The Esk Community Choir was created by Alexis FitzGerald O.A.M. in 1978 and for 40 years Alexis has been welcoming a passing parade of members to the ranks of its original 6 ladies. So engaging is participation in this Choir that many of its members travel to weekly practices from as far afield as Brisbane, Toowoomba, Bribie Island and Warwick. After forty years of living its motto “Service in Song”, this wonderful Choir now has an SATB membership of close to fifty, all gearing up for some fabulous 40th Birthday Celebrations worthy of this unique milestone.
As a Community Choir, there are no formal auditions imposed upon singers wishing to join, though a basic knowledge of music is advantageous. Membership does, however, guarantee fun, fellowship, very low-cost therapy and of course, SINGING – underscored by an ever-growing love for beautiful music. Choir rehearsals are held from 6.30pm to 9.00pm every Tuesday night in the Assembly Hall of the Esk State School, East Street, Esk.
The members are, on occasion, encouraged to audition for the smaller Esk Ensemble – a committed performance group within the Choir.
Alexis and her Choristers are quietly proud of their 39 years of achievements which have included many local concerts and charity performances. As far back as 1993, they staged their first full Musical Production, Oklahoma with many others to follow. They have entertained audiences with Theatre Restaurants, collaborations with many other Choirs and on two occasions, with International Choirs and Conductors at the Sydney Opera House. In 2016 audiences were wowed by the Choir’s fully costumed presentation of Excerpts from to be followed in 2017 by a Gilbert and Sullivan Spectacular thrilling audiences at both Esk and Gatton where, following the colourful performances of some of the acclaimed duo’s most enduring songs, the stages were transformed into a 1940s courtroom with fabulous sets and a brilliant cast of characters from the Choir who brought to life the comic opera, Trial By Jury.
Another worthy musical legacy has been the running of The Somerset Music Awards. This biennial event, initiated by Alexis in 2004 and hosted by the Choir, is open to participants of any age who are resident in the Somerset or Lockyer Valley areas. It will again be held this year on August 25th at St Agnes’s Anglican Hall, Esk commencing at 10.00am. Nomination forms are available through this website/upcoming events. Both vocal and instrumental performers, sectioned age appropriately, are given advice and encouragement by an accredited music judge enabling entrants to realize their musical abilities in a non-threatening environment. A flow-on effect has seen many choir members, under the tutelage of Alexis, take it upon themselves to improve their knowledge and understanding of singing and performance skills by sitting for St Cecilia School of Music examinations with exceptional results.
To encourage and inspire a whole new generation of singers in the Somerset Region, a small ensemble of talented little singers aged between 5 and 11 years was formed by Alexis in 2010. The Semitones’ singing skills were developed and mentored and the group soon became regulars on the performance scene, their talents only surpassed by their energy and enthusiasm. Sadly, most of these talented tots have now become ‘tweens’ and have moved on to high schools and other pursuits. However, Alexis will always be on the lookout for another batch of little songsters to nurture their love of music and perhaps again form the next little group of Semitones.
Since 2006, many of the Choir members have formed 'Touring Choirs', a group of 30 having returned in October 2016 from the choir's fifth successful performance tour, this time to Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria. The various tours have encompassed Concerts, Choral Festivals and Competitions throughout Ireland, England, Italy, Vienna, Prague and Germany. Life-affirming were the thrill of performances at Budapest's magnificent Matthias Church, a rare invitation to perform in London's St Paul's Cathedral and during the most recent tour, performances in both the Brussels Cathedral and the breathtaking. Equally humbling along the way were the standing ovations from grateful audiences in rustic little churches, Rehabilitation Centres and Aged Care facilities. Already the wheels have been set in motion for yet another overseas tour to Italy scheduled for May 2019.
And so as this ruminates on past triumphs and achievements, rehearsals are in motion for some amazing 40th anniversary celebratory events in 2018 commencing on April 8th with an Opening Concert reflecting chapters of the Choir’s history with an assembling of members past and present. May 6th and Love is in the Air at Toogoolawah’s Alexandra Hall; August 5th and again on 11th will be A Knight to Remember, a wacky, wicked Theatre Restaurant and October 14th a Gala Choral Event with invited Choirs filling the Somerset Civic Centre with the glorious sounds of massed choirs, a climactic finale to a year of remarkable celebrations. All the event details can be found on this website/ Upcoming Events.
Tuesday nights at the rehearsal hall are times and place where lovers of music are always welcomed and encouraged to participate, perchance to become Choir members. To sing with this Choir is to understand the joys of Choral singing and a celebration of what Choral music can bring.
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