MILESTONE: The men, Eric von Nida, Lloyd King, Bob Hardy, Andy Jones, Alan Hayward and Wally Kerswell letting people know
MILESTONE: The men, Eric von Nida, Lloyd King, Bob Hardy, Andy Jones, Alan Hayward and Wally Kerswell letting people know "There's Nothin' Like a Dame" from 'South Pacific" cONTRIBUTED

Esk Choir shines at its first 40th anniversary celebration

JUST AS the sweet sounds of optimism resonated from the small group who sang around Alexis FitzGerald's piano in 1978, so were choir's past and present voices singing in unison to herald the Esk Community Choir's 40th Anniversary Opening Concert.

Held at the Somerset Civic Centre on Sunday, April 8 the Opening Concert was the first of many celebratory events to be held throughout the year in honour of the milestone.

Choir member of 11 years, Sue walker said a capacity audience was treated to many inspirational performances translating their 40 year journey through narration, picture, music and song. The celebration was eloquently emceed by Somerset Regional Councillor Sean Choat who brought to life the months of preparation by choirmaster Alexis, accompanist, Margaret Philip and and the 50 plus choir members whilst keeping the show on track and the audience engaged.

"A trio piano performance of Qui Vive by choir accompanists, Alexis, Margaret and Ruth Skippen was not only unique in concept at a concert such as this, but was of the highest artistic quality and thrilled the audience,” she said.

The 50 member-four-part Esk Choir wowed the capacity audience at the first of its 40th anniversary celebrations
The 50 member-four-part Esk Choir wowed the capacity audience at the first of its 40th anniversary celebrations cONTRIBUTED

"Representative small groups, ensembles both ladies' and men's, a small group of the now bigger 'semi-tones' and the full choral sounds of the choir interspersed with appearances by Elvis, aka Lloyd King, the guys from the choir's performance of South Pacific and those naughty nuns from Sister Act all spoke of the journey of four decades of the choir.”

Holly Smith, recipient of the choir's $1000 bursary in 2010 returned to the stage for a sublime clarinet performance accompanied by Alexis on piano.

A now a talented young lady in her 20s, Holly has forged an exciting musical career path as a part-time teacher of woodwind, a member of the Queensland Youth Orchestra and a university student studying for her graduate diploma of education.

Ms Walker said it was an honour to have Holly return to the civic centre stage to perform on clarinet alongside Alexis's piano accompaniment, the mellifluous sounds of Fughetta.

"That and Pie Jesu was performed so beautifully by the Esk male choir and surely whet audience appetites for what was to follow,” she said.

Ms Walker said the celebration was deserved by all choir members who had been part of the journey.

"The final bracket of three songs was an amazing sound of the massed voices of all the Esk choir members... a collaboration of accompaniment by Margaret and Beverley Biggs, an accompanist for many years,” Ms Walker said.

"The audience gave them a standing ovation.

"Following the performances, choir members past and present, along with special guests and sponsors were invited to partake of a delicious lunch over which friends united and memories were recalled. It was then Alexis was presented with a beautiful pink rose bush, created by choir member Eric Von Nida and formally named 'Rosa Alexis Fitzgerald', a lasting gift to a lady who has given to many so much of herself and in doing so, transformed the lives of hundreds.”

For those who may have missed the choir's Opening Concert performance, be sure to get to the next anniversary celebration called A Saucy Sunday on May 6 when Love is in the Air will be an afternoon not to be missed at the Alexandra Hall located at 111 Cressbrook St, Toogooglawah at 2.30pm.


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