Cloud 9 sang a farewell to our Patron, Leigh Wigglesworth, OAM at her funeral service held at North Balwyn Uniting Church on 5 January.
Leigh was the driving and indefatigable force behind Elation Women’s Choir for well over 11 years until she retired as music director. Leigh said she had always wanted to conduct a choir of women’s voices so in 2000, rehearsals started in the Uniting Church Hall in Box Hill with a core of some 15-20 singers. All were welcome and there was no audition. In Leigh’s inimitable way, we were right into it with quite complex part singing.
Her generosity with the choir was manifest in many ways – voluntarily tutoring non-music reading choir members through music theory exams, holding additional informal rehearsals around her dining room table, and building up and maintaining a very comprehensive music library.
Not only was our repertoire varied, Leigh was always eager to try new things; she brought in prominent guest conductors; we performed at eisteddfods and festivals; tried new performance venues; and performed with professional singers and musicians. Elation sang not only in local churches but also at St Paul’s and St Patrick’s cathedrals in the city, BMW Edge, the National Gallery of Victoria, Federation Square and the Melba and Robert Blackwood Halls. The culmination was a performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria in the Melbourne Recital Centre Salon.
The choir even learnt throat singing with Dean Frenkel (that rehearsal was quite a sight to see and hear) and then performed Sarah Hopkins haunting Past Life Melodies in concert featuring our new found skill!
As a choir leader Leigh was uncompromising, which was both a strength and a vulnerability. In her dedication to transforming Elation from a simple community choir to making it the best choir it could possibly be she drew on all her resources, her energy, her enthusiasm, her humour, her musicianship and her contacts in the music world. Uncompromising also in that she found it difficult to accept help in matters relating to the choir.
Leigh was, however, supported by Elation’s “number 1 ticket holder”, her husband Eric until his death in 2009. In saying farewell to Leigh, Cloud 9 was honoured to perform two works, Let it Go, and the Blessing, the latter a work that Leigh introduced and which became a signature work for Elation and for Cloud 9.
Cloud 9 emerged as a new independent choir in 2012 with former members of Elation forming its core. Leigh’s legacy is embodied in Cloud 9’s commitment to sharing the joy of singing and the development of musical excellence.
Our sympathies go to Leigh’s children and their families.
Janice (Elation and Cloud 9 member since 2000)
Leigh conducts Elation for carols in the NGV