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1998 - our 1st year

The legend begins!

The first year of Leichhardt Espresso Chorus laid some solid foundations for the dynamic organisation that we would become in later years.

LEC pictured during the Carols Concert on 11 December 1998

Laying foundations

Elizabeth Mulrennan initiated the choir by placing an advertisement in the window of her Norton Street Bookshop. This attracted about 20 intrepid people to join her at the first rehearsal a few weeks later. There they met the choirs' founding Artistic Director, Michelle Leonard (pictured at right).

In addition to learning to sing some songs, there was much early discussion given to choosing a name that reflected the choir's base in Sydney's inner west. Since Norton Street is famed as Sydney's Little Italy and for producing great coffee, the name was chose accordingly!

Rehearsals during LEC's first year were held at St Columba's School, Leichhardt. Michelle gave her new singers the goal of performing their first concert mid year.

First performances

LEC's first concert was staged with 22 singers at St Columba's School, Leichhardt in June 1998. There were 8 songs in the repertoire, many of which were performed twice! 

Word of mouth worked its wonders so that the choir had swelled to nearly 40 singers for its Christmas concerts in December.

In the lead up to the two Christmas concerts, the choir got the word out by singing at fetes at both Annandale North Primary School and Leichhardt Public School. The first Christmas Carols concert was also staged at St Columba's School, on 11 December 1998, followed by another Christmas Carols concert two days later at the Leichhardt Public School Hall. 

And there was one more gig to go to end our first year on a real high. Michelle arranged for LEC singers to be included in the massed choir that performed in the Carols in the Domain concert on 19 December 1998 and broadcast live by Channel 7. There was a lot of music to learn over three rehearsals in the week beforehand. And, of course, being part of a professional production was a steep learning curve for our inexperienced singers. Who would have thought, a few months earlier, that we would be sharing a stage with Hugh Jackman, David Hobson, peter Cousens, Monica Trapaga, Simon Gallaher, Georgie Parker and The Wiggles! But we learnt a lot and were still singing under the Christmas tree in Martin Place some hours after the concert finished!

Behind the scenes

LEC did not have any formalised administrative arrangements for running the choir in this first year. So most of the work behind the scenes was carried out by Michelle Leonard and Elizabeth Mulrennan. Shae Fleming assisted with designing and printing the choir's first souvenir program for the Christmas Concert on 13 December (see above).

Stalwarts

A few of LEC's first year members were still associated with the choir in 2011, including Michelle Leonard, Shae Fleming, Kate Allnutt, Therese Briggs and Jim Fleming.

New Singers

The following singers joined LEC for the first time this year: Tom Alegounarias, Kath Allen, Kate Allnutt, Margaret Barclay, Richard Beamish, Diane Bell, Therese Briggs, Nikki Brown, Jan Carr, Perina Connell, Michael Cosby, Eddy Crook, Suzanne Donnelly, Lynne Elliot, Simon Emsley, Jim Fleming, Shae Fleming, Rodney Hammett, James Hart, Ruth Heazlewood, Cheryl Hunt, Chris Hutch, Malcolm James, Vincent King, Denise Marshall, Carol McCormack, Elizabeth Mulrennan, Karen Myers, Pip Naivasha, Cheryl Oman, Joy Pardey, Richard Pipes, Renee Reynolds, Cath Schmelzer, Greg Smith, Jane Stevens-Hall, Chris Wilson, Peter Zadro.

First song

And finally, here is a video recording of LEC's first performance.

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