Founded in 1978 by its present Musical Director, Alexis FitzGerald O.A.M., the ESK COMMUNITY CHOIR began as an enthusiastic little singing group of 6 ladies. This year, 2017, marks the 39th year that the now almost 50 member SATB Choir, under the continuous inspiring direction of its founder, has been honing the talents of its members, entertaining audiences and living its motto 'Service in Song'. So engaging is participation in this Choir that many of its members travel to weekly practices from as far afield as Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gatton and Laidley.
This is a Community Choir and as such, no formal audition is 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 9pm 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 Esk Community Choir.
Singing a large and varied repertoire of secular, popular and sacred music, the choir has remained in constant public demand for countless concerts, fund-raising, charity and celebratory performances in the Somerset Region and beyond. They have, on a number of occasions, joined with Choirs from other regions most recently, in November 2016, uniting in song with 4 other Choirs at the invitation of The Blackbutt Singers for the Blackbutt Choir's 25th Anniversary celebrations creating Choral sounds at their finest.
Alexis and her Choristers are quietly proud of their 38 years of achievements which have included many local concert and charity performances, collaborations with International Choirs at the Sydney Opera House and the staging of full Musical Productions and Theatre Restaurants. In 2015, audiences were wowed by the Choir's fully costumed presentation of "Excerpts from Les Misérables" only to be followed in 2016 by yet another costumed gala event with music from " The Phantom of the Opera", the stages of the Somerset Civic Centre, Alexandra Hall, Toogoolawah and The Gatton Shire Hall magically transformed into the 'Opera House Populaire', right down to the creation of that imposing chandelier.
In 2004, the Somerset Music Awards was initiated by Alexis. It is a biennial event hosted by The Esk Community Choir which has built a worthy legacy of music and the performance of it in the Community.
The event open to residents of any age in the Somerset and Lockyer Valley Regions is an adjudicated performance experience providing a platform from which the young and not so young can showcase their performance skills and 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 as well as 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, 'The Semitones' was formed in 2010. This is a talented little singing group of boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 11 years who love to sing. Mentored by Alexis, The Semitones have become regulars on the performance scene, their talents only surpassed by their enthusiasm and energy. Alexis is always on the lookout for new little songsters to be part of the group.
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. Previous tours have encompassed Concerts, Choral Festivals and Competitions throughout Ireland, England, Italy, Vienna, Prague and Germany. These included life-affirming performances at Budapest's beautiful Matthias Church, in April, 2014, 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 Salzburg Dom. 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 scheduled for 2019.
And as we reflect on past triumphs and achievements, rehearsals have begun for some amazing performance events in 2017 commencing on April 9th with " And So I Sing", the opening concert featuring the internationally acclaimed " Pacific Trio" and two performances of a Gilbert and Sullivan Extravaganza in September/October including the wit, sentiment and charm of "Trial By Jury". 2018 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Esk Community Choir and promises to be a magical year of momentous musical events to celebrate this auspicious milestone.
Tuesday night rehearsals are a time 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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