Cloud9 Women's Choir

Coming together to share the joy of singing


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Cloud9 Women’s Choir – A ten year reflection

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’!


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Our 10th Anniversary concert: Saturday 3rd September

Cloud9 choir members are excitedly rehearsing for our 10-year Anniversary concert, scheduled for September 3rd.

We have had four Music Directors in our 10 years, all of whom have taken us on musical journeys which have delighted, surprised, and sometimes challenged us. It is a measure of the pure joy we get from singing together that well over half our members have been in the choir for the full 10 years.

With input from the choir, our current Music Director Kerry, has put together a selection of our favourite works and then added in some gorgeous new works to complement them. 

So put the date in your diary whilst we continue enjoying rehearsing to make this a very special and memorable concert. We’d love you to join us!


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Cloud 9 Re-emergence Concert, 9 April 2022

Forget the selfies: this is how a choir member’s 6-year-old family member captured our first concert in over 2 years. Here we are, singing our hearts out and showing off our many coloured outfits. How wonderfully she has caught our individuality.

And what a buzz we got from our return to performance! In her first concert with Cloud 9, Music Director Kerry led us through a range of songs chosen especially to mark our return to performing and to provide a salve for the effects of the last 2 years of living with Covid.

The works came from around the world and explored the themes of courage, resilience, renewal and the power of nature and togetherness. From Will Todd’s Like a Rainbow Shining written in 2020 as a response to Covid, to Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies, it was a masterful program; thoughtful, meditative, uplifting, and joyful. 

Our accompanist Sam performed two of his own compositions, Autumn Winds and Spring Rains, in a superbly virtuosic manner which had the audience totally enthralled.

I’m now looking forward to our September concert which will be particularly special as we will be marking the 10th Anniversary of the formation of Cloud9 Women’s Choir. Watch this site or our Facebook page for further details.

Janice, Choir and Committee member.


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Bring on 2022!

We are so looking forward to another year of great singing, fun and friendship with the talented and enthusiastic support of our music director, Kerry and accompanist, Sam. 

One thing with Covid is that we never know what’s going to come next, but I like the analogy of “dancing on a shifting carpet”. That’s what we did last year and what we will continue to do this year. The last two years have not stopped us singing – even if it has been mostly remotely – and that has made the times when we have been able to get together all the sweeter. 

As well as our scheduled rehearsals on Thursday evenings and hopefully some live performances, 2022 will be an exceptional year for Cloud9. Later in the year, we will celebrate the 10 years that Cloud 9 choristers have been singing together. We’ll be celebrating the beautiful music we have sung over that time and acknowledging the contribution that each of our Music Directors has made to the choir we have become.

A warm welcome back for existing and new Cloud 9 choristers. And a warm welcome waits for anyone thinking of joining us. Just send us an email and we will be in touch.

Janice

Choir member and Committee Chair 2022

Masks or no masks, we just love singing together!


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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