Cloud9 Women's Choir

Coming together to share the joy of singing

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“Thank you for the music, the songs we’re singing.”

And as ABBA might ask: What would life be for Cloud9 without our choir and our songs? So, a very BIG thank you to Kerry, our magical music director, for keeping us together and singing for an entire term without one face-to-face, or mask-to-mask, rehearsal! 

The ever-brilliant Kerry

Together on zoom we have learned and rehearsed our concert repertoire, each section enjoying our half hour of Kerry’s exclusive attention, after which we have moved on to a variety of other songs, just for fun. Much as we have enjoyed these rehearsals, each section felt a bit lonely without the rest of the choir so the term finished with a celebratory full choir zoom get-together combining songs and small group chats. Aren’t breakout rooms amazing? It was wonderful to see each other again!

Sopranos, mezzos and altos all together.

We resume rehearsals this week, and now there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, faint as yet, that we may meet again, in person, before the end of the year, and SING!

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Farewell Christine

Sadly we say goodbye to Christine, who has been our Music Director since 2018. Christine has shared with us her enthusiasm and her amazing depth of musical knowledge and vocal skills, and we are grateful to have learned so much from her. She has introduced us to all kinds of interesting music including the mysteries of heterophony and the magic of Michael McGlynn. 

We will remember our 2019 concert at the Church of All Nations as quite possibly the best concert we have ever performed.  

Christine has done us proud, and as she moves on in this time of change we wish her well and look forward to hearing news of her success in the future.

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Cloud9 is finally back together

Last Thursday Cloud9 came alive again. Undeterred by last minute changes to the COVID rules,  we masked up and went back for our first rehearsal in nearly a year. We had doubts about our voices after so long, but Christine took us carefully and gently through warm-ups, before we moved on to some of our favorite songs, and by the end of the evening we had regained our confidence.  It was so good to see everyone again, even if we could only see half of each face, and it was wonderful to be singing.  

Here we are in our COVID safe expanded area – Cloud9, the Masked Entertainers!

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Cloud9 comes together for the joy of singing!

That joy has been muted (literally) this year, as required  by lockdown restrictions and health advice, but our friendship bonds are strong, and we have all kept in touch throughout the year.  We had zooms, when we could even sing together, if muted, to recordings of our favourite songs, and blissfully, by the end of the year we were able to meet in person, in our section groups, outdoors, to enjoy each other’s company, and even sing. 

We are now looking forward to the New Year.  We may not be sure what it will bring, but we are fairly certain there will be much more joyful singing.


Our wonderful Altos – delighted in finally being able to meet in person!


Singing together – yet apart – in 2020


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COVID-19 and Cloud9: how are we going?

The Cloud9 Committee and Musical Director Christine Storey were proactive and back in early March decided to suspend choir rehearsals in light of the developing health crisis that turned out to be the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, we had to have a virtual farewell to our talented accompanist of many years Annabelle Clucas. Some thirty-two members joined a Zoom call with digitally-acquired gifts, heartfelt speeches, farewell toasts and a poem (or as Janice called it, a bit of doggerel). The very talented Desley produced both a digital and hard copy photo memorabilia card.

Since then we have met up via Zoom to keep connected, but we soon learned that actual singing cannot be easily done over zoom due to the internet delay. We have tried a few options for learning repertoire and singing at home with microphones muted, or breaking into smaller groups and coming together later and singing karaoke style accompanied by our own recordings from previous concerts. This is not for everyone especially those who are zoomed out from being online all day at work.

We have been learning about droplets and aerosols and how singers are very efficient at projecting these to great distances! The Australian National Choral Association have made a statement. 

Choral singing provides wonderful human connection and difficult to do in isolation. We are all hanging out to get together again and make some music but with many of our members in the higher risk group we are cautious and will be following the government health guidelines. So at present 20 of us could meet outside and stand apart in rows of alternating spaces but not perhaps in the dead of winter!

As we rehearse in a Uniting Church property we have to wait for the all clear from them, as well as addressing extra physical distancing, changing our social greetings, ventilation of the venue, lots of extra hand hygiene measures, standing much further apart and in a different formation, changing our vocal warm ups  and considering face shields to catch the droplets. There is no scientific evidence yet to say whether this would be effective or not.

I hope someone is doing a trial?

Anne Woodward June 2020

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A poem to farewell Annebelle

Annabelle, Annabelle our accompanist sans par

Is leaving us now for pastures afar

She’s accompanied our choirs for ages and ages

With infinite patience and spirit courageous.


Her manner is confident and always quite calm

She knows what she’s doing, there’s never alarm

It’s all quite surprising since given the task

Of accompanying three directors; it’s been a big ask.


The first was with Leigh and the fledgling Elation

That lasted some years til Annie “took a vacation”.

When Elation had folded, there seemed little choice

But to start a new choir and find a fresh voice.


The new choir, Cloud 9, had no hesitation

In seeking out Annabelle to fulfil its vocation

Of having the very best in accompanist skill

There was really no question; she fitted the bill


Next there was Gloria and now Christine M.

She’s supported them all and been such a gem

Whether Faure or Rutter or songs in odd keys

She tackles it all with consummate ease.


As a solo artiste she stands out from the crowd

Her performance at concerts has made us all proud

Who can forget when she got the hall poppin’

With Maple Leaf Rag by the famous Scott Joplin.


