Western District Choral Festival 2018: Sunday, June 17th, 2018

The Space, Geelong Grammar School

Festival hosts – The Geelong Chorale

Today’s festival was a celebration of song and the joy that people obtain from singing together in groups.  Fourteen choirs participated in an afternoon of fine music making and friendship.  It was a chance for choirs to perform at their best.  They did not disappoint.

The program began with the host choir, The Geelong Chorale, and was introduced by John Stubbings OAM, who acted as MC throughout the afternoon.

The music ranged from a 16th century madrigal, to folk songs from around the world, through popular songs, songs from musical theatre and old favourites.  Even opera had its place, with a delightful rendition of ‘Painless Opera’ by Phyllis Wolfe-White by the Geelong Youth Choir.  The smallest group was 8 voices (The Geelong Youth Chamber Choir), the largest around 40 voices (The Geelong Chorale).  There were youth choirs, mixed choirs, a female choir (Welsh Ladies Choir), and a male choir (International Harvester Choir).  The youngest singers were of primary school age, and the oldest at least 90.

As Geelong is at the eastern end of the WDCF region, many choirs came from the Geelong area.  The two groups from further afield, Colac Chorale and Apollo Bay Community Choir were warmly welcomed and greatly enhanced the afternoon’s singing.

The afternoon ended with all singers merging onto the stage for a massed choir performance of “Africa”, conducted by Jodie Townsend, Director of Music at Geelong Grammar School.

It is interesting to note that The International Harvester Male Chorus (formed in 1943) may be the oldest continuously performing choir in Australia in its current form.  Raise the Bar, the adult section of The Geelong Youth Choir will be the featured choir for a forthcoming performance of “The Events” at GPAC.  Geelong Harmony Chorus are fresh from a very successful Sweet Adelines Convention in Hobart, where they were placed fourth overall, and third in their section.

At the close of the Festival, Frank Sykes, Vice-President of The Geelong Chorale, handed over the Festival to The Merri Singers from Warrnambool who will host the festival in 2019.

Participating Choirs:  The Geelong Chorale, Colac Chorale, Wondrous Merry, Apollo Bay Community Choir, Geelong Youth Choir, Raise the Bar Vocal Group, Geelong Harmony Chorus, Welsh Ladies Choir, International Harvester Choir, Sing Australia, Geelong, Vox Box, U3A Geelong Choir, Geelong College Community Choir, The Choir of Geelong Grammar School.

Thanks to The Geelong Chorale, especially their hard working committee, and secretary Angela West, Geelong Grammar School and Jodie Townsend, for accommodating the festival in the excellent performing arts space and all participating choirs and their conductors and accompanists.  Thanks also to City of Greater Geelong for their support.

Download a copy of the Western District Choral Festival 2018 program here.

 

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Geelong Harmony Chorus croons into fourth place in national titles

Geelong Harmony comes fourth in national competition

Geelong Harmony has returned home from the Sweet Adelines Australia national a cappella competition in Hobart on 19 May with medals for fourth place in a field of 23, and third place in the medium chorus division of 13.

The chorus received a total score of 592 points from four International judges in categories of sound, expression, music, and showmanship.

‘We are excited and proud to have received our highest score ever, and to make an improvement of 39 points on our score at last year’s competition’ said Musical Director Alex Morris.

‘Our 35 singers gave heartfelt, energetic and entertaining performances of our two contest songs, winning us a well-deserved spot among Australia’s top five choruses for 2018.  This is an amazing feat for us, placing us well ahead of several larger choruses.’

The top five place getters performed in a special showcase on Saturday night at Wrest Point, with Geelong Harmony singing Alex Morris’ four-part arrangement of ‘Constant Craving’ by K. D. Lang.

You can catch Geelong Harmony perform their contest package on17 June as part of the Western District Choral Festival at the SPACE, Geelong Grammar, 2-5.00pm. Tickets are $10, including afternoon tea.

The Geelong Harmony a cappella women’s chorus rehearses every Monday night at the Western Heights Uniting Church Hall, 31 Douglass Street, Herne Hill, 6.45 to 10.00pm. New members are welcome. For more information visit www.geelongharmony.com.au, call the Membership Manager on 0406 666 737, or email contact@geelongharmony.com.au

Some photos from Sneak Peek a couple of weeks ago.

Three barbershop quartets

Sneak Peek – Geelong Harmony Chorus: Monday, May 7th, 2018

Western Heights Uniting Church

Once again this accomplished women’s barbershop choir presented a preview of their items for the annual Sweet Adeline’s Convention and Regional Competition.  This year’s  event is to be held in Hobart from 17-20 May.  As usual there was a packed house of followers, families and other music lovers.

Geelong Harmony is conducted by Alex Morris, a multi-talented musical dynamo, who introduced the choir under ‘competition conditions’ as if he were MC at the convention.

