Cloud9 Women's Choir

Coming together to share the joy of singing

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Farewell Gloria!

Our last rehearsal of Term 2 was a fond farewell to our beloved Music Director Gloria. We farewelled her in style: she arrived to Van Morrison’s Gloria and a choir-made avenue of honour to walk under. We followed this with a Scottish-themed evening of songs, food, quizzes and gifts.

There will be a keenly-felt gap in our ranks, now that Gloria has departed for Scotland. We are sad – there is no denying that. But without change life would be dull and no one wants that!

We meet every Thursday to rehearse, but really it is an exchange of musical energy, a positive filling up of the spiritual battery, of mutual enjoyment and challenge to do better: to reach a goal scored by the whole team. And when we get it right, there is a physical vibration or resonance that holds a piece of music magically for a few moments and then is gone.  It is ethereal – it can’t really be recorded as we feel it, but like a drug we want to experience that again and so we come back every week.

Gloria, we have loved your calm guidance over the past 5 years, your patience and your good humour as Cloud9 has been gently steered and sometimes cattle prodded to new heights. Thank you, you will be greatly missed and we wish you all the very best for your time in Scotland.

If you would like to join our choir and share the good vibrations you are most welcome. First rehearsal for Term 3 is on 19thJuly.

Farewell Gloria! Cloud9 will miss you.


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What a wonderful Winter concert!

Cloud9’s Winter Concert – Let Us All Unite was enthusiastically received by a wonderful audience on Saturday 23rd June.  Thank you to all of our supporters.

The celebration of Australian composers in the program was well received, particularly because our fabulous announcers took the opportunity to explain the story of each song. 

The audience loved soaring with the albatross The Wanderer over southern shores of Antarctica, the choir’s opening piece. And we all felt the joy of Morning Tide.

A Place by the River by Eddie Perfect, arranged by Kate Sadler, features the Yarra River as the star of the song. We follow her story from watching the rise of the Indigenous Kulin nations to Melbourne today. Perfect muses that if she could, the Yarra would probably look surprised at the city that lines her banks today.

A gasp arose in the room at the close of the emotional Malala, a song written by Paul Jarman about and for the world’s youngest Nobel Peace prize-winner Malala Yousafzai. The choir’s driving rhythms were backed by the pulsing of the tabla played by Jay Dabgar. 

Jay then partnered with Hari Sivanesan, a Tamil singer and Veena musician, to introduce us to classical Indian music. A few choir members were heard to mutter: “Wow! Let’s head to India!”

There were other old favourites we adored performing again, including You are the New Day, In Flanders Fields, Sound the Trumpet and Jerusalem.

Cloud9 finishes every concert by spreading around the room and singing Let It Go and The Irish Blessing. Let It Go was taught to us by Ben Leske who died in March at only 38 years of age. With every chorister’s eye riveted on Gloria, a number owned up to rather wet eyes.

The concert closed with an emotional farewell to the choir’s Musical Director, Gloria Gamboz. She has brought Cloud9 to new heights of performance and love of music during her five years as Musical Director. Gloria leaves for a new life in Scotland this week and we’ll miss her terribly.

Now the hunt is on for Gloria’s replacement. Watch this space!

Thank you to Jerze Shapter-Lau for the photos.


Let it Go at St. Vincent’s

On December 19th some Cloud9 choristers lent their voices to bring “Let It Go!” to patients and staff at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. We were part of a pop-up choir of some 50 choral voices and some staff from St Vincent’s and pulled together by Ben Leske, himself a survivor of brain cancer thanks to St V’s.

What made our afternoon even more special was the presence of both Michael Leunig whose poem and artwork in turn inspired Suzann Frisk to put it to music.

Many of you will know that Cloud9 closes its concerts with “Let It Go!” which we’ve done since Ben Leske taught us the song some four years ago.

The poem and music gave Ben a way of coping with all that faced him. It has a similar effect on many others when they hear it.

“Let it go, let it out, let it all unravel. 
Let it free and it can be 
A path on which to travel”.

Michael Leunig (3rd from left), Suzann Frisk (second from right) and Ben Leske, (the tall one) with Cloud9 singers Marie, Janice, Dale and Denise.

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Cloud9 end-of-year celebrations

Last week Cloud9 gathered for our AGM and end-of-year celebration. We love getting together to sing a few of our favourites, thank our committee, welcome new committee members and have a chat.

Thank you to our 2017 Cloud9 committee (minus Judy our amazing Treasurer)

We also welcome the opportunity to share the feedback we’ve received on our performance and thank our beloved Music Director Gloria and Accompanist Annabelle for their skill, patience and guidance throughout the year.

