Regional Arts Development Central West NSW

Arts Restart Micro Grants stories: Allegri Singers’ Music for a While

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May 22 & 23. The Bathurst-based community choir is rehearsing a new show for May, entitled “Music for a While”. Proudly supported by the NSW Government’s Arts Restart funding and Arts OutWest.

From Cameron Love, Allegri Singers publicity

In November, 2019, the Allegri Singers presented what for many people was a once in a lifetime musical performance. To packed houses, in two venues, for many of the performers and audience members, Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man was the most powerful, emotional music ever experienced.

The essence of the occasion was captured in Bathurst City Life’s excellent front-page picture of Musical Director, William Moxey, at the close of the performance in Bathurst’s All Saints’ Cathedral.

The question in everyone’s mind at Allegri Singers was, “Whatever next?”  It was indeed, a hard act to follow. Preparations began for a light concert in May 2020 – rehearsals commenced, venue was booked, publicity was about to be launched…and…of course, COVID-19 happened, and all plans were cancelled.

The following months were, to put it mildly – interesting. In an endeavour to maintain an esprit de corps, an invitation was issued to all choir members to participate in ‘Zoom’ rehearsals. While this was too daunting a prospect for some, a modest group convened, and began Zooming. Well, imagine a choir whose musical director can see everyone, but hear nothing, choristers who can hear the YouTube musical piece but not each other. The technical difficulties of synchronisation were too hard and too expensive to contemplate. However, the group persevered, and learnt some wonderful and challenging pieces of music. They could also claim, at the end of the exercise, they had sung with some of the finest choirs and orchestras in the world…via YouTube!

As COVID restrictions relaxed somewhat, the choir was able to resume live rehearsals, first, thanks to the generosity of the Uniting Church, in the church’s car park, to the occasional accompaniment of a hammer drill in the adjoining office block.  As the weather cooled off, they accepted the offer of an indoor space at the Bathurst Showground, and now rehearse in All Saints’ Cathedral’s Walshaw Hall.

So, back to the question, “What next?” With further easing of restrictions, it is now possible for choirs to rehearse and present music to audiences, provided current COVID advice is followed. Allegri Singers are preparing a program for performance in St. Raphael’s Church in Cowra, on Saturday, 22 May and in All Saints’ Cathedral, Bathurst, on Sunday, 23 May.

While members of the choir are relieved and happy to be able to sing together again, they are also very mindful of our good fortune, and of the trauma prevailing throughout the world, where many have friends and relations experiencing pain and difficulty.

It is hoped this concert will bring some moments of reflection and joy to audiences. Under the title Music for a While, it comprises both sacred and secular works, which capture the beauty of the earth, and the faith which helps many on their journey through hardship, to renewal and peace. If this all sounds a bit heavy, there are some lighter pieces, and a bit of comic relief!

Allegri Singers will also be participating in the Festival of Bells, in Bathurst, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 May.  In August, all being well, they will take part in the Blackheath Choir Festival.

The major concerts of the year will be performances of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in November. Dates and venues will be finalised soon.

So, all being well, it’s going to be a busy year for Allegri Singers.  But if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is… ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B!   Zooming again?? Let’s hope not!

Tickets for the May concerts are available, $30 Adult $25 Concession Child/Student free, from trybooking.com or cash only at BooksPlus (Bathurst concert only) or at the door.

IMAGE: Conductor William Moxey at the end of The Armed Man. Photo: Alan Saidler/ Arts OutWest media associate.