From the appearance of the first singers this group showed their professionalism, ascending the choir risers with relaxed precision.  The music began with one note – tuning from an electronic A, a la orchestra!  Then the chorus launched into the first of their two competition pieces At Last My Love has come Along and Looking at the World Through Rose Coloured GlassesThe choir not only sounds wonderful, but is also a visual treat.  All eyes focus (adoringly) on musical director Alex, with gestures facial expressions reflecting the emotional impact of the music.  The blend is impeccable, harmony precise, and diction clear.  The ebb and flow of tempo in the first song was faultless.  Dynamics ranged from very soft to full fortissimo, without any loss of vocal tone.  However, it’s the overwhelming joy in singing and sense of togetherness and warmth that is the overriding impression of this fine group.

At the start of Rose Coloured Glasses, two singers wooed Alex with bouquets of spangled red roses.  By the end of the piece, every singer sported either a large sparkly red rosette or was holding a shimmering red bloom.  Not to be outdone, Alex Morris now sported a rose-emblazoned waist coat!

After thunderous applause, and a pause for a publicity photo and raffle draw, the concert resumed with quartets.  Three Geelong Harmony quartets will be competing at Hobart this year.  Two were represented in the Sneak Peek concert, as well as a mixed quartet – giving Alex Morris the chance to show off his vocal abilities as lead.  This quartet, called Around the Blend, comprises two members of Geelong Harmony, Alex, and the husband of one of the chorus – and had come second in a barbershop competition last year.  They presented If Ever I Would Leave You (from Camelot), and I Got Rhythm

Only two of the women’s quartets were available to perform at Sneak Peek.  The first was Push Play who sang Are You Lonesome Tonight and Back in the Old Routine with precision and lots of humour – and a surprise tap dance at the end from one talented member.  This was followed by Something Else, who, attired in long black frocks and sporting identical ‘diamond’ necklaces, sang Who’s Fifty Now – a riotous song with lots of theatrical interplay.  The second piece I Won’t Care… if You Love Me showed a fine togetherness and some beautiful singing from the top voice – with an exquisitely controlled extended long high note in the final chord.

Geelong Harmony then returned to the stage to repeat their contest songs, and also presented some other items from their repertoire – Blue Indigo, Constant Cravings (the only diction glitch occurred here – at least one audience member heard ‘constant gravy’), and Under the Southern Skies.  Finally, Alex Morris invited all past and present members of Geelong Harmony Chorus to join the competition group to sing one of the group’s signature pieces How We Sang Tonight.  It was a joyful night of fine music-making.

We wish Geelong Harmony Chorus well for their singing in Hobart.  We know that, whatever the outcome of the competition, all the singers will have a wonderful time, with lots of music, friendship and laughter.

Keep watching the Choral Grapevine and Geelong Harmony’s Facebook page to hear news from Hobart and see lots more photos.

Past and present members of Geelong Harmony present “How We Sang Today’

Geelong Harmony Chorus: Do you love to sing?

The Geelong Harmony Chorus are on a recruitment drive for new singers.  If you’re female and enjoy singing with others, come along for four weeks of fun, fellowship and music.

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Christmas Cheer with Geelong Harmony Chorus: Friday December 11th, 2015

Thanks to Marie Goldsworthy for this report.

Geelong Harmony Chorus presented a vibrant pre-Christmas concert at the Vines Road Community Centre on Saturday 11th Dec. Dressed in celebratory colours, with bright red tops over white pants and individually-chosen green jewellery, they began with an arrangement of Silent Night. Every nuance from the well-prepared first note to the end of the last was gestured and moulded by the expressive hands of their skillful conductor, Alex Morris.

Huge swells of sound, the Sweet Adelines trademarks of alert stance and raised eyebrows, the diction always excellent, even a well-rehearsed “ssshhh” featured in successive songs Santa Baby, Jingle Bell Rock, Who’s That Baby In A Manger Bare? Some new recruits joined the group on the risers to demonstrate the results of a recent workshop, singing the Australian song The Silver Stars, then a quartet from within the group, “Push Play”, demonstrated their exquisite intonation even through challenging key changes. A second quartet “Something Else” presented Winter Wonderland, O Little Town Of Bethlehem and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, reflecting the American origin of this barbershop style of unaccompanied harmony singing.

In between items various members of the group stepped forward to recount some special recollections of Christmases past. After a generous afternoon tea-break, the group presented repertoire being prepared for the national competition next May, which included the dynamic Nine To Five, There Goes My Heart, Never Say Never Again, and quieter reflective numbers such as the Canadian carol I Wonder As I Wander and O Holy Night. All songs are fairly short, but all are memorized. The pyramid structure of barbershop harmonies mean that the lower voices are strongest, and taper up in numbers to the top line.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and The Parting Glass brought this enjoyable presentation to a close and, after rousing applause, the encore Can’t Buy Me Love, the latter two marred for this listener only by the American vowels in such quintessentially British songs. Gorgeous a cappella harmonies indeed!

  • Marie Goldsworthy