So its farewell dear Annabelle after all of these years

Though sad that you’re leaving we’ll toast you with cheers

To your new life in Buderim and all that it imparts

But remember your spirit will stay warm in our hearts.


By former Cloud9 Chair, Janice Stanford

Janice (second from right) and Annabelle (far right).

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A message to farewell Annabelle

Cloud9 was doubly sad this term: firstly to have to bid farewell to our beloved accompanist Annabelle and secondly, to have to say goodbye to Annabelle online as a result of physical distancing requirements.

Here’s a message to Annabelle from our Cloud9 Chair, Anne Woodard:

On behalf of Cloud9 it is my pleasure to write a few words to farewell Annabelle Clucas, our esteemed, dedicated and most talented accompanist. Sometimes we live our lives expecting that things will be the same for ever, and they of course are not, which gives rise to reflecting how lucky are we!

Annabelle, we have had your presence at our concerts and rehearsals week-in and week-out for well over a decade, first with Elation and then with Cloud9, working closely with three very different Musical Directors. If it wasn’t for the distancing required due to the COVID-19 virus we would be gathering in person, celebrating in style and over catering as usual with a delicious supper. We would be surrounding you with positive vibes for the next step in your life away from Cloud9 and there would be tears on both sides I am sure.

You have been a joy to work with over the years and we have valued your professionalism, fabulous musicianship, seamless ability take part in ensemble often with very little rehearsal and not forgetting your talent, dedication to us, patience, and marvellous ability to keep time and “keep your head when all around are losing theirs” to quote Kipling. 

You will be sorely missed! We have loved having you as part of the generous and warm spirit that is our choir.

I think you should be given Honourable Guest Status at our future Concerts and until we meet again, Thank you from all of us.

Stay well and enjoy the work life balance that this next stage of life will bring.

With an open heart and warmest wishes, Anne Woodward


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Cloud9 2020 Update

This year started out very positively on Saturday February 1st with a big rehearsal prior to term starting that we dubbed The Big Note Bash.  We had two fantastic rehearsals with a very delicious lunch and a good catchup break in the middle.

The idea was to set us up for a year of singing musical repertoire for Women, by Women. We had a wonderful turn-out including new members who were not put off by the intensity of the day as the music was new for all of us.

Our Musical Director Christine Storey warmed us up along with our regular accompanist Annabelle Clucas.  We then had the privilege of two talented guest musicians, Dean Sky-Lucas and Sam Hartley, join us. We are fortunate in our rehearsal space that we could divide into three groups, each with piano or keyboard to learn the individual parts before coming together to sing as a choir, albeit a very scratch performance.

Dean entertained us with tongue twisters in English and French which helped us with the French pronunciation of text of Les Sirenes by Lili Boulanger and I not sure that we sounded at all like sirens as we attempted the chromatic six part sections!! But much laughter was had and that is good for the diaphragm too.

The first term started with a range of music from Anne Boleyn to Dolly Parton as we began to settle into the repertoire and then cast aside things that just didn’t work for us!


End of Term One

Just as we were getting ready to finalise our venue for the June 2020 performance, and the jitters of learning a whole concert of new music was finally settling down, we encountered the COVID-19 pandemic.  This was a spanner in the works……… as we had to acknowledge early on that singing is a germy business. We made a decision to cease rehearsals even before we were urged to do so by the Health Department.

Our farewell to Cloud9 accompanist Annabelle Clucas  has had to be postponed due to social distancing guidelines!! She announced her resignation from the choir effective at  the end of term one and we are very sad.  She is returning to her roots in Qld and to a different work life/ balance perhaps?

 We have been so lucky to have had the company of this talented woman every Thursday for the past 20 years. She had been integral to the glue that binds Cloud9 together and we thank her sincerely for her skill, patience and musical ability and for the hours of beautiful music making we have enjoyed – or was that endured – together? Annabelle will be deeply missed and details of the final farewell function are yet to be decided.

Term two

When we will resume is at the moment unknown, so our challenge is to keep connected and engaged vocally with Dropbox files, Youtube videos and emails. We are looking at online platforms for learning and sharing choral music and will reorganise our program for concerts this year when the situation becomes clearer.  

Stay well everyone and be kind to each other.

Remember to quarantine Thursday night 7.30 to 9.30 for singing!


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Our Winter Concert – the best ever!!

Wow! Singing at Church of All Nations for our Winter concert on June 22nd was an energising and uplifting experience.  I overheard one chorister say “It was a triumph!” And the evening certainly had a wonderful sense of community, musical excellence, great leadership, sublime soloists and a full house.  The standing ovation was a wonderful affirmation of all the time and energy that goes into creating a musical experience like that.

Warmest thanks go to Christine M Storey our Musical Director who very ably led Cloud9 Choir, as well as our guests: Dean Sky-Lucas on organ, The Crossing Machine String Quartet with Asher Reichman, Soprano Suzanne Shakespeare, and Mezzo Neda Bizarri.

Annabelle Clucas, our regular accompanist, joined us for the second half of the program and was brilliant as always. Particularly memorable was the ensemble with the violins for Elgar’s Fly Singing Bird and The Snow. Have a look at our program for details of the evening.

Lastly, thank you to our wonderful audience: your role completes the performance circle.

Cloud9’s next concert will be on December 7th 2019 
so save the date. We’ll be back at North Balwyn Uniting Church and look forward to seeing you there and catching up over supper.