I’ve been grappling with the question of why we have so little Y chromosomes in Community singing in general? As you know males differ from Females in that they contain both X and Y chromosomes in their genetic make up, however females have two X chromosomes and yet they constitute the majority of vocal groups. This trend is not necessarily reflected in soloist artist careers with great names like ‘John Farnham’ and ‘Anthony Warlow’ to name just a couple of Australian stand out performers. Given all we know about the benefits of group singing why is it that so many Australian men shy away from this healthy activity.
We’ve got a great bunch of guys at MCCHOIR however they are desperately outnumbered by the women. Of course if you’re a single guy you might think this is a good thing! But in term of balancing a group of singers, there’s nothing quite like a deep bass or male driven Tenor part to lift a performance.
I have only ever experienced men singing together en mass once in my lifetime and I have to tell you it was an awe inspiring moment. A room full of men singing with passion and gusto has a way of stirring something deep inside that has been missing from our culture for far too long.
One of our younger male members, Daniel wrote on his facebook post recently “I love to sing... I want to develop my singing so I can one-day perform as a soloist. That’s my dream... I'll get there. Music makes me safe, makes me happy...”
Can I tell you this young man performed at our concert spectacular in front of 400 guests just the other weekend and absolutely blew the audience away with his solo in “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!NK and Nate Ruess. One audience member was so impacted by the lyrics of this song that she became quite emotional and felt a real connection with the choir (and our soloist).
Perhaps you once sang because it was a requirement at school to be part of the choir, or maybe you enjoy playing guitar and would like to develop some vocal skills to compliment your instrumental skills, or perhaps you’ve just become so busy with work that your musical aspirations have been put on the back burner.
Can I say that everyone of our members lead busy lives, but they find that the small investment in time to attend rehearsals and listen to tracks during the week in the car on their way to work or when they have a spare moment, pays off huge dividends. There’s a buzz you get from performing together, the social interaction and friends you’ll find and the release of feel good hormones is far better than the sugar high from a block of chocolate and far healthier! Improved lung function and boosting your immune system are added benefits too, but most of our members participate because it’s simply a lot of fun and an all round enjoyable experience.
To help you get started men, if you’re a new male member and sign up for MCCHOIR and pay for Terms 3 and 4 by our KICKOFF on July 14th we can offer any new male members a special offer of two terms for the price of one. Your first rehearsal is FREE so just register your interest on-line here and come on the 14th for your first session and decide on the night if it’s for you and we’ll invoice you for the $99 – it’s that easy!
Founding Creative Director
Melbourne Contemporary Choir
Melbourne Contemporary Youth Choir
Today I stumbled upon the Grainger Museum in the grounds of Melbourne University in my lunch break. Established by Percy Aldridge Grainger, Australia's first renowned composer and arranger, and concert pianist of international standing. With in excess of 100,000 items forming this autobiographical museum, it is a unique institution in Australia.
Whilst I don't try to compare myself to this great man I believe another little know creative group - Melbourne Contemporary Choir shares something of his pioneering spirit.
Whilst there is no evidence that Grainger ever uttered or wrote the now axiomatic: 'art does not occur in a vacuum' I think that something of the creative process in music for which he is renown was reignited as I observed this unique collection and reflected on my own musical journey. My journey has culminated in the formation of Melbourne Contemporary Choir and our recent EP launch and Concert Spectacular "Time To Shine" at Planetshakers City church this past weekend.
The concert was constructed around the Theme "Time To Shine" the title track on the EP which was a collaborative effort between Jared Haschek (Melbourne based songwriter, musician and arranger) and Jason Simmonds (Creative Director, MCCHOIR). You can get your copy of these original tunes from iTunes. Many of the current choir members are new to the group this year and have achieved a remarkable show in such a short period of time. The joy on my choristers faces and expressions was infectious as the audience were captivated by the passion and enthusiasm each of the singers brought to the stage.
