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 !!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Starlets and Sparkles Dazzle at the Somerset Civic Centre

Let Me Entertain You - Opening the Show

Over the years, the Esk Community Choir has often performed under testing circumstances, from chasing flies from the back of a hay wagon to finding space in an obsolete Shearing Shed amid spider webs and dust, the audience perched on engorged wool bales.  However,  a  temporary black-out during the opening musical bracket at 'STARLETS AND SPARKLES'  on July 19th has to have been not just another first but a testament to the extraordinary  talents of the 'Hostess with the Mostest', Alexis FitzGerald, when she was able to continue her sublime accompaniment in complete darkness without missing a beat! 

Nola Niemeyer
It was a shared love of music which brought so many concert goers to the Somerset Civic Centre for this afternoon of uplifting performances from members and friends of the Esk Community Choir and The Semitones.   Many came early and, with a complimentary glass of bubbly in hand, perused the many pieces of exquisite jewellery, perchance to make purchases at bargain prices.  At 2.30pm, with a colourful opening of songs by animated small groups as well as  the warmth of Nola Neimeyer's 'Getting to Know You' ,  the  audience  was left in no doubt of the  fun and surprises that lay ahead and it was on with the show! 
With music by Jule Styne, Col Porter and   Rodgers  and Hammerstein  
having set the scene,
The Semitones


The Semitones, scattering sweets as they came
to the stage, also brought something of their ownmusical magic to the afternoon with songs from'Oliver', 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' and
'The Little Mermaid', including Nedi Granzien's heart warming performance
of "Part of Your World'; a soaring little bright star.
Nedi Granzien

Eric von Nida and Maree Lansdown

Marina's sound could well have been that ' Nightingale in Berkley Square'.  John Caffin gave a heady performance of 'The Impossible Dream'.  Who could not feel the happiness during Maree and Eric's duet?  and move over Judith Durham...Robyn Bagster's 'Georgy Girl' has just moved in! 

What better way to hail the half- way of a concert full of sparkle than with Kathleen Watts' glowing performance of 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend'?

Elvis in the Building 

With Raffles and all manner of other prizes drawn and won, interval was over and a hush began to filter through the auditorium along with a mysterious cloud of fog.  A 'Suprise Guest'!! But who could it be?  Then out of the mist, in all his white gleaming glory, 'Elvis' aka Lloyd King, bounded onto the stage and, with mannerisms and a voice second only to 'The Pelvis' himself, gave his all to the excited audience.  Two songs later, 'Elvis' may have left the building but also a thrilled audience wanting more.

Variety being the spice, of which this concert was made, an immediate change of pace saw the rest of the programme filled with some beautiful songs from Musical Theatre.  Sue Walker's passionate performance of  Lloyd- Webber's 'Tell Me on a Sunday', Jo Robbins' lovely rendition of the celebrated 'Caro Mio Ben';   'Seeing is Believing', another by Lloyd-Webber performed by Kathleen and John with all the emotion this song portrayed,  all gave way to the brilliant performance by  pianist, Emiko Ota.   

How lucky is this Region to have someone of the calibre of this accomplished pianist whose motivation is her need to share her music with all who will listen.  Mozart was truly gifted.  Emiko Ota brought his music to life once more on this afternoon.
With Sue Walker frocked up as Eliza Doolittle and Roger Woodman as her Dad along with the entire cast of performers, it was with a medley of songs  from Lerner and Lowe's 'My Fair Lady'  which climaxed in fitting style this sparkling afternoon of music.  

Full of the joy that music brings,   concert goers trickled into the foyer to further  fill on kindly conversation over a glass of wine and platters of  tantalizing titbits so creatively put together by Culinary Queen,  Sue Cox and her band of energetic Angels.
Emiko creating coffee magic

To all who came to share in this day, the 2016 Esk Touring Choir wishes to give their thanks for your generous support of this fund-raising event.  To Alexis, without whom this day would not have been, your guidance, energy and talents are limitless and for this, a Choir and a Community are constantly grateful, and to our many benefactors whose arms seem never too tired to reach out, the Esk Community Choir will always be indebted.

Robyn Bagster - Georgie Girl

Kathleen - Diamonds are a
Girls Best Friend
Jo Robbins

Roger Woodman -
Get Me To the Church
On Time
John Caffin

Susan Walker
Wouldn't It Be Loverly
Marina Crichton - A Nightingale
Sang in Berkley Square

Kathleen and John - Seeing is Believing

The Semitones - The Little Mermaid

Maree and Carolyn sampling The Sparkles on Sale.