Someone famously said: ‘Well, it can’t be too hard to run a choir, can it? After all, Leigh has been doing it by herself for well over a decade.’ The Leigh being referred to was Leigh Wigglesworth OAM, the founder of Balwyn-based Women’s Choir Elation.
The half-dozen Elation choir members were discussing Leigh’s news that she was closing Elation while everyone was keen to ‘keep on singing’. We realised then that none of us wished to sing in another choir: we already had a membership, an accompanist, and a rehearsal hall, so all we needed was a music director. Oh, and music. What about music?
When Leigh heard what we were doing, she gifted us her entire music library and became our Patron until her death in January 2017. This extraordinary gift allowed our choir to access hundreds of works.
The new committee held its first meeting on 1st May 2012. And of course, a name had to be decided and after much brainstorming, the name Cloud9 was agreed upon. The name was chosen because it feels like being “on cloud 9” when we sing.
One week later, we were interviewing our new Music Director, Tianyi Lu, who was training to be an orchestral conductor at the University of Melbourne. Emily Chow our accompanist was also at the University of Melbourne studying piano performance and had spread the word. The youthful Tianyi gave us our first twelve months before she jetted off to Europe for further orchestral conducting studies.
Before leaving however, she also found us our second Music Director, Gloria Gamboz, who for the next five years built on Tianyi’s start to Cloud9 Women’s Choir.
During Gloria’s time, the Choir welcomed back Annabelle Clucas as accompanist. Annabelle had spent many years supporting Elation and was well known by many of the Cloud9 members who were delighted to see her return.
We were sad to say goodbye to Gloria when she moved overseas. After a search for a new director, Christine Storey became our third choir director in August 2018. Christine led Cloud9 from August 2018 to early 2021 and further developed our understanding of how the singing voice works.
Christine introduced some more unusual songs for the choir, including songs in a number of other languages, and some songs with choreography.
In 2021, we welcomed Kerry Gerraty as our fourth Director. Annabelle had relocated interstate, and we were very fortunate to secure Sam Hartley as accompanist to replace Annabelle in 2021.
Kerry continues to build the choir’s ability to sing as ‘one’ and brings much, much fun and laughter and learning to each rehearsal. Sam can sight-read music almost to perfection and knows exactly what we need from the piano to support our learning and singing.
Our Cloud9 10th Anniversary Concert in September 2022 was a chance to revisit some of our much-loved music from the previous decade. Over half of the original members who joined in 2012 are still in the choir, which is a testament to the joy that singing together brings us.
A choir cannot function without much support from its members, who share their time and effort in many ways. This includes being on the choir committee, helping at rehearsals, supporting the back-end work that makes concerts run smoothly, and undertaking many other tasks.
Since its inception, Cloud9 has comprised a group of women who support each other and share a love of singing. The past 10 years have been a great journey and with the effort of many, it turns out that ‘it’s not too hard to run a choir’!