School concerts and musical performances are always a highlight for me as a grandparent. With ten grandchildren ranging from 14 months to 14 years I have had many invitations to share the excitement and enjoy watching the children participate and contribute to musical events.
The theme and focus of these performances has varied from concert to concert but the children are always excited about performing and entertaining their audience. I am always amazed by the enthusiasm of the children and their eagerness to do their best and perform well on the stage whether they are acting, singing, dancing or playing musical instruments. As well as being impressed by the talents and skills of the young people performing I am also aware of the support and encouragement that is provided in the background by the teachers and leaders who have worked with the children and prepared them for their final performances. Particularly impressive is the way teachers work collaboratively to support and encourage students with their various projects and performances.
As well as attending school concerts and performances, musical recitals and orchestral performances I have also been fortunate in being able to attend a number of concerts featuring the Boite Schools Chorus which provide amazing learning experiences for young people. The quality of these concerts has been outstanding on every occasion and a feature of these events has been the collaborative nature of the projects. Teachers and choir leaders from many different schools work together to produce an amazing outcome. The Boite Schools Chorus productions which I have attended have been projects for schools and community youth choirs that have involved students across Victoria. The performances featuring massed choirs of 200 plus have been outstanding. Two of these concerts were held at the Melbourne Town Hall and prior to that I attended a concert at Federation Square in Melbourne.
The Boite is an organisation which supports culturally diverse artists and works towards raising community awareness. The school choirs program requires singers across the state to learn a set repertoire so that they are able to meet and perform together at a grand concert. The program broadens the horizons of the children who participate. Each year the chorus focusses on a different cultural theme and the stories and music are well-researched and presented providing an amazing learning experience for those involved. The focus of the concerts that I have attended has been on storytelling with a cultural theme through music.
The focus for 2018 was a Mission Songs Project which was an initiative to research and revive songs composed and performed on the aboriginal missionary settlements and it researched responses across Australia during the mission era of around 1901 to 1967. The songs tell stories of indigenous families and communities and are about day to day life in the missions. The Choir Director this year was Jessica Hitchcock who is an award winning Indigenous singer, song writer, musician, composer and director. Jessica was an inspiration for the group of more than 200 students which she led with enthusiasm. The choir produced beautiful sounds and harmony, as she led the children through an hour of singing and movement.
The process of building this choir experience was complex but effective. The children began singing the songs in small groups with their choir leaders and after much practice and training the children in the various groups joined together and ultimately produced an amazing performance. The audience were definitely impressed but the experience for the children working on this project was exciting and one which will not quickly be forgotten. As well as learning a lot about music and the challenges of singing together the children were introduced to stories, songs and history of our indigenous communities. There were a number of Concerts scheduled around the same time with different children performing the same program at different venues. The Concert that I attended was at the Melbourne Town Hall and there were approximately 30 participating choirs who joined together for this outstanding performance. Jessie Lloyd, the Artistic Director is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, musician, composer, director, curator and musicologist. She launched the Mission Songs Project CD and Concerts in 2017 after extensive research into the day to day life and music of the mission days across Australia. For the children involved this was a positive and fun musical experience which demonstrated what can be achieved when individuals work together to achieve a common goal.