29 August 2023

Choirs ready to fill Wagga with song at this year's eisteddfod

| Chris Roe
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The UNISONg Wagga Women’s Choir meeting Marcia Hines at a recent performance. Photo: Supplied.

As parents know only too well, the City of Wagga Wagga Music Eisteddfod is looming large and venues across the city will be filled with chattering children, music and performance from next week.

The kids have been practising in earnest to raise their voices and represent their schools and performance groups, and the region’s adult choirs are also gearing up to take the stage.

“It’s getting pretty exciting, actually,” said the music committee’s Sophie Mason.

“It’s our first year at the Civic Theatre and there’s lots of talk of just how that’s going to go and in increasing the professionalism of the performances.

“And of course, the conservatorium is in the new building and that’s really going to change things too, so it’s going to be incredible.”

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It’s the eisteddfod’s 102nd year and Sophie said interest was growing.

“Perhaps it’s because we advertised where we would be performing and there’s a lot of excitement around performing in those spaces,” she explained.

“There has been more interest from schools and studios in Wagga and further afield from Leeton, Griffith, Canberra and Albury.”

eisteddfod program

Friday, 8 September is the big day at the Wagga Civic Centre. Photo: Supplied.

Performances will kick off on Tuesday (5 September) at the Riverina Conservatorium of Music and continue at several venues across Wagga until Sunday.

On Friday, they will take over the main stage of the Civic Theatre for a full day of school choirs and in the evening, the region’s adult choirs will strut their stuff.

“This year we have an appearance from all of our local choirs, which again has been a bit of a drawcard and it’s just a great performance opportunity,” Sophie said.

“There’s such a high standard from the six local choirs from Wagga, and Junee is coming across too.

“This is a chance for the community to hear them all at once and it’s also a great recruitment drive for them.”

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Lyn Hogan is the director of UNISONg, the Wagga Women’s Community Choir, which began a couple of years ago through the Women’s Health Centre.

“For its size, Wagga has quite a few choirs, so we’re really spoilt for choice,” Lyn said.

“What sets our choir apart is that we are low-pressure and our focus is on healing through music and making connections socially.”

Lyn said members had formed strong connections through the regular Monday night rehearsals and for some, the experience had been life-changing.

“It’s not about being the best choir in the world but everyone can sing and everyone has a voice,” she said.

“There’s a lot of research-based evidence about what music can do for people and what that social interaction can do for mental health.

“We’re all from diverse backgrounds and having the chance to perform is just so uplifting for all these women who have come together.”

Sophie Mason agrees that the emphasis for everyone involved is on celebrating and fostering a love of music.

“It’s an invaluable performance opportunity that helps with confidence and there’s also the chance to get some professional feedback about how to improve your musical game,” she said.

“For the kids it’s not a school assignment, you’re not being forced to be up there and you might also be out there doing something you enjoy and have been working hard on.

“Even if you get up there and make a mistake, it’s OK because you can push on and there’s such a positive sense of self-satisfaction in doing that.”

You can learn more about the Wagga Eisteddfod here.

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