Annabelle and Gloria, our much-loved Accompanist and Music Director

A highlight always at our AGM is the presentation of our annual Wiggs Award, in recognition of choir members who have made a significant contribution to the life and wellbeing of the choir. Jen Martin is our so-deserving recipient whose expertise in media communication enhances our choir profile. From writing blogs to managing our website and Facebook page, she also creates and interprets our choir surveys to direct our future. Jen is the first contact new members have when they wish to join our choir and it’s her smiling face who welcomes them.

Jen received the Wigg’s Award from our Cloud9 Chair Janice


Time to celebrate another wonderful Cloud9 year

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Christmas Collection Concert 2017

Under warnings of torrential rain and storms, Cloud9 gathered on December 2nd for our Christmas Concert. While heavy, the rain didn’t deter us, or our large and enthusiastic audience. We all stayed dry and the irony of singing the spirituals Deep River and Didn’t it Rain wasn’t lost on us.

There were two notable milestones in this performance.

First was complex six-part singing concurrent with playing tuned wine glasses in the ethereal Stars by Eriks Estevals. This piece is now a firm Cloud9 favourite and induced both tears and goosebumps in some of our audience members. Secondly, we added Church Slavonic to the list of languages we’ve sung in with Bogoroditse Devo from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil.

We loved singing some of our other favourites: Seal Lullaby, Wherever You Are and the Cantique de Jean Racine among a variety of new pieces.

We were thrilled to welcome our guest performers, Hilary Taylor and Roger Heagney OAM. Hilary has performed with the Royal Opera, the Glyndebourne and Salzburg Festivals, the Victoria State Opera and Australian Opera. Roger is a pianist, harpsichordist, composer and choral conductor and accompanied Hilary in this performance including three of his own compositions.

Some of our audience members told us their favourite part of the concert was when Cloud9 spontaneously began quietly humming in the back row to accompany Hilary’s beautiful rendition of O Holy Night.

Enormous thanks to Gloria and Annabelle, Hilary and Roger and everyone in Cloud9 who worked behind the scenes to ensure this performance ran smoothly. We are immensely grateful to our loyal family and friends who braved the rain to support us. We loved hearing yet again that this was ‘our best concert ever!’

We are already looking forward to meeting again on February 1st to begin another year of creating beautiful music together.

JM, Cloud9 Member



Almost ready for showtime

Didn’t it rain!

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Cloud9 at the Voices of Women Choral Festival

It was such a thrill for Cloud9 to sing with more than 200 choral voices in the finale to the 10th Voices of Women choral festival on Saturday 23rd September. Together we premiered “Riversong” a piece commissioned for the festival and composed by Australian Keren Terpstra. 

We followed it up with “Wherever You Are” by Paul Mealor who was inspired by poems, letters and prayers written by military wives and first performed by The Military Wives Choir in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall.

For our own Cloud9 performance, we showcased our Baroque to Broadway theme. We began with Vivaldi’s Gloria and Purcell’s Sound the Trumpet, followed by well-known Broadway hits, I’ve got you under my skin and 42nd Street.  Great fun! 

We also really appreciated hearing wonderful performances by Melbourne Women’s Choir, Women of Note, The Casey Choir, The Australian Girls’ Choir, Majellan Singers and Grace Notes Singers.

Many thanks to Gloria and Annabelle for preparing the Choir for the Festival.

Our thanks also to the indefatigable Faye Dumont for organising this 10th choral festival. 

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Welcome to Term 3

What a great start to the term. It was nearly a full house with almost every member of the choir there buzzing with the excited anticipation of a new term, a change of routine and learning some new music.

In Gloria’s absence on leave, Ben Leske took our first rehearsal for the term. The choir responded to all that Ben (gently) threw at us. With a belief that learning without music is a powerful leveler within a choir, we started with “A Million Nightingales”, a round in two parts. Glorious music that swoops and weaves around itself, a bit like birds fluttering in flight.

Ben also started us on two new works we will perform at the Voices of Women Choral Festival to be held at MLC on 23 September. Whilst Cloud 9 will have the opportunity to sing its own chosen repertoire, these two works will be sung en masse by the 7 participating choirs.   One work has been specially commissioned for the event from Melbourne based composer, Karen Terpstra. Both are very beautiful works written specifically for women’s voices. It should be a great experience for the choirs singing them and for the listening audience!

Ben is not new to Cloud9. He had previously taken a Cloud 9 rehearsal for us 4 years ago and introduced Cloud 9 to the beautiful “Let it Go”, which has become one of our signature pieces. He also wrote a “Cloud 9 Song” which talks about singing in beautiful harmony, something which makes being a member of Cloud 9 such a special experience. We finished singing in the round with the traditional Georgian healing song “Batonebo”, another new work for the evening and, of course, “Let it Go”.

Many thanks to Ben and welcome back Gloria for the rest of the term!

JS (Choir Member)




Leigh Wigglesworth 1933 – 2016


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