Finding their VOYCE

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Published: 24th June, 2014

Victorian Opera announced the establishment of its Victorian Opera Youth Chorus Ensemble for 13 – 25 year-old young singers at the Fairfax Studio on Thursday night, June 19. Peter Williams was there for Classic Melbourne.

Managing Director, Andrew Snell, proudly announced VOYCE and spoke of it as filling a void in Victorian Opera’s projects between the school projects and the Masters Programs. It was not just a choir, he said, as it sought to develop the voice, language and the stagecraft of performance. Another end result of the program would be to develop and train future opera audiences. He noted that the number of Under 30 tickets outnumbered the number of Senior tickets for La Traviata – opera is neither a dying art, nor only for the older audience.

Another aspect of VOYCE was the support from the Newsboys Foundation which gives disadvantaged youth “an opportunity to be involved in musical life which can reconnect them with the education system” as their representative director explained.

Co-directors Angus Grant and Jonathon Bam took the singers through four pieces. First was a well-sung Bach chorale in German (the current production for schools of Hansel and Gretel is in the original language). The second piece – The Death of Dido – illustrated how programs could develop and overlap, as the title role was sung by Kirilly Blytheman from the Masters program. It was semi-staged and the students demonstrated their ability to concentrate and respond to the action, in singing, in movement, as well as in stagecraft to engage the audience. ”One” from A Chorus Line demonstrated the vigour, exciting tone and attack of which they were capable. The delightful program finished with an extended section from the end of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe which again called on their diction, relaying of text and singing skills, as well as stage focus and connecting with the audience.

It was Richard Mills who supplied the summation “to enable Victorians to sing” and he spoke of regional Victorian projects being planned for next year.

Two of the choir members ended the evening with their experience of how VOYCE was providing them with opportunities to connect and share with others, whilst learning and having opportunities to perform.

Well done VOYCE – their tee-shirt said it all “I FOUND MY VOYCE”!


Editor’s note: Victorian Opera’s next production is Sondheim’s Into the Woods, at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse, July 19-26.
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