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
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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