The first time I sang in the church choir; two hundred people changed their religion. ~ Fred Allen
Sometime around mid~night last night Star & I lurched through our own door, exhausted but too wired to sleep.
Alison prides herself on training singers who can perform to a high standard on extremely short notice ~ trust me, the notice was short. Queensland Library is hosting the Queensland Cultural Centre’s Torres Strait Islands : A Celebration ~ & the choir needed some extra voices. This is quite simply an amazing thing on so many levels. Firstly, & most obviously to me, everything is in another language & the pronounciation is important! The elders came along to check we got it right. ☺ Secondly, & less obviously because things don't work this way in our culture, the songs have a deep spiritual dimension & need to be treated with great respect. Thirdly, & least obviously of all to me, the choir direction works in a very fluid way, far more so than would happen in the West.
I had gone armed with a good book & was hopeful of being allowed to tuck away in a quiet corner out of the way somewhere where I could listen & watch unobtrusively. Alison is very good to me, understanding the logistics of island living make a difference to us & I can't just toddle home like all the other parents do. So I tagged along at the tail of the extras, Alison's singers from a variety of choirs, ostensibly responsible for Alison's junior singers ~ who, quite frankly, are all much clueier than I am! Mmm. To find, shock, horror, gasp, a sheaf of music shoved in my hand & that I was squished in amongst all the singers.
OK, I'm happy to show willing, you know ~ & I had been asked if I would like to sing. I normally turn this sort of thing down, firstly because much as I love my music, I can't sing; not really. Secondly , I don't see why either the choir or the long suffering public should be subjected to the strange sounds I produce. I can, however, open & close my mouth convincingly like a goldfish. I slid well to the back & tucked in beside a strong singer in the soprano section, figuring, incorrectly as it turned out, the sopranos would sing the melody. Nope, that part went to the altos, so I drifted across & tucked in behind a horrified Star, who is only willing to sing with me if we are not in a public venue!
I had a strong singer on my left & a line of lovely, helpful & really BIG voices on my right. The vibration thrummed through the floor [concret!] & up my spine. Unbelievable! I was totally charmed. The sound revebrated in the small rehearsal space & echoded in the dim recesses of my brain. Magnificant sound!
Seriously people, if anyone is in Brissie about 5pm on Saturday & can catch this it will be totally worth it. The music is wonderful! Ruth Ghee is conducting some of her own work ~ so, so beautiful~ & Luke Captain is also working with this choir, including the traditional Monki ene Totol. Star thinks Monki is super cool! This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about a little known aspect of Queensland culture & tradition & I do feel so privileged to be able to take part in it. After all, it is always waay more fun to participate than to simply observe! Thank you, Alison. Thank you, Torres Straits. Thank you, Lord.