CHOIRS have become a popular pastime in recent years with local groups with a collective interest in singing springing up.
One of those newly formed choirs is Wild Honey which formed under the leadership of Pauline Latham about 18 months ago.
Mrs Latham, an alto/tenor, said she and her friends who were members of another community choir in Nowra were restless and looking for a greater musical challenge and a lot less travel.
“We are just a couple of friends who were looking around for something a little more edgy and when we couldn’t find it we thought we’d have a crack at it,” Mrs Latham said.
“It’s turned into a huge adventure really,” she said.
The group enjoy moving through complex key changes and building layers into their sound – finding influence from jazz and some popular gospel songs and are now heading to Wollongong for the Choir-tly Loud Festival this weekend.
“We have been practising weekly and we are all really looking forward to it,” Mrs Latham said.
Joy Sharpe from local choir Food of Love said she had noticed a significant increase in the number of local choirs since 2009.
“I was a part of a big project called Voices of Love and Justice. Over 240 people participated in that and since then I’ve seen an increase in community choirs,” said Ms Sharpe.
“I guess it sparked people’s interest. Glee has helped with the popularity as well,” she said.
Food of Love has been around since 1998. Ms Sharpe said being open to anyone who had an interest in singing might be the reason for the growing popularity of choirs.
“[Members] don’t have to have sung before or be able to read music so to me that has attracted people who haven’t had an opportunity to sing before in their life,” said Ms Sharpe.
“It’s fairly typical for people who have never sung in public before to join groups because they have lacked the confidence, but no auditions are necessary and it’s a way for us to be a part of community events and have some fun.
“There has been a steady interest in singing and with more events like the Choir-tly Loud Festival it’s not surprising that there are now more groups around,” she said.
The success of local choirs can also be seen at local schools including the Nowra East Public School’s choir which recently won the school encouragement award at the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod this year.
Shoalhaven Eisteddfod president George Windsor said this year 26 groups entered the eisteddfod compared with just 16 entries in 2006.
“It’s interesting to see how the entries have lifted,” said Mr Windsor .
“We have been pushing the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod in schools with prizes for winners including the $1000 awarded this year and we have also sent $25 gift vouchers for books to all participating schools to award to the most enthusiastic student.
“We are hoping for more participation by schools and it has been a delight to me to see the improvements and the efforts of the Nowra East Public School choir.
“I heard they did a fabulous 30-minute repertoire at the Spring Festival cocktail party, bringing tears to the audience’s eyes,” he said.
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