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An Australian Christmas

by Suzanne Yanko

Whatever your faith, or views about Christmas, these last weeks before the main event make it a great time to be a music-lover in Melbourne. Not only do the big companies pull out all the stops with full-on productions of ballet, pantomime and even opera, symphony orchestras look through their scores for music with popular appeal, and choirs show off the results of those weekly practices, offering everything from traditional carols to annual performances of the mighty Messiah. Audiences are spoiled for choice and often don’t have to pay a fortune for the privilege of going to a performance, with schools, local councils and even churches putting on shows or hosting them.

Classic Melbourne is loud in its praise for musicians at many levels, and hopes you can find just the right concert or play for your family. In particular, we believe that children should be introduced early to the delights of the arts, especially music, not just as audiences but also as participants. That’s why we’re hoping to see our Christmas calendar full of events, and why we suggest that a ticket makes a fine present, especially when you go along too. Choose something you can afford, possibly local, maybe in the city, and show your support for our creative artists, at whatever level that may be.

We’d like to highlight everything that appears on our calendar, but we don’t have the space … so instead, here’s something a little different, involving young performers (and older ones!) and put on by names we trust. In fact they sent us news of just one show, but we noticed there’s another one you might choose instead, or go to both! The organisation is simply called THECHO!R, and here’s their story about what to expect…

Did you know November is Australian Music Month? THECHO!R does, and is presenting Australian Songbook to pay homage to our great Australian music, in a concert they modestly describe as “sensational”. Australian Songbook is on Sunday, November 19 at 3pm in the Collingwood Town Hall. Dr Jonathon Welch AM, Artistic Director of THECHO!R explains: “This will be a truly special concert of popular, new and contemporary Australian music, with Deborah Cheetham AO and the Dhungala Children’s Choir as our special guests.”

Established in 2009 by Yorta Yorta soprano, composer and educator Cheetham and pianist Toni Lalich, Dhungala Children’s Choir is an award-winning ensemble for Indigenous children between the ages of 9 and 17. For thousands of years the Yorta Yorta people have passed down their traditions, language, dreaming and culture through song on their country. Dhungala Children’s Choir (DCC) is a continuation of this tradition. DCC gave its debut performance in the SheppARTon festival performance RiverSong and has since become a strong presence in Shepparton, Geelong and throughout Victoria.

THECHO!R was also created in 2009, by Jonathon Welch. One of Melbourne’s most exciting community adult choirs, it has performed extensively throughout Victoria, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, raising thousands of dollars to support other community related music activities. All funds from this concert will be going to support Dhungala Children’s Choir. “I can’t wait for everyone to come together at this concert,” says Jonathon, with his customary enthusiasm. “We will be performing such a mix of glorious Australian music. We will also be premiering Wominjeka Birrarunga – many voices, a beautiful new work by Deborah, commissioned by THECHO!R.”

Now where Jonathon is, the School of Hard Knocks will not be far away, and so we find them presenting another choice: a Christmas concert, Merry & Bright, on Sunday November 26 at 2pm at Deakin Edge Theatre, Federation Square. The School of Hard Knocks invites you to celebrate Social Inclusion Week at their final, spectacular concert for 2017! Join Founding Artistic Director Dr Jonathon Welch AM and the magnificent sound of the 350 voice massed “Absolutely Everybody” choir, with special guests including:

  • Internationally acclaimed contralto Liane Keegan and opera stars of the future, XL ARTS
  • Multi award winning Choir of Hard Knocks conducted by Dr Jonathon Welch AM
  • Queensland’s Absolutely Everybody Brisbane Choir conducted by Melissa Gill
  • Award winning Footscray-Yarraville City Band led by Phillipa Edwards
  • THECHO!R conducted by Dr Jonathon Welch AM
  • School of Hard Knocks’ Absolutely Everybody choirs including the Voices of Casey, Latrobe Valley Community Choir, Voices of Frankston, Choir of Opportunity, Voices of Alfred, Western Health Singers, All Together Choir and MEN ALOUD

IF you like Christmas to be big, different and uniquely Australian, these two concerts are likely to hit the spot. if you can’t choose between them, that’s easy to resolve: go to both!

Need to know:

Tickets for both concerts are now on sale. Book for both through THECHO!R’s website at http://thechoir.com.au/

  1. Australian Songbook

Sunday, November 19 at 3pm in the Collingwood Town Hall.

Cabaret style seating (tables of 10) and refreshments available.

Tickets $35 adult/ $28 concession & U18/ $110 family of 4

  1. Merry & Bright

Sunday November 26 at 2pm at Deakin Edge Theatre, Federation Square.

Tickets $25 Full / $20 concession / $15 U18 / $75 Family


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