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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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.

AW


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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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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.


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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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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!