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  • Six Years Old and a Cut Above!
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 8 Apr 2024
    Six Years Old and a Cut Above!
    On Saturday 6 April in Creswick, the streets were alive with the annual CresFestcelebration of music and arts, a weekend of dancing, busking, international musicians and avariety of choirs - including the Macedon Ranges' own much-loved Warblers.
    The Woodend Warblers have performed many public gigs before, but this one was considered by many to be their best ever. Sung to the crowd from the steps of Creswick'shistoric post office, their repertoire ranged from the gentle “Won't Let You Drown” to a lively performance of the Beach Boys' “Fun Fun Fun” which had audience members smiling and dancing. A particular favourite was “Freedom is Coming”, a gospel song written by those committed to ending apartheid in South Africa.

    One of the Warbler's original sopranos, Trish said “I immediately felt at home in Creswick on finding the pub full at ten in the morning, with the strains of an Irish jig flowing out onto the street!”. Another soprano, Rachel, commented afterwards:  CresFest was such a special event for us. The crowd was so engaged and warm – just a delight to perform for!”

    The Woodend Warblers have been in existence for six years now, growing from a small group of beginners who swore they couldn't sing and would definitely never perform in public to a confident choir of forty regular members who love nothing more than showing off their latest songs to anyone who'll listen.

    A member from another choir commented: “The Warblers really are a cut above: so professional and solid in their songs”. And an audience member expressed delight that a community choir could sound so good – “fabulous variety of songs and really good harmonies.” These comments are a credit to the hard work that Andrew Price, choir director, puts in to teaching the Warblers every week. They meet at 7.30 pm on Wednesdays at the Norma Richardson Hall in Woodend. Andrew reassures new members that no singing experience is required, that “if you can speak, you can sing”. Plenty of mistakes are made, but Andrew has an endless amount of patience and is very encouraging; rehearsals are full of laughter and everyone is made to feel an important part of the choir.

    Bass singer Max became quite poetic in his praise of the day: “Music in the country is the road to happiness, and singing is the highway to enjoyment”. As a finale and a surprise to the audience, the Warblers “interrupted” another choir (run by Melbourne director Sue Johnson) performing a brand new song which the Warblers had been practising in secret. Singers were astonished to suddenly find a flash mob of Warblers joining them on stage for a dramatic performance of “Laid Bare”, written by Sue only a few months earlier.

    The Woodend Warblers have members from as far afield as Northcote and Castlemaine and welcome new singers. The first session is free, and term fees are $10 per week (or $12 for a single week). Ring Andrew Price for more information 0419 604 444 – or just turn up!

    The final word goes to tenor singer Marina, who has been with the choir since its early days: “You couldn't find a better or friendlier mob of people to sing with. To be honest, Warblers literally changed my life.”
  • Don't Stop Us Now!
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 10 May 2023

    This is going to sound like a travel blog but for those readers who have not yet visited the Murtoa Stick Shed, make sure it is on your ‘to do list’.  You will thank me for it!  Almost four years to the day since our first public performance, the Woodend Warblers had the opportunity to return to Murtoa, a quaint lakeside town in the Wimmera, having been invited to join in the town’s 150th birthday celebrations. 

    In 2018 just twelve members of the fledgling choir took part in the Murtoa Big Sing.  In 2022, 36 Warblers, under the Direction of Andrew Price, headed up the highway for a day of singing and camaraderie.  Sadly, the concert was not held in the Stick Shed as originally planned but the Warblers managed to have an impromptu sing-along in this soaring edifice between rehearsals.  Several other choirs were also invited to the celebrations and we came together for a goose-bump rendition of Amazing Grace accompanied by bagpipes. 

    The Warblers entertained a packed Mechanic’s Hall with a range of numbers to highlight our repertoire; Siyahamba, And I Love Her, Don’t Stop Me Now, In This Heart and the rousing One Day Like This.  An After Party was held at the Marma Gully Hotel, metres from the venue.  The hotel was built in 1913 but had fallen into disrepair and is being lovingly restored to its former glory by our hosts Geoff and Thelma. 

    For me the highlight of the evening was being ‘piped’ back to the hotel to the tune of ‘A Scottish Soldier’.

  • Notes From a Wobbly Warbler
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 9 May 2023

    What! Me? Sing?

    When my daughter, newly arrived in Woodend with her family this year, suggested I join her to give Woodend Warblers a try, all I could think of were obstacles. I hadn’t sung in a choir since school, over half a century ago. I don’t read music. I don’t play an instrument. I am rather deaf and wear hearing aids.

    But we summoned our limited courage and turned up at Norma Richardson Hall at 7.30pm on a Wednesday evening in February. We checked in and were welcomed by conductor Andrew Price who asked what section we sing. I have a deep voice, certainly not soprano, so I guessed alto. No audition, no try out, we were just directed to the far side of the hall!

    This is a most friendly group, with some experienced choristers who are very happy to stand behind you and help you out with tricky bits. Andrew keeps it fun. He hands out duplicated sheet music, but as this is a very modern choir, he also puts up the music and audio of the separate sung parts on the Warblers’ website. So you can practise at home. The music covers a range of popular songs, spirituals and carols for Christmas.

    During the year we have had tedious pandemic times when we could not meet. Then silly times, hyperventilating when trying to sing through duck-bill masks. But now, unmasked, double vaxxed, and with more singers returning, we are in great voice. We’ve even performed in public again.
    And by the end of the year? Buzzing confusion for me, has given way to greater confidence. I have new friends. Singing in this choir is therapeutic. I love it!

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