The Barwon Heads Chorale was the creation and vision of well known local resident and music lover Jo Larson, who spent much of 2008 walking up to complete strangers in Barwon Heads and asking them if they enjoyed singing and wanted to join a choir. She also bulldozed Chorale Director Natale Lewington and Accompanist Hazel Mitchell into joining… Let’s just say “no” was never going to be the correct answer! All jokes aside, what started as a small, shy group of 25 people singing at the annual Christmas carols in December 2008, has now grown to over 75 people who flawlessly execute music such as Handel’s Messiah, Andrews Sisters numbers, hits of Broadway and popular music from all eras.
Singing in 3 or 4 part harmony, the Chorale goes from strength to strength each year, and always welcomes new members. The ability to read music while helpful is not necessary, as rehearsals are tailored to go over the music and words until everyone is comfortable.
The enjoyment of singing in harmony with others has demonstrated therapeutic effects, and additionally the social aspect of each week’s rehearsal sometimes leaves your sides aching from laughter! Much fun is had, along with learning terrific music.
The Chorale draws members from all over the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast and the greater Geelong area, with some members travelling from Melbourne and Ballarat to attend rehearsals. There are no audition requirements, the only thing you need to bring along with you is your voice and a healthy sense of humour!
Members pay an annual membership fee of $25 to the Barwon Heads Fine Music Society ($40 for a couple/family) which gives you discounted rates at all BHFMS concerts – the monthly second Sunday afternoon concert and an annual larger event. Members also pay $5 at each rehearsal, which goes towards costs including purchase of music, rehearsal space hire, advertising for concerts and notably two annual social events: the midwinter dinner and end of year break up – to which partners and family are invited.
With the retirement of Hazel at the end of 2015 (who will be sorely missed!), choir member Sara Brownell took up the challenge of working as accompanist for the Chorale. As a busy local GP and mother of a young family, we are very grateful for her expertise; her generosity given the amount of time dedicated to learning and rehearsing so much music; and most of all for her sense of humour! Both Natale and Sara donate their time to the Chorale.
Rehearsals run from 7.30-9.00 pm every Tuesday evening in All Saints Church on Hitchcock Avenue Barwon Heads. All concerts run by the Chorale are fund-raisers for charity, with previous concert funds going towards the CFA, Red Cross Flood Relief, Legacy, the Salvos and the Queenscliff Cottage by the Sea. Concerts generally include a guest performer, including at previous concerts the Salvation Army brass sextet, tap dancer Claire Robinson and local students singer Emmilly Leyton and trumpeter Will Crowther. Natale, a former opera singer and serious Bing Crosby fan, generally provides a number as well…
If you would like some more information on the Barwon Heads Chorale, please call Jo on 5254 2670. Otherwise, feel free to come to a rehearsal one Tuesday night if you fancy a sing and a laugh – everyone is welcome, the more the merrier!