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

Friday, October 13, 2017


The Sweethearts of Song at the Re-opening of the  Blackbutt Memorial Hall 2017

Though the Choir’s presentations are many and varied, often as diverse as the venues at which they are staged, there are some occasions when their singing is not of their own instigation and one of those was on Saturday October 7th when a small representation from the Esk Community Choir in the form of The Sweethearts of Song gave a performance to thrill an audience at The Blackbutt Singers’ celebratory concert for the re-opening of the Blackbutt Memorial Hall.
Samantha Kassulke
Before an audience of dignitaries including (for a short time) Queensland MP Deb Frecklington, South Burnett’s very proud Mayor, Keith Campbell and, with an abundance of joie de vivre, emceed by Councillor Gavin Jones, performers delivered a wonderful mosaic of music and artform…a little something for everyone.  With relevance to the occasion, beautiful Choral pieces by the Blackbutt Singers including a Dream Sequence in solo and duet by two of their talented own; entertaining excerpts from a One Act Play delivered by Jocelynn Richardson and Peter Ainslie; Samantha Kassulke, a young flautist who left the audience in little doubt of her obvious musical future and an outstanding performance by Operatic Soprano, Calista Walters…and somewhere in between, with their own fabulous fan base from Esk beaming from amid the audience and the ever capable Tom at the controls, Kathleen Watts, Maree Lansdown, Carolyn King and Susie Walker lit up the stage with their sparkling costumes, upbeat movements and harmonies, the Sweethearts of Song winning over more followers and leaving an audience hoping for more.

Sweethearts - Kathleen, Carolyn, Susan and Maree

With many marvellous raffle prizes won, an afternoon tea to completely satisfy and a host of gracious hosts in the form of the delightful group called the Blackbutt Singers led by Judy Lawrence, it was an honour for this little piece of the Esk Community Choir to have been invited to be a part of this celebrated occasion and a privilege for ‘The Sweethearts’ to have created a line on the first page of the new chapter in the life of this historical piece of Blackbutt’s story.
By:  Sue Walker 

Blackbutt Singers under the baton of  Judy Lawrence

Queensland MP Deb Frecklington

Soprano, Calista Walters

Peter Ainslie and Jocelynn Richardson

Linda Hall

Sue Walker - topping up the lippy in her comic adaptation of 
'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"

For more photos and a new report from the South Burnett follow the link below. 

Monday, October 2, 2017


It took the combination of a committed little choir from Esk and the brilliance of one of the Victorian era’s greatest theatrical partnerships to realise a Spectacular which had concert goers swept away on a glorious tide of sight, sounds and utter entertainment when they entered the world of comic opera created by Gilbert and Sullivan. 
The curtains parted on the stages of the Somerset Civic Centre on 24th September and the Gatton Shire Hall on October 1st for the first wave which rolled off the quarter-deck of H.M.S. Pinafore where a bunch of high-spirited mariners unleashed for the audience their rousing opening number.

There is ‘no business like show business’, and in this instance it was the ‘heartache’ which caused a slight alteration to the programme.  However, Gilbert and Sullivan would surely have approved when the brilliance of Eric von Nida, with precious little notice, fittingly filled the void with Noel Coward’s The Stately Homes of England.

Those mischievous Three Little Maids from School, Susie, Ruth and Kathleen then shuffled into The Town of Titipu in their colourful kimonos with Gilbert and Sullivan’s mordacious mockery of a British Institution, the stage to then be swamped by some swashbuckling Penzanian sounds from The Pirates’ Chorus.  

 Iolanthe is a satirical look at the disruption of a tranquil world of fairies and their equals resulting from male-domination through the discovery of mortal love.  However, there was little to neither disrupt nor distract from the joy of a stage full of Dainty Little Fairies tripping hither and thither and the spirited frolicking of Grace, Joann, Desma and Caitlin as their leaders.

A short interval followed during which the drawing of fabulous raffle prizes made for some very exuberant winners including Gloria Ziebarth from Laidley South who is now the proud owner of the beautifully hand-crafted quilt generously donated by its maker, Christine Garrett who hails from Darwin.

Oh would that a law suit and trial for breach of promise be as entertaining as was the post interval performance of, Trial By Jury!  If there is one thing that has not changed over the years, it is the ability to stir emotions and transport people to another place with great characters and a great story.  Gilbert and Sullivan had the ability to tell theirs by satirizing real life. On this occasion, it was the brilliance of a cast of characters from the Esk Community Choir who commanded the stage in Trial By Jury and who became those great characters connecting a great story with captivated audiences.

Bob Hardy embraced with consummate ease the role of the pickled and unscrupulous Judge…every defendant’s greatest wish; Eric von Nida as the self-confessed ‘ruffian,  bully and snob’ who still managed to win over an audience as the devilishly debonair Edwin, the Defendant;  Carolyn King as the glamorous femme fatale, Angelina, the fortune seeking plaintiff who did strike gold on so many levels; Roger Woodman, brilliant as the Courtroom Usher with the job of a Circus Ringmaster; Lloyd King, outstanding as Counsel for the Prosecution, learned in the law, yet sadly unable to tell a bigamist from a burglar;

Angelina’s three supposedly supportive Bridesmaids, Susie,   Karen and Kathleen aka Delilah, Delightful and Delinquent, by nature as by name and Roland Cox, who slipped rather too comfortably into the role of the philandering Foreman of the Jury.

 There was the gaggle of Jurors, as easily swayed by beauty as by the beauty of a bribe and a gallery where members of ‘the public’ including suffragettes, sisters, saucy seductresses and the few with common sense…or commoners with scents for a titillating trial completed the scene and the telling of Gilbert and Sullivan’s story which has and will again continue to live in hearts for a very long time.
Deserved acknowledgements might normally precede a story but coming at this end by no means diminishes the importance of the vital roles these people played in bringing these two performances to fruition.   

To undertake a task of perfecting 89 pages of accompaniment would be to most a daunting task. To Margaret Philp, alongside Alexis, who complemented the singers with impeccable playing throughout each performance, absolutely honouring the music of Arthur Sullivan and for her calm throughout months of rehearsals, we are eternally grateful.  To Sue Cox who co-ordinated the catering completely satisfying the masses at each venue and in doing so, kept the culinary reputation of this choir in very safe hands, we give our thanks.
We are so fortunate to have Tom Byrne whose inventiveness and accomplished skill with hammer, saw and nails created a Courtroom to rival D’Oyly Carte Opera Company as well as seamlessly managing the stage sets and scenes allowing for the smooth delivery of superlative performances; and Gregg Skippen, our audio ace, who has very quickly mastered the complicated network of chords, mics and speakers allowing audiences quality sound and making us sound so much better than we think we are. Our thanks also to ‘team Costume’ Carolyn and Kerry for their efforts in giving such authenticity and wonderful stage presence to the characters and to the editors of The Somerset Newspaper, Scott and Melissa, whose support of our publicity has gone way above and beyond.  
Lastly, but never least, our gratitude is endless for Alexis, our Angel of Music, whose patience should be bottled, who could make flowers bloom on stage, who brought us to the level of singing that made us feel proud, who inspires us daily and teaches us that hurdles are meant to be jumped.
By: Sue Walker