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.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Esk Community Choir at the Salvation Army Hall in Toowoomba July 2015

For a Choir approaching the 38th year of its journey, it is not easy to still be creating 'Firsts'.   Concerts sung  from the backs of hay wagons to stellar performances in places including  the Sydney Opera House, magnificent  St Paul's Cathedral  in London and Budapest's Matthias have all been new and life-changing experiences gone to plan with Alexis doing what she does so well,  directing her Choir.  However, on Tuesday, July 7th, it was but a virulent little flu bug which  became the cause of yet another 'First' when for once on a performance day, Alexis was confined to bed and Kathleen, with little notice,  was called to sub for her, confidently and competently filling the breach at Toowoomba's Salvation Army Church.
And so it was from the inspiring words of "Open the Gates of the Temple", led by Bob Hardy's sublime opening solo, to the uplifting finalé from ' Les Misérables', "Do You Hear the People Sing" prefaced by the poignant harmonies from the trio of Kathleen, Bob and Nola, that the Choir gave their all to a wonderfully appreciative audience who filled the delightful Church on an equally delightful Winter's morning in Toowoomba. 
Few could not have been moved by Roland Cox's reverential rendition of Malotte's "The Lord's Prayer" nor Eric Von Nida's emotive performance of "Enemy of Apathy". Put to music, this is a beautiful poem which speaks of the Holy Spirit in the feminine gender.    Many memories and goose bumps surely would have been stirred during Bob Hardy's warm and tender performance of "Bluebird of Happiness" and Carolyn and Lloyd Kings' heart- tugging love montage from 'Les Misérables' was delivered with the sensitivity its words evoke.  As always, the musical gifts of Margaret Philp on piano and Suzanne Clemence on flute, individually and together added another depth of beauty to the Choir's performance.

Roland Cox  presenting 'The Lord's Prayer' supported by the Choir for the Amen.

Neither a first, nor, it is hoped a last, was the presence of Mr Bernie Snepp, a staunch supporter and friend of the Choir who has been giving the gift of his talents behind his recording device for 28 years, allowing the Choir to sound like the Choir they strive to be and putting that sound on CD for all to share for posterity.  Bernie, at the tender age of 88, now somewhat restricted with his mobility, has decided to go into early retirement.  His offer to record the Choir's performance on this day was both humbling and appreciated as was his own reaction on receiving the Choir's token of their gratitude and love.

Bernie Snepp - baptism of kisses

The sharing of music and singing is so much a part of what this Choir is about and to have been able to give this gift to Eva, her band of willing and welcoming 'Angels' and to such an appreciative audience at Toowoomba's Salvation Army was also a gift in return.
by: Sue Walker

Monday, June 8, 2015


Eager Travelers for the Tour of Europe 2016

With Many of the globetrotters still with visions of Leprechauns dancing in their heads, 28 members of the Esk Community Choir are once again about to launch into preparations for another European Tour in October, 2016, once more bringing the reputation of the Somerset Region and the music of this amazing Choir to places far, far away. 

The coffee wasn't the only thing percolating at the Touring Choir's Meet and Greet on May 31st. Hosted by Alexis at her  Coal Creek home, the serenity of the colourful surrounds belied the excitement bubbling over in anticipation of the Traveler's receiving their first glimpses into the repertoire for the tour along with a window into the journey the tourists will be taking. 

The next 16 months will be full of the joys of perfecting a repertoire which will surely be for Alexis a labour of love, for her choir, a wonderful echo of their dedication and a showcase of some beautiful music reflecting amongst the diverse repertoire, the talents of inspiring Australian song writers. 

With fund raising now a focus, the first off the mark will be Starlets and Sparkles , a concert filled with dazzling variety. Commencing at 2.30pm on Sunday the 19th July at the Somerset Civic Centre, the quality of the performances will resonate alongside some amazing jewellery pieces for sale creating an excitingly fresh dimension to Concerts on a Sunday afternoon.
by Sue Walker

A Beautiful painting of a Queensland Beach donated to be raffled.

Let's Fly Away - Marina and Ellise ready for the adventure

Monday, April 27, 2015


by Sue Walker
Though the population of Esk may be tiny compared to the thousands who lined the streets of Capital Cities or filled the places at magnificent shrines now standing in Gallipoli and France, the spirit of the ANZACs was no less felt by the record numbers who attended the commemorations held at the Cenotaph in Esk Memorial Park on April 25th.
Paying their respects to the soldiers of war, many locals attended the Dawn Service which signaled the beginning of a day to mark the 100 years since those Australian and New Zealand soldiers scrambled ashore on that Turkish beach. Soldiers whose spirits have moved generations ever since.  As the sun rose over Mt Brisbane to shine on the day, the parade of local veterans and descendants of men and women who fought on the many fields of war, marching to the beat of the brilliant City of Brisbane Pipe Band, made their way down the main street to join the record numbers who gathered for the very moving ceremony hosted by Esk's RSL President, Charlie Elwell.
A flyover by F/A 18 Super Hornets from the RAAF, Amberley, heralded the singing of the Australian and New Zealand Anthems by Maree Landsdown and Sue Walker, followed then by the heart-felt welcoming addresses by Charlie Elwell and Mayor Graeme Lehmann. Prayers and inspiring poems were delivered alongside the Esk Community Choir who paid tribute in hymn and song. Included in these was the singing of "The Soul of Australia", a stirring piece written by Brisbane's Tim Sherlock, a song also sung this year by his own Choir to the masses who gathered at Gallipoli.
Father Hegarty's moving Prayer for the Fallen was followed by an address by Guest speaker, Dr Tony FitzGerald, Esk's longest serving member of the Esk Sub-Branch of the RSL and a time honoured and respected resident of the town. Dr. FitzGerald eloquently delivered a poignant reflection of the courage of the ANZACs during which he alluded to the heroism of soldiers from Esk. The gravesites of these men were recently sought and identified in a field close to Villers Bretonneux, France, and their names are proudly engraved amongst the many on Esk's truly magnificent monument. The Vale was followed by a solemn Laying of The Wreaths and the always emotive act of remembrance, The Last Post, followed by Reveille, played faultlessly by Matthew Lukritz. Father Hegarty's final benediction and the ceremonious departure of the Catafalque Party saw the crowd disperse to enjoy the day ... to reflect on history and to rise to challenges made easier for many by those who in 1915 and since, courageously rose to theirs.



The ANZAC Day march through Esk led by Charlie Elwell

   City of Brisbane Pipe Band

    Esk Community Choir


Recreation of Simpson and His Donkey - Joshua

The Riderless Horse, ANZAC Parade Esk 2015