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Community & Business

3 November, 2022

Moorambilla magic

From Gilgandra to the steps of the Opera House, eleven local children sung to the masses over the weekend, for the iconic building’s 50th anniversary.

By Emily Middleton

Country children from across NSW involved in Moorambilla Voices were invited to be part of the ‘From the Steps: Voices at Dusk’ performance on October 29, as well as a special performance with ‘Big Heart Sing’ on October 30.

Director and founder of Moorambilla Voices, Michelle Leonard OAM, said what the children achieved in 48 hours was incredible, performing to over 8000 people collectively, and singing their way around Sydney.

“It was just genuinely nuts. 3000 people in the audience on Saturday, and over 5000 on Sunday with a choir of 500 other voices alongside them,” said Ms Leonard.

“Coming out of covid, we never knew what was going to happen with Moorambilla. But having this opportunity with 44 students was just magnificent. They’ve accomplished so much over the weekend; I imagine they were all dead asleep on that bus home.”

Gilgandra made up a quarter of the voices for Moorambilla, something Ms Leonard had not seen in over a decade.

“I was trying to pick kids that would really benefit from the program, and that showed resilience. We don’t normally have that many kids from Gilgandra but they were just outstanding and they should be so incredibly proud of themselves.”

The ‘From the Steps: Voices at Dusk’ performance was held on Saturday night, with the Moorambilla Choir performing songs written especially for them by various contemporary Australian composers.

Another Gilgandra star, artist Melissa Kelly, was commissioned by Moorambilla back in 2020 to create ceramic trophies. These trophies were of a cat, fish, and a flamingo that go on an adventure all around NSW.

“We then had music written for us about those adventures, and those ceramics were drawn up and projected, to use for River Song 22, Moorambilla’s 17th annual gala concert,” said Ms Leonard.

“We then decided that the Opera House needs to hear and see that.” The choir had a 30 minute set, that consisted of singing in Wiradjuri and Gamilaraay language. “This was a first for the choir to which was absolutely beautiful,” said Ms Leonard.

Four students were unable to make to performances due to flooding, but the Opera House and Moorambilla made sure they still felt included.

“Everyone’s been so beautiful, and generous and supportive. It’s been really humbling and wonderful really,” said Ms Leonard.

The children loved the opportunity to sing on such a large stage, and being part of the Opera House’s history.

“They have never done anything like that before, their previous concern was in Dubbo!” said Alicia Harrison, mum of two performers, Claudia and Jemima.

“Performing was the highlight of the trip, but the children also got to have some other incredible experiences like walking across the Harbour Bridge and visiting the Art Gallery of NSW. They also visited the crypt in St Mary’s Cathedral and got to experience those acoustics.”

Ms Leonard is proud of what the students have achieved and is appreciative of everyone’s support. But while the weekend was a success, she would love to see the opportunity extended to other children.

“These are not children who have the opportunity to relish in a choir every week. We really value the opportunities that we can give them, and the kids feel so empowered and it’s such a positive experience, it just shines through.

“But we need the support of everyone we can get. We need people to know that rural NSW is phenomenal, the artistry and the capacity and phenomenal. We could only take 44, but I would love to take 144.

“And it’s not the lack of ideas, or lack of capacity, it’s money.”

This was the first performance over the 17 years of Moorambilla that the choir has performed at the Opera House.

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