At yesterday’s sell-out concert I had to ask myself several times whether it was really 13 years since Melbourne was introduced to its new choir. I have strong memories of standing in a queue which snaked around Melbourne Town Hall, and an excited buzz of anticipation in the crowd. A couple of hours later that had turned to excited conversation, following the revelation of both the concept of the street choir, and the quality of the Choir of Hard Knocks, thanks to its founder and conductor, Jonathan Welch.
Their success and influence in the mushrooming of similar choirs has been well documented in the lead up to this concert, billed as “Seasons of Love”.
David Johnson treated us to a burst of sound from the full powerful town hall organ (which currently has no peer in the city’s concert halls) provided an impressive start to the afternoon of music, and the Welcome to Country added gravitas.
But it was Jonathon and the Choir that the audience wanted. They soon arrived, Jon dapper in a bright blue jacket, leading the Choir in a chorus of “We’re Still Here” which, straight away, had the audience clapping and joining in with gusto.
This set the pattern for the afternoon, which was more of a gathering of friends to reflect, sing a few songs and catch up with the news (of which more later). It was not a formal program as featured in their 10th anniversary concert.
But, to everyone’s satisfaction they did perform their signature piece, “Hallelujah”, with as much conviction as ever.
And so the evening continued, with Jonathon proudly sharing success stories of some individual choir members, but most importantly, the Choir of Hard Knocks itself. We even had a foray into composition by one of the longer-term members.
We heard of the new arrangements for the direction of the choir. (See media release below.) And we heard something of Jonathon’s plans for the future. This became tangible when many more black-clad choristers filed to the stage to join the Choir of Hard Knocks, just in time for a few rousing numbers with the audience joining in!
The evening ended as it began, all those years ago, with loud, confident voices raised celebrating success and hopes for the future. It was good to be with the singers on both occasions!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday 3 June, Melbourne, Victoria
CHOIR OF HARD KNOCKS ANNOUNCES NEW CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTORS
Melbourne Street Choir Inc. is very excited to announce the appointment of Danielle Matthews and Adam Przewlocki as Co-Artistic Directors to lead the Choir of Hard Knocks in the future.
After 13 years at the helm of Australia’s most famous and loved, award winning choir, its Founding Artistic Director, Dr Jonathon Welch AM,conducted his Melbourne farewell Choir of Hard Knocks concert “Seasons of Love” at Melbourne Town Hall on Sunday 2 June, 2019.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Adam and Danielle will work together with the choir members now and take them on to an exciting new chapter in the Choir of Hard Knocks’ journey. I’ve known them both professionally and personally for many years, and they’re outstanding performing artists and have such great empathy. The choir is in the best hands artistically moving forward” said Founding Artistic Director, Dr Jonathon Welch AM upon his retirement from the role.
On announcement of the appointments, Adam Przewlocki said: “I feel deeply humbled and privileged to come on board as Co-Artistic Director of Choir of Hard Knocks as they move forward into their next chapter.
What my dear friend Jonathon has galvanised with this group of extraordinary human beings is truly remarkable and unique and I am so excited to now have the opportunity to play a part in the choir’s continued journey.”
Danielle Matthews also expressed her joy in undertaking the new role, saying “I’m so privileged and honoured to be able to take on this role. I can remember watching the Choir of Hard Knocks documentary 13 years ago and being so inspired. Never would I have imagined that one day I would be leading that very choir!
My mother was a teacher of the blind and disabled for 40 years and I grew up with people the world considered to be different–physically, mentally or both. For me, they were home. I understood them and they understood me.
I am so grateful that I can continue to share my journey of life and music with this amazing group of people who to the outside world may seem different but to me are perfect. They are family. Thank you Jonathon. I’m truly blessed.”
Danielle and Adam have worked together in the past and are looking forward to working as Co-Artistic Directors of the Choir of Hard Knocks. The Choir meet and rehearse on Mondays at St Michael’s in Collins Street.