Dimensions in sound
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. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.