The rides are spinning, there's a queue for fairy floss, and the scones and lemonade are homemade and scrummy - it's school fair time! Melbourne Contemporary Choir's latest gig was at the "Great Lee St Fete", the major fundraising event at North Carlton Primary School.
Throughout the day, different music and dance groups took to the stage - opera, spanish dance, a rock duo and more - culminating in a 30 minute performance by MCCHOIR.
With the temperature well into the 30s, the dress code was a little more relaxed than usual, though sticking with our 'black with bling' theme. Having a colour scheme and some basic basic guidelines works well for us, as opposed to a strict dress code or uniform - choir members choose clothing that suits our varying body shapes AND expresses our individual personalities. If you'd like some style advice, we have some fashionistas in the group, though I confess to not being one of them!
Before hitting the stage, it's important to warm up - that's something Jase has drilled into us since my first rehearsal, and this gig was no exception. I wonder what people thought, strolling through the fete, when they came across a strange group of people, making bizarre humming sounds while fighting for a spot in the shade (I did mention it was hot?). I've sung in many settings and groups, of varying levels of professionalism, and it's taken me much longer than it should have, to realise the value of warming up. My range is broader, the high notes come much easier, I think the tone of my voice is that bit richer, and my voice lasts much longer - if I warm up first.
So, we're ready to hit the stage. We line up as the MC does the introductions.
First up is 'Roar'. Three teeny tiny girls, sitting on the floor in front of stage, are immediately with us, singing along, dancing. The more grown up girls - and guys - are soon singing along too. Katy Perry has made this one a hit.
Next up is Halo, a favourite of mine, both in the Beyonce original and the MCCHOIR arrangement. When we first rehearsed the chorus, I confess I wondered if we'd ever get it right; each part seems to do it's own thing, with little help for or from the other parts. Yet with much practice, in rehearsal and singing along at home, it's now automatic: I sing, wait for altos, sing, wait for altos, wait an extra couple of beats for altos & men, high note, etc. I'm lucky enough to get the second verse solo, and it's awesome to sing with complex parts confidently soaring behind and around me.
This event marked the public debut of the Melbourne Contemporary Youth Choir. Each of our younger colleagues came along with a full cheer squad, as did a few of the adult choir members - I love the support that we get from family and friends! - Jase welcomes the youth choir to the stage as the adult choir steps back.
Melody and the kids have chosen to sing Hymn for the Weekend - yes, the team have their say about what type of music they'd like to sing. I love the sweetness of the soloist's tone as she sings 'shoot across the sky'. Well done, youth choir, on your debut - we look forward to sharing the stage with you again in September.
Daniel takes the soloist's mic as the adult choir steps forward again. Just Give Me A Reason is about love gone wrong, or at least, from the perspective of one person in the relationship. The other person? 'I'm sorry, I don't understand where all of this is coming from. I thought that we were fine!' P!NK made this song famous... and it's another arrangement that suits MCCHOIR well.
Final song for the gig. Let's do something upbeat, maybe an original tune? It's got to be Time to Shine! Words by Jason Simmonds, music by Jared Haschek, this was the first song written for and recorded by MCCHOIR, available on iTunes to buy now. This is a song that always gets my toes tapping, and it's good to finish on a positive note.
As we head off stage, we congratulate today's debut performers - Priyani with the adult choir, and all of our youth choir members, of course.
We collect our belongings, swig water, take a few more selfies, and head our separate ways - some for the fairy floss, others for the air conditioned comfort of home. Another gig done and dusted.
Why a school fete, you ask? One of MCCHOIR's core values is COMMUNITY - we want to give back to the community, and gigs like this give us that opportunity. Teachers, parents and students often go the extra mile, fundraising-wise, to ensure a full education program is on offer for all students.
Supporting the Lee St fete with our music also provides performance practice, with a little less pressure than a full concert would present. So we receive when we give - life's kind of like that, I've noticed.
Thanks for having us, North Carlton Primary. We hope you hit your fundraising goals. We know you had fun (we did too!). And the lemon butter was delicious.
(Guest Blogger and MCCHOIR Soprano)
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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