Sweethearts of Song - Sue  Walker, Maree Lansdown, KathleenWatts

While the Esk Sub Branch of the RSL may not be what one might describe as a performance venue, the more than one hundred ticketholders who arrived there on Sat 7th November could not have had a care.  Nowhere else could they have been any more thoroughly entertained than when Kathleen Watts, Maree Lansdown and Sue Walker, who are the Sweethearts Of Song,  brought their blend of upbeat and nostalgic sounds reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters and others to an audience who were left yelling for more.

 Tom was billed to be the comic relief between the girls costume changes...telling Tommy Cooper jokes. However Esk Community Choirs own Toomy Byrne is peerless and doing what to him comes so naturally , with his own appropriate costume changes, Tom had the audience doubling up with laughter and tears.

 Audience members were seated around tables decorated on a par with the delicious three course meal being served by the RSL's Leonie Elwell and her band of supportive angels.

The Angels of the RSL

Fantastic Food


 As the big band music rose to the level of the heightened expectations, the audience hushed and the Sweethearts Of Song stepped up to their microphones, generating tears of a different kind as together and individually they sang their first bracket of well loved songs from the war years. Mains served and Tom, having now warmed the crowd with his comical quips, gave way to the girls whose opening number 'In the Mood' did just that to the already animated audience. 
Swinging Sweethearts

With Maree providing a lovely strong lead, Kathleen, both lead and soprano and Sue taking on the alto  for a smooth blending of three part harmonies, the  Sweethearts Of Song  'Boogie Woogied' , 'Chatanooga'd', 'Bei Mir Bist'd', and swooned through a whole bracket of Andrews Sisters songs that brought smiles and laughter to not only a generation during the 1940s but also to a room full of new fans in Esk's ERSL. 

Jo Brown and Carolyn - the lovely Raffle Ladies
Following the drawing of raffles, the Sweethearts Of Song  final bracket included an audience invitation to join them in a medley of war songs, the popularity of which have defied time and generations...and join in they did , raising the sound to a joyous level. Songs too beautiful and familiar to prevent a few listeners from quiet participation were solos performed by Kathleen, Maree and Sue. It was with a parting 'thank you' during their final number when the Sweethearts Of Song promised that somewhere, sometime 'We'll Meet Again' ...and they did - following a standing ovation, with an encore performance of ' In the Mood' 

In The Mood for a fabulous show.

To Kathleen, who had the delightful idea that people would want to hear these beautiful songs from the war years, make it a fund raiser for the 2016 touring Esk CommunityChoir and then together with Maree, Susan and Tom, made it possible, goes so much gratitude.
To Leonie and Charlie Elwell and their Dream Team from the Esk RSL who ran with the idea and assisted in its success on so many levels, bounteous bouquets.
From the Sweethearts Of Song first practice before Choir in June, steaming up the windows in Kathleen's car, to snatched rehearsals mid week and longer ones on weekends, their successful journey is a testament to their love of singing, dedication and a lot of hard work. And finallya big 'thank you' to Alexis, Margaret and the best Choir in the world who always believed in them. 

Sue Walker 

The sky over Esk  Hearalding a great show at the Esk RSL

Friday, October 2, 2015


by:  Sue Walker
"Service in Song" has been alive and well both in and out of  the  Somerset Region this past week,  firstly on September 26th with the Choir's participation at the Memorial Dedication  Ceremony held at Esk Memorial Park and two days later, while entertaining the delightful folk at Bundaleer Lodge Aged Care Facility in North Ipswich.

Mayor Graeme Lehmann unveiling the Memorial

The R.S.L's Charlie Elwell hosted this emotive ceremony with Mayor Graeme Lehmann having the honour of the unveiling and Fathers Terrance Hegarty and Ross Cameron bestowing the blessings.  Other distinguished invitees were a representative from Queensland's Department of Veterans' Affairs as well as spokespersons from the State Government whose contributions, along with the hard work by dedicated members of Esk's R.S.L. made possible this grand new Memorial to the Soldiers of War.  Of particular acknowledgement during speeches was the contributions made by the volunteer groups of Esk ladies who, during the war years, not only warmed the spirits of their serving men with letters and parcels, but also their cold and often muddied feet with oodles of hand knitted socks.  Again Alexis, Margaret and the Choir were privileged to have been invited to provide further poignancy to the occasion with their singing of hymns.

Then, with songs in their hearts and voices, Alexis, Margaret and members of the Choir put smiles on the faces of a capacity audience at Bundaleer Lodge, North Ipswich on Monday 28th.   Songs can truly be the language of many aging lives and with a mix of songs from well known Musicals and some lilting Irish folk-songs by the Choir, interspersed with beautiful solos and duets by Choir members,  glints of those sparkles of memory came flooding back.  "Beautiful!!" came the cry from the back of the room after each and every item...but despite our own Andy's delightful brother being slightly biased, the enthusiasm was evidenced all over by those who could not help but join in the singing.  It is not difficult to be moved when gratitude is so tangible, to watch faces light up; when it is the company of 'friends' and the joy of singing that they crave. 

