The setting: the century-old-and-then-some Castlemaine Uniting Church
The occasion: the multi - faith Peace Concert
It all started with a chant written by the Dalai Lama, presented by the monks of Drati Khangtsen monastery who were introduced by the Venerable Lozang Tenzin, who is a Victorian born Buddhist monk - or perhaps Buddhist nun would be more precise - and quite possibly the only woman in the room with a hair cut shorter than mine.
Hers, however, wasn't dyed purple for the occasion
It finished with our Peace Choir, joined for the final verse by The Arcafellas and The Chat Warblers, and John Lennon's incomparable "Imagine" sung in the glow of hundreds of candles.
In between we had 2 hours of beautiful music across a wide range of genres, sung by the many community based choirs of our very musically oriented city.
...the Arcafellas [ including one young father who cradled his new babe for the entire performance ]
...the other 'gender specific' choir, The Chat Warblers
...A lovely folk/gospel group, The Blenders - rather unfortunate choice of name notwithstanding - who were joined later by Mainly Gospel for some close harmony - and perhaps you can see why certain members of my extended family refer to this area as Hippy Central and/or Hippy Heaven.
and of course our Peace Choir accompanied by James Rigby on the guitar to finish up.
To be honest I think most of us were a little apprehensive [ shit-scared was the phrase used by one male singer I believe ] mainly because the other groups have all been together for a very long time and sounded absolutely bloody wonderful, with clear tight harmonies, whereas OUR experience of group harmonics stretches back into the dim mists of ... oh, about 2 months ago.
Jane and James being the smart little choir master/mistress that they are, let the audience in on the open secret of out relative inexperience - thank goodness -
The response was slightly overwhelming actually. It escalated with each song and by the penultimate one was almost a roar ... Felt pretty damn good if you want to know.
David sat in the front pew and was beautifully behaved for the whole time although there may have been a bit of vocalising to some of our songs... and why not? he'd been to most of the rehersals and he WAS wearing a Peace Choir T-shirt after all.
Make A Change - Buckwheat Zydeco
Peace Must Come - Paul Metzers [ New Zealand ]
Bridge Over Troubled Waters - Paul Simon
Am I not Pretty Enough - Kasey Chambers
Three Little Birds - a lullaby based on the singing of Bob Marley's mum
and of course
The funny thing was the [relative] quiet after we sang Imagine - you can't clap with a lit candle apparently... mind you, some got round that by stamping their feet instead.
Although we had to extinguish the candles to walk out of the church for safety reasons, everyone was encouraged to relight them at the door so that those tiny bobbing symbols of hope could lead us out into the clear, crisp, autumn night.