Birthday choir has something to sing about

By Freyla Ferguson

Belco choir

Luke Davis, 9, with fellow chorister Lesley Truesdale, 90.

MORE than 70 budding performers will come together in song on November 5 to celebrate Belconnen’s 50th birthday.

With its youngest chorister only eight years old and its eldest 90 – the community choir led by renowned composer and conductor Stephen Leek will perform an original work by Leek as part of the BelcoNOW Night Festival’s finale at the Belconnen Arts Centre.

The performance will be part of a “fire-burning spectacular”, when a giant collaborative bird sculpture will be set alight on the lake to the sounds of the community choir.

Leek, who is the artistic director/manager of the Young Music Society, says they were truly overwhelmed by the community’s response to the choir.

“Whole families have come down, people who haven’t sung before, or people who haven’t sung since school. It’s been really overwhelming,” he says

“When get to the performance it’s going to be mammoth.”

Leek worked across the globe as a freelance composer for 35 years before returning earlier this year to hometown Canberra to lead the Young Music Society.

“I’ve been around the world working with people in countries like China and Taiwan on community choirs, so for me the Canberra community choir isn’t so much a new experience but a chance to bring my experience back to Canberra after 35 years away,” he says.

“People are all the same, the same the world over about sharing something beyond themselves and becoming a part of a bigger community.

“It’s a really bonding experience.”

Although the choir was created for the BelcoNOW festival, Leek says people have already expressed an interest in continuing on after the festival is over.

“I said ‘let’s do it’,” he says.

“The call has come from within the choir – people are really enjoying singing with their kids and their partners. Families are singing together in the car.”

He says one woman was singing in the supermarket when another chorister recognised the song and began singing herself. He says they ended up becoming friends.

BelcoNOW is a free community event to celebrate Belconnen’s 50th birthday and will include live entertainment, free arts and craft activities, children’s face painting, film screenings plus food and drinks.

At dusk, large Belco bird lanterns – sculptures facilitated by award-winning artist Tracy Luff and local artisans will be set afloat on the lake. This will culminate in the fire-burning spectacular and the community choir’s performance.

BelcoNOW, part of the Belco50 celebrations, at the Belconnen Arts Centre, 118 Emu Bank, Belconnen, 5pm to 8pm, Saturday, November 5. Visit belconnenartscentre.com.au/whatson/belconow or call 6173 3300.

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