Di­men­sions in sound

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - By KYLIE WIL­SON

SINGERS con­gre­gate reg­u­larly from across the North East to at­tend the re­hearsals of lo­cal choir Vo­cal Di­men­sion.

Hail­ing from all walks of life, mem­bers come to­gether in a com­mon love of singing and cre­at­ing vo­cal har­mony, and while the group sings songs from a range of gen­res, many mem­bers have a pas­sion for the beauty of sa­cred mu­sic.

Their rep­u­ta­tion is such that they were re­cently given the op­por­tu­nity to share their gifts in Gee­long, at the in­vi­ta­tion only Fes­ti­val of Sa­cred Mu­sic held in May.

“We were hon­oured to be one of only five choirs per­form­ing this year,” said Anne Bit­tner of Vo­cal Di­men­sion.

She said the per­for­mance, held af­ter sev­eral months of re­hearsal in Wan­garatta, was held in All Saints, an Angli­can church in New­town.

“The aug­mented choir per­formed to its usual ex­act­ing stan­dard and pro­duced a very cred­itable per­for­mance which was very well re­ceived,” Anne said.

“It was an ex­cit­ing ven­ture for choir mem­bers as it was our first pro­fes­sional en­gage­ment.”

Anne, a mem­ber of the group for around three years, said she has been ex­posed to sa­cred mu­sic all her life, from her parish church in Eng­land, at board­ing school, and in parishes in Vic­to­ria.

She has also sung in the Syd­ney Opera House on three oc­ca­sions as part of a choir of sev­eral hun­dred singing the works of El­gar, Bizet and Beethoven.

“Sa­cred mu­sic is a huge part of the out­put of great com­posers and it is so up­lift­ing to sing and make it come alive with other singers and mu­si­cians,” Anne said.

But she does not just lis­ten to sa­cred mu­sic, with her mu­sic col­lec­tion fea­tur­ing ev­ery­thing from clas­sic mu­si­cals to The Bea­tles and ABBA.

Many group mem­bers say that be­ing part of the choir adds rich­ness to their lives, as well as help­ing nur­ture a sense of com­mu­nity.

Among the choir’s long term mem­bers is Val McMonigle, who has fos­tered a love of mu­sic since her child­hood grow­ing up on a farm.

In­spired by her par­ents, who were both mu­si­cally in­clined, she re­calls giv­ing “concerts” for who­ever was around. “I’ve al­ways loved to sing,” she said. She grew up on the mu­sic of artists from Olivia New­ton-John and Nana Mousk­ouri to the Bea­tles and Elvis, but join­ing a choir ex­panded her mu­si­cal horizons.

Val has now been a mem­ber of Vo­cal Di­men­sion (which was orig­i­nally Wan­garatta Cho­ris­ters) for 31 years.

She said sa­cred mu­sic, such as what the group per­formed in Gee­long, held a spe­cial place in her heart.

“It’s the har­monies and mu­si­cal­ity of it,” Val said.

For fel­low mem­ber Guy Robert­son, who hadn’t sung pub­licly since high school but joined Vo­cal Di­men­sion a few years ago af­ter re­tir­ing to Wan­garatta, work­ing on singing a sa­cred melody is “fab­u­lous, har­mon­i­cally in­ter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing”.

Hav­ing heard Guy prac­tic­ing around the home for many hours, and be­ing present at many per­for­mances, his wife Robyn ad­mits that she has also be­come a fan of sa­cred and choir mu­sic and loves to lis­ten to the rich sound.

The group love to per­form with each other and said a high level of skill is not re­quired to join the choir, as many skills can be taught and shared be­tween mem­bers.

Vo­cal Di­men­sion wel­comes new choir mem­bers and en­quiries and their con­tact email is vo­cal. di­men­sion.choir@gmail.com.

The group is hop­ing to fur­ther ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity by putting to­gether a char­ity fundrais­ing con­cert in the near fu­ture.

More in­for­ma­tion is also avail­able at www.vo­caldimen­sion.org.au.

HEAV­ENLY VOICES: Mem­bers of Vo­cal Di­men­sion per­form­ing at the Fes­ti­val of Sa­cred Mu­sic in Gee­long at the Angli­can All Saints Church in New­town.

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