Cloud9 Women's Choir

Coming together to share the joy of singing

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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.


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New venue for our next concert

Cloud9’s next concert at 5.30 pm on June 22nd 2019 will be at Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton, 3053.

Church of All Nations. Image credit: Richard Dobbie, Photoeventz


We will be performing Vivaldi’s Gloria for female voices with The Crossing Machine and the wonderful 130-year-old, very fine Fincham Organ played by Dean Sky-Lucas. The other half of the concert will include songs by Edward Elgar, Michael Mcglynn, David Childs, Kim Andre Arnesen and Andrea Ramsey’s Lineage (hopefully sung a cappella). There is even a place for supper at this acoustically splendid church.

If you are lucky you might score on-street parking out the front; otherwise, there are quite a few parking options within a short walk.  You could download a handy parking app called Parkopaedia which details where to park for free and the cost of the local car parks too. There is ample public transport up Lygon St and car pooling will help reduce costs and our carbon footprint.

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The Joy and Fear of Singing

Have you noticed how popular choirs are becoming in this world of digital communication? Apparently Pub Choir is the next big thing for Gen Y/ Millennials and I think this demonstrates how urgently we still need to connect on a human level.  It is informal, fun, and no one judges you or tells you to stop!

It seems that every other person has a story to tell about how they were asked not to sing when they first started in a choir in their formative years and so they stopped.  That’s a shame because there is something very primal about standing next to another person and singing in unison: it unites us. Everyone can do it; we sing to connect, to celebrate, to grieve, as part of ritual or ceremony, it stirs the emotions with variability of content and style.

I was very struck by the Fijians singing in harmony in their huddle at the Rugby League World Cup 2017, but not so much by Aussie rules ( sorry Collingwood) although I am sure it was primal.

When we sing in harmony, we resonate with each other and  it has a profound effect on our physiology. Singing together affects our hormones and increases the release of endorphins and oxytocin, the feel-good hormones, and we tend to synchronise our breathing and heart rates. This is both energising and relaxing at the same time. For me this tends to come after we have worked on a piece for a while so I am immersed in the music and not worrying about the notes or the timing or holding the music. I guess that is why our two signature songs – Let it Go and Blessing have so much connection for most of the choir.

Choristers who meet regularly to sing know how good it is for body, mind and soul. I sing with the Cloud 9 Women’s Choir because I love to sing, enjoy the company of a diverse range of women and benefit from the vocal and choral skills training provided weekly by our Musical Director Christine Storey and our accompanist Annabelle Clucas.

I look forward to the benefits at rehearsal every Thursday night. And the sense of accomplishment after we perform in concert is very special, and we share this by having supper, and the chance to talk and catch up with our audience.

Anne Woodward

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Welcome to Cloud 9 2019


Our first rehearsal on Jan 31st was a taster of things to come: we started work on the Vivaldi Gloria for female voices, as well as some Elgar songs both of which we plan to do with string accompaniment at the end of Term 2. The Mid-year Concert date TBC so keep checking back here for more details as they arise.

Christine Storey our Musical Director introduced us to the wonderful sound of Heterophony …. a form of singing where each singer sings in isolation but with acute awareness of the ensemble effect…. well in theory…. somehow we did end up singing in unison…. hilarious.

Check out  Anuna Irish Choir



Term1 – Thursdays Jan 31stto April 4th

Term 2 – NO Choir ANZAC day 25thApril Thursdays May 2nd  to June 27th

Term 3 – Thursdays July 18thto September 19th

Term 4 – Thursdays Oct 10thto December 12th

End-of-year Concert Dec 7th

Choir break up party plus AGM, and a sing December 12th 

Summer break until late January/early Feb 2020 with big plans….shhhhhh can’t tell you yet.

New Members

If you have always wanted to sing in a choir, why not come along we are a friendly bunch and supportive of each other. Just contact us via this website (How to Join), so we know to look out for you – perhaps come and give it a go for a couple of weeks.

We would love singers to attend every week but acknowledge that is not always possible. However a bigger pool of singers allows people to take time away without affecting the balance too much. There are section leaders and extra rehearsals plus other help learning the music.

Our repertoire is wide and varied and there is usually something for everyone over time. We have social occasions as well and laugh a lot!


AW Chair Cloud9

On February 14th we were treated to a wonderful rehearsal with Dean Sky-Lucas.