Cathy Welsford – Community Choir

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Beyond Empathy celebrated Harmony Day 2015 by launching a new project that brings Armidale’s international communities together with the Aboriginal and broader communities – creating connections around the idea of “home” through music, art and stories.

We catch up with Cathy Welsford, community musician and co-director of the multicultural community choir that is bringing people together in a fun, friendly and musical way!

Tell us about the HOME multicultural community choir?

A community choir is a fantastic way for people to come together to have fun and get to know each other while making music. And singing is a great way to relax and feel good!

Everyone is welcome to come along and be a part of the choir – young, old and in between. No experience is necessary. No one has to audition or be in the spotlight. We are all there to have some fun.

Rather than leading the group, I am collaborating with the choir – and with other artists, including well-known local musician Anthony Green.

We are meeting weekly to share and enjoy a diverse and multicultural repertoire of music. In fact, one of the really nice aspects of the choir so far has been the willingness of people to share their music and personal stories and experiences around the music.

Another highlight is all the laughter amongst the music!

How did the choir come about?

The choir has been developed as part of Beyond Empathy’s HOME project, with support from Multicultural NSW’s Unity Grants Program. HOME is a multi-arts project which includes the creation of the community choir, photographic portraits and storytelling.

Our hope is that the new choir will not duplicate existing musical opportunities in Armidale, but will engage with a new group of people who will then have an opportunity to create alongside and in collaboration with other existing choirs. The choir is intended as a forum to connect people!

The choir does also offer an opportunity for the international community to develop their English language skills through song. At the same time, it gives everyone the chance to share their own musical culture, develop new friendships, find common ground and develop a sense of place here in Armidale.

Are there any plans for the choir?

While our main objective is meeting regularly and creating a space for people to connect and sing, performances are planned for several events, including No Shame Day in December and Harmony Day in March 2016. We hope that the choir will continue to meet and grow!

How can someone find out more about the choir?

The choir has been meeting weekly from 10:30am until 11:30am on Saturdays at Kent House.

Because our group includes families, we won’t meet on school holidays, but will continue to gather weekly through school terms.

The time or venue may change in the future if the group finds that the existing arrangement is not ideal. We aim to please!

If anyone has any questions, or would like to find out more, they can contact Ned McDowell on 0428 677 763 or check out the Beyond Empathy website www.be.org.au

Thanks Cathy.

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