WHEN Stein Alia first joined gay and lesbian singing group Qwire it was a group of 10 people who met in a lounge room and sang songs.
Now it’s a dynamic group of more than 80 people who are planning a jam-packed year of performances to celebrate the group’s 20th birthday.
Stein, who is the Qwire convenor, says the biggest change over the past two decades has been in attitudes.
She recalls a photo that was taken at a Qwire performance on World AIDS Day where many people were wearing sunglasses because they didn’t want to be recognised.
“The members have a lot more confidence about being out in public now. People were a lot more nervous about being in a gay and lesbian choir in public. It was a bit scary for them, I think,” she says.
Stein says the Canberra community is very positive about Qwire, which is invited to perform at a range of events from school fetes and the National Folk Festival, to “prestigious” functions at Parliament House and the National Gallery.
Last year, one of the big gigs was opening the MusicACT Music Awards (MAMAs) and this year they will perform at the centenary celebrations on Canberra Day on the symphony stage outside Old Parliament House.
Under the direction of Ken Teoh, Qwire is a non-auditioned choir that rehearses for a couple of hours each week.
They sing everything from classical to pop tunes and in the past year, have belted out hits from Meatloaf, Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga.
Stein says members range in age from early 20s to early 70s.
“We’re a very social group… We’re all about singing the music we love and enjoying ourselves on stage. We want the audience to enjoy themselves as much as we do,” she says.