This diverse group of people somehow managed to bring together a captivating show which entertained young and old alike with popular songs from Adele, Sam Smith and Beyonce Knowles to name just a few. One attendee was quoted as saying that in a couple of the songs that she knew very well "Just Give Me A Reason" - P!NK and "Hello" - Adele Adkins that when the choir sang these songs she heard words which she had missed in the original version and she became quite emotional and prompted her to rethink aspects of her life. To me as a Creative Director that is one of the most powerful testimonies of connecting with an audience and moving them deeply that I have experienced. Those moments are rare and as artists we need to cherish them.
From powerful Ballads to soaring solo's and an energetic line up of some of Melbourne's finest musicians, many of the audience were not expecting such a musical smorgasbord to devour and enjoy. The concert theme was highlighted right from the outset as the choir moved throughout the darkened auditorium holding lanterns to light their path. Stopping to engage with people and acknowledging their smiles as they passed.
A pumping horn section were featured in much of the set list - a highlight for me was Sam Smith's "Writings on The Wall" with haunting Bond melodies and a beautiful solo from our youngest member "Emilia Dowell" But personally my most treasured memory was seeing my own mother - Lois Simmonds regain her singing confidence and tackling some amazing repertoire - well out of her usual comfort zone with passion and resolve.
Our choir mum 'Lois Simmonds'
Our awesome foursome horn section Dean Konkright, Phil Reichman, Bradley Todd and Ken Marsh in action
Our pocket rocket guest artist - Melody Crystal wowing the audience
- As part of the whole "Time To Shine" experience our music director Jared Haschek introduced me to our guest soloist and MC for the evening - Melody Crystal. Don't let her petite stature fool you - she is a pocket rocket of talent and shared some beautiful moments with the audience with her original songs and a couple of powerful songs with the choir. If you missed the show - I hope I've whet your appetite for our next event - they just keep getting bigger and better - although I'm not quite sure how we'll top this. The whole show had all the ingredients of a hit and it certainly hit the spot with the crowd of 400 guests who didn't want to leave - such was the buzz around the second major performance of MCCHOIR.
MCCHOIR is always open to new members and we invite you to Register for Term 3 intake HERE commencing on 14 July -secure your spot today. On the night we were very excited to announce the launch of MCYOUTH the new breed of choir starting next term too for youth 13-18. This group will be like no other group you have been in before with cutting edge sounds and ample performance opportunities - we're in for good times. Register for MCYOUTH HERE
At Melbourne Contemporary Choir we're passionate about creating original Australian works which appeal to todays audiences, that's why we have released our first EP of tunes entitled "TIME 2 SHINE".
This project is a collaboration between Melbourne Contemporary Choir Founder and Creative Director Jason Simmonds and Melbourne based musician, songwriter and arranger Jared Haschek.
The title track "Time To Shine" had it's radio debut last week on Plenty Valley FM 98.6 on the afternoon show with Denise Kutchmar and was a real hit with listeners. Everyone in the studio was grooving to this catchy tune which has a strong melody line and uplifting lyrics which captures the listeners imagination.
Some of Melbourne's finest musicians have lent their talent to create two amazing tracks including Glenn Cannon, Pat Tuariki, Jared Haschek and Matt Bryant. The brilliant horn section consisting of Dean Conkwright, Ken Marsh, Tom Kenneth and Cal Barry sound fantastic. We think contemporary choirs all over Melbourne and beyond will be singing these catch tunes and that's part of the reason we have included the backing tracks on the album so that other choral groups can make use of the music.
The charts including SATB arrangements, horn section and piano accompaniment will be released shortly, following the EP official launch on JUN 18. This will be a concert event not to be missed featuring some of the musicians off the recording, the amazingly talented MCCHOIR and musical director for the night Jared Haschek. The concert spectacular is at Planetshakers, Lower Plenty from 7.30PM and tickets are selling fast. You can still get great seats from Eventbrite.
You will not want to miss this Concert Spectacular with guest artist Melody Crystal, a Melbourne based singer songwriter. Get your tickets to hear MCCHOIR perform "Time To Shine" and "Raining" live along with songs from other popular artists like Adele, Sam Smith, P!NK, Beyonce and Katy Perry.
