Thursday, January 28, 2016

AUSTRALIA DAY 2016 IN ESK



On January 26th, following a substantial and scrumptious breakfast enjoyed by the many who came to celebrate this Australia Day tradition in Esk, the Somerset Civic Centre, which was decorated to reflect even more of the Aussie flavours,  began to fill for the 2016 Awards Presentation and Citizenship Ceremony.  Following introductions by Graham Snow, aka "Snowy" the eloquent emcee du jour, and welcoming words by Mayor Graeme Lehmann, Australia Day Ambassadors, Marie Yokoyama and Emi Kamada gave their address.  These two, of Japanese heritage and winners of TVs "Hotplate" in 2015, are now successful restaurateurs who spoke of Australia's diversity and its acceptance of differences making Australia the best darn country in the World.


So many worthy Nominees from their various fields of high achievement then lined up for the Australia Day Awards presentations.  The Esk Community Choir were honoured to receive an Art and Cultural Award  nomination for  their significant contributions and achievements in providing music and a music  culture to the Community, three performances of 'Excerpts from Les Misérables' being the highlights alluded to.  However this year, the award in this division went to the Somerset Art Awards, 2015 for the creation of their Art Centre and a showcase of exhibits from over 100 contributors at the Somerset Civic Centre: A well deserved reward for this wonderful effort.
The Citizenship Ceremony which followed was a very poignant moment for the 21 new Australians who now call the Somerset Region "home" and we were all proud to sing, as one, the Australian National Anthem.

Whilst to win one of these awards can certainly be uplifting and a public acknowledgement of some mighty achievements, 'tis a pity there is not a category for The Luckiest and Happiest Choir in the World...There'd be no contest! 

Australia Day Awards in Esk: Nominees for the Sports Award. The winner
Meg Essex is currently on a Basketball scholarship in the USA.

Choir members - Margaret Philp, Gail Webster, Di Chaplin & Susan Walker.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

FOR CHRISTMAS THE GIFT OF MUSIC FROM THE ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR

Merry Christmas from the Esk Community Choir

 Wishing you a

 Christmas filled with 

Joy and Peace

and a Safe and Happy

New Year

 

 

 





As the sun painted the sky blue on the morning of December 6th, not a storm prophecy was in sight as people prepared for the 25th running of ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR'S Annual Christmas Variety Concert.  Down at the Somerset Civic Centre, the abundance of sparkling spheres and overhanging stars on stage created the magical illusion of a floating twinkling sea, the magic of Christmas.


Following the warm welcome by Choir Director Alexis FitzGerald, accompanist Margaret Philp's resounding opening bars beckoned the Choir as each section made its way down the centre aisle.  In a demonstration of some of the key elements of Choral singing, choristers came together before the stage in a sublime harmony of sight and sound.   The Choir Men then gave a powerful rendition of 'Cantate Hodie' ( Sing Today) followed by the entire Choir again  ringing out the stirring  Anthem by Simper, 'Make a Joyful Noise',  which is precisely what the Ladies and the entire choir did  throughout the  first choral bracket, the beautiful piano accompaniment by Margaret and by Kym Clemence on flute adding another layer of loveliness to the upbeat, uplifting Christmas Carols.





Joshua
Many of the joys of Christmas are brought to us by children and this concert had them in abundance.   Nine year old Joshua FitzGerald's consummate whip cracking skills brought everyone to attention as he set the scene for 11 talented little cowpokes, 'The Semitones', who strolled out on stage singing the Eddie Arnold 'Wagon Wheels'.  From 'inside' their Wagon, masterfully created by the Choir's own Tom Byrne, they put smiles on faces with some delightful singing of well loved songs from 'Oklahoma'.   Equally passionate about making music were the members of the Esk State School's Junior and Senior Choirs and School Band all under the watchful eye of Mr Adam Smith and his skilled accompanist, Andrea Oxenford, all of whom had audience members tapping and clapping to the beat of their thoroughly enjoyable songs.






 
The Semitones




Eskimo Jazz (Linda and Bob)




'Eskimo Jazz', a trio of  musicians who have been sharing the gifts of their talents over a number of years took audience members for a trip down memory lane with their catchy songs both vocally and instrumentally...and contagious they were as unsolicited audience  participation filled the auditorium to the accompaniment of  their undeniable musical skills. 











Kathleen Watts, Sue Walker and Gail Webster were the sassy 'Sisters' who,  along with  the 'rhythmic  lap slappers ',   Nola Niemeyer, Marina Crichton and Joann Brown , put a little   extra into ordinary with their entertaining twist on this song from Irving Berlin's  'White Christmas'.  Lucky winners of raffles, lucky door and lucky numbers prizes were drawn at interludes throughout the afternoon leaving Interval for a number of Santa's little helpers to distribute sweets to an appreciative audience. 

 
Gail, Susan & Kathie
 
Gail, Susan, Kathie, Marina, Joann and Nola  - "Sisters" 




Then along came 'The Bush Bashers'.   

This band of essentially Aussie blokes (and a Sheila or two) with their own brand of country -style music and comical quips has been delighting audiences near and far for more than 20 years.  Alongside traditional instruments, they twanged and thumped their way through songs using some inventive bush musical devices, the creation of which appeared to involve substantial beverage consumption. So enticing was this performance that even Somerset's Mayor, the always supportive Graeme Lehmann, was seen leading the audience in a vigorous demonstration of Homes, Gum Trees, Plum Trees, Verandahs and an Ol' Rocking Chair...amongst others!


Lloyd King and the Bushbashers


Audience Participation




An Esk Community menagerie waddled over to the Choir risers to let it be known that 'All God's Creatures Have a Place in the Choir' after which a little sanity and serenity prevailed.  

 
Roger Marsupial and Alan Elephant
Is this Iris Tune?

 Though the tenderness of Robert Burns'  'Auld Lang Syne' will always be felt no matter how it is sung, the sentiment of the Choir's Christmas version was no less meaningful as the entire audience joined with them in its singing.  Luke O'Hagan's mellifluous tenor voice led the Choir as they rejoined in Bach's blessed 'Ave Maria'.  Singing the verses of the ancient Christmas Carol 'O Holy Night' the goose-bump gorgeous soprano voice of Jo Robbins soared as she led the Choir into the climactic choruses and the James/Wheeler 'Carol of the Birds',  a uniquely Australian Christmas Carol,  was the perfect 'Orana' to a wonderful audience who came to enjoy an afternoon of inspiring performances.



Luke O'Hagan
Jo Robbins






















Bernie Snepp


To be able to welcome to this day a very special friend and supporter of the Choir was an unparalleled honour.  For 28 years, Mr Bernie Snepp has been skilfully recording for CD the Choir's Concerts and performances and making them sound like the Choir they strive to be.  Though at the age of 88 he is now in semi-retirement, it is hoped that the distance between friends will still never be too long.    






With uplifted hearts, bags full of gifts and goodies purchased from the Craft stall and the sounds of Christmas still resonating, concert goers gathered in the foyer for a delectable afternoon tea,  all in no doubt of the store of wonderful Choir performances they can expect in 2016.