Bass and Tenor section of the choir:
Roland, Lloyd, Roger, Alan, Catherine, Andy, Bob
Members of the choir at Bundaleer Lodge Ipswich.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sweethearts of Song

'Sweethearts of Song', a trio and more bringing to you songs from the War Years will be coming to the Esk RSL on November 7th.  For more detail of this and a window to what this amazing Esk Community Choir has in wait  for 2015, wander through  our wonderful website

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


The Semitones Opening the Concert in Irish Costume and a lilting Irish Tune

The ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR's  'Excerpts from Les Misérables- In Concert'  has been on a journey of late, opening with the Choir's May 5th  performance at the  Somerset Civic Centre  in Esk, on then to the South Burnett at Blackbutt, returning on Friday, September 11th  to Toogoolawah's Alexandra Hall where  they again won over another capacity audience.  

The Choir performing Irish Melodies

In light of the Concert theme, the opening bracket of songs from Ireland was not meant to baffle or bewilder but to make welcome the 2014 Esk Touring Choir's Cork host and special guest, the delightful Cay Cooney who, along with her long time friend Maggie, were flushed with excitement at their warm Somerset reception.   So much of the Irish heritage is celebrated in its music and though the cutest little line-up of Irish clad 'Semitones' with their heart soaring  Irish welcoming songs  and the talented Nedi  Granzien's sublime rendition of  'Dear Little Shamrock' surely were hard acts to follow, and  follow the Choir and soloists did with some liltingly uplifting  Irish favourites.  
A short intermission followed during which Concert goers intermingled and imbibed on complimentary hot drinks and delicious sandwiches.  Sated and again seated, the audience hushed to the strains of the anthem of 'Les Misérables' as a cast of Victor Hugo's colourful characters...the poor and oppressed, the prostitutes, criminals and street children of a nineteenth century Paris...processed to gather on stage before the  brilliant backdrop and barricade.  This is setting for this stunning performance.
With the accompaniment of a small but highly accomplished 'orchestra', from the angry insurgents' cry  'At the End of the Day' through Bob Bigg's eloquent narration interwoven with  the pathos and power of many of the Schonberg/ Boublil/Kretzmer immortalised  solos, duets and chorus numbers, the audience were captivated.  The final wishes of the now departed trio of Fantine, Jean Valjean and Eponone was the beautiful overture to the  soul-stirring chorus of  'Do You Hear the People Sing' which climaxed  a performance  which  in  its entirety brought the audience as one to its feet in  rousing  acclamation.
To Alexis FitzGerald OAM who has for almost 38 years brought her Choir to a place of unparalleled joy with a shared love of singing must go bountiful bouquets for this performance.  Again on this night, Alexis, alongside the undeniable skills of choir accompanist Margaret Philp, was superlative in both accompaniment and direction.  The dulcet strains of violins and guitar added yet another layer of beauty to the music of 'Les Misérables' and for the gift of their talents goes much appreciation to Sunshine Coast musicians Iain McLean and Chrissy Davis on violin  and Logan McIvor for his pulsating rhythms on electric bass.

by: Sue Walker

Leon and Carol Toms with guests

Joy and Warwick Grewcoe and guest

Tom Byrne and Roland Cox enjoying an Irish Coffee and a joke

Emily FitzGerald

Tom Byrne and crew singing 'Master of the House'

Another day and another task for the Esk Community Choir members. A fund raising BBQ at the Toogoolawah markets. Thanks go to a fabulous team of workers who rose early to get the scent of onions and sausages sizzling through the crowds and drawing them into the shelter for the compulsory Australian snack.

Attending to the BBQ at the Toogoolawah Markets
Carolyn King, Christine Caldwell, Roland Cox

Meanwhile, not so far away, the members of the Cork Touring Choir gathered to catch up with Cay Cooney with feasting and drinking and of course a song, "Lachlan Tigers",complete with lagerphone  accompaniment. 
A reunion with our Irish Tour Guide, Cay Cooney and her Australian/Irish friend Maggie.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Margaret Philp, Jan Jennings, Kathie Watts, Elaine Brown, Di Chaplin, Roland Cox, Sue Cox.

Putting the "fun" back into Fundraising was not too difficult on Saturday August 15th when a team of toilers from the Esk Community Choir came together at Bunnings in Toowoomba  to feed the hungry masses with well over 70 kilos of sausages, bread by the truckload, oodles of onions and a song in their hearts.
There is something alluring about the aroma of sizzling sausages and onions that tempts even the virtual vegetarian to the Bunnings Sausage Tent and this day was no exception.  With careful choreography around a small space allowing for accuracy and efficiency of movement, Roland Cox's brilliant preparation paddles playing a significant role in this, the conga line of customers were catered for faster than Wonder Woman can deflect bullets!!
 Even before the sauce had time to settle on unsuspecting items of clothing, many were returning for seconds, due in large  to the most mouth-watering sausages provided  by our own Damien FitzGerald's 'BOUTIQUE MEATS'  and for these and his continual support of the Choir's endeavours, we are continually grateful.  Thanks too must go to those of the Choir who were unable to man the marquee on the day but whose onion chopping efforts proved invaluable.
Though weary and worn, workers went home full of the joys of a successful day, both financially and socially.   Funds raised amounted to just under $2,000.00...a brilliant effort by Sue and Roland Cox and all those who gave of their time and energy for this Overseas Tour 2016 fundraiser.  

by Sue Walker 
Keeping a watchful eye on the 'takings' is our Sue Walker.

Roger Woodman and Tom Byrne
 Perhaps discussing the molecular structure of titanium !!!