Melbourne Contemporary Choir
Founder and Creative Director
There is now a veritable swathe of research on how moods and emotions can be positively influenced by group singing – we actually catch positive emotions off others in our immediate circles. In other words, community-based singing is really good for you, physically, emotionally and spiritually – it’s part of a holistic approach to wellbeing.
In Australian culture, singing publicly is a foreign concept – we feel vulnerable and exposed when we put ourselves out of our comfort zone. But the only way to overcome that fear – and that’s what it is, fear – is to face it head on. Fortunately there are many community based singing groups that are springing up all over Melbourne. I recently heard about another group Melbourne Indie Voices who are doing a brilliant job of connecting a new generation with their musical heritage and seeing tremendous growth.
In my day job, I’m a research scientist, which involves a lot of public presentations to varied audiences. If you ask most people their number one fear – it would have to be public speaking. Ever been in a workshop or a room of strangers and been asked to introduce yourself and tell the crowd something about yourself? We’ve all been there, the heart starts racing, the cold sweats start and the words just can’t seem to form in your mouth. In performance we call this ‘stage fright’. But every actor, musician and singer have to deal with this at some point and overcome that adrenaline rush.
Personally I’ve found that stretching myself to perform publicly, whether that be leading a church congregation in singing, performing a solo at a concert or conducting Melbourne Contemporary Choir (MCCHOIR). Right from a young age I was trained in a youth choir to perform in front of crowds of strangers, so it doesn’t seem quite so daunting getting up in front of my colleagues to present a research finding as part of my job. I recently returned to study to do a Master of Teaching at Melbourne Uni and again I found that getting up in front of a group of students is another place I have to ‘perform’. I can’t tell you the difference it makes in public presentation to have this sort of experience behind you. It gets to the point where you can switch on the ‘performance’ button when you need it. Not that its contrived or disingenuous, conversely, having that ‘performance mentality’ means your audience are relaxed and have a level of trust in your confidence and authority. I often get tremendous feedback after a presentation and often people a quite surprised to hear me speak – I can thank my music and singing background for that confidence which comes quite unnaturally to me.
At MCCHOIR we are developing our singers to build confidence through performance. Some have even taken the brave step of preparing and performing a solo with the choir. Most however, are enjoying ‘safety in numbers’ and creating music together which is enjoyable not only for themselves but for their audiences. Right at the moment we are busy preparing songs by artists like Adele, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Sam Smith and Phil Collins – all amazing arrangements which ignite a real joy and expressiveness that only comes through a shared musical experience like group singing. At our last sold-out concert the show really cemented our relationships as a group. The fact that we faced this challenge together meant that no one felt intimidated and our audience responded accordingly. We had exploding confetti cannons and giant balloons bouncing around the crowd during one song, which became a powerful moment for us as a choir to know that we had genuinely entertained our audience - young and old alike.
MCCHOIR is pretty unique in the North of Melbourne in that we have a current repertoire of popular songs that most people will know. Radio tunes and classic rock anthems that everyone loves to sing along with. In our upcoming Concert Event and EP launch “TIME TO SHINE” we have a few surprises up our sleeve to wow our audience. This is the perfect opportunity to check out this amazing group of performers for yourself, who knows, one day you might even be performing with us on stage. At MCCHOIR we have an ‘open door’ philosophy, all our rehearsals are open for new prospective members to engage with the group and check it out. Your first rehearsal is free and obligation free – so it’s a fantastic opportunity to bring a friend along and experience the ‘group singing vibe’ together.
If you haven’t got your tickets to the #TIMETOSHINE concert you’ll want to get onto that pretty quickly as tickets are selling fast. With a live band backing us up and guest soloist Melody Crystal – a seasoned performer herself, you’ll not be disappointed. Just visit the Events & Tickets page on our website to secure your seats today.
Melbourne Contemporary Choir
Jason or (Jase) as he likes to be called is Founder & Creative Director of Melbourne Contemporary Choir (MCCHOIR) and is a passionate musician who wants to bring his love for music to a broader audience.
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