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2011 - our 14th year

Ten years of Carols on Norton

We bookended this year with concerts that exemplify our aim to promote choral music in our community by working with other arts organisations. We started by organizing, at short notice, a benefit concert in support of the victims of the Queensland floods. And the year ended with the tenth annual Carols on Norton with Community Lantern Parade.

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LEC pictured after our 2011 Sonnets and Sax concert with conductor Dan Walker, Accompanist Luke Byrne and Continuum Sax

Performances

During December 2010 and January 2011, Brisbane and South East Queensland was devastated by flooding that resulted in 35 deaths and over $2 billion damage. At least 70 towns and 200,000 people were affected. LEC's Artistic Director, Michelle Leonard, swung into action to organise the Queensland Flood Appeal concert at very short notice. Much of this action happened in Austria as Michelle was based in Salzburg at the time! Obviously she enjoyed great support from LEC's committee, volunteers and many like-minded musicians from Sydney's inner-west.

The concert in February brought together many great musicians in the inner west with the support of the two inner-west councils, Marrickville and Leichhardt. More than $11,800 was raised in support of flood victims.

You can hear the massed choir singing Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium on LEC's Youtube channel (click below).

Massed choir performs O Magnum Mysterium at the Queensland Flood Appeal concert

In April, LEC performed Haydn's Heiligmesse at St James Church in Sydney. The audience loved our rendition of this music that had not been performed in Sydney for many, many years.

Our major concert of the year was Sonnets and Sax, staged at the Italian Forum Cultural Centre in Leichhardt. LEC's Artistic Director, Michelle Leonard, built this program around works by four Australian composers, Dan Walker, David Basden, Martin Kaye and Matthew Hindson. Two of these works were world premieres: Lines in the Sand by Dan Walker and How Many Miles to Babylon by David Basden. Continuum Sax played Olfieg by Martin Kaye and Video Game Dreaming: Game Boy Music by Matthew Hindson. And there were songs by Rutter, Willan and Bennet.

In putting this stunning concert together, Michelle Leonard worked closely with Dan Walker, who also prepared the choir (with the assistance of accompanist Luke Byrne) and conducted the performances.

 LEC performing Spring, part of Dan Walker's Lines in the Sand composition for LEC's Sonnets and Sax concert in 2011.

In September, LEC travelled to Baradine and Coonamble for the Moorambilla Choral Fe

stival. The music commissioned by the festival this year related to the Macquarie Marshes and our stressed river systems. LEC members were excited to perform at the festival alongside wonderful ensembles including TaikozSydney Brass and the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

Our Christmas season music this year comprised two concerts: A Christmas Conundrum (11 December at the Italian Forum Cultural Centre, Leichhardt) and Carols on Norton (18 December in Pioneers Memorial Park, Leichhardt).

Our chamber choir, Ristretto, also performed a Christmas concert for senior citizens and carols in the Sydney CBD as part of the City of Sydney's seasonal celebrations.

   February - Queensland Flood Appeal concert
   April - Heiligmesse
   June - Sonnets and Sax
   September - Moorambilla Choral Festival
   November - A Christmas Conundrum
   Dec - City of Sydney Senior Citizens Carols (Ristretto)
   December - Carols on Norton

Commissions

LEC commissioned nine new songs and co-commissioned one in 2011. These were:
Premiere    Composer               Name
2011                                                                                           
26 Jun        Dan Walker             Lines in the Sand (3 movements)
                David Basden          How Many Miles to Babylon
18 Dec        Billie McCarthy        Carols on Norton Ten Year Anniversary Blues
                Christina Leonard     + O Come All Ye Faithful (Trad)
                Luke Byrne             + O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Trad)
                Luke Byrne             + Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Trad)
                Luke Byrne             + Six White Boomers (Rolf Harris)

Behind the scenes

Our Artistic Director, Michelle Leonard, was based in Salzburg for a major part of the year but still managed to lead the organization in her inimitable style and with her apparently boundless energy. She was ably supported by LEC's committee and volunteers and very ably assisted by our accompanist Luke Byrne and rehearsal conductors Dan Walker, Paul Stanhope and Kimbali Harding. And invaluable service was provided by the Skype internet communication system!

Despite the time spent in Salzburg this year, Michelle was nevertheless able to be "on deck" to conduct four out of the five concerts outlined above, plus Moorambilla. Dan Walker very capably conducted the choir and orchestra for the Sonnets and Sax concert in June.

The committee had implemented a number of initiatives aimed at helping choristers to master new music quickly. This year a further initiative was implemented: Sight Sing @ Six. All choristers were given an opportunity to improve their music skills, especially sight singing, with an hour class before each rehearsal provided by Amandine Petit.

LEC also supported singers to learn new music quickly by investing in the tools required to produce aural learning aids. This built on the foundation initiated by Jim Fleming in previous years.

This investment in chorister support paid off through better retention rates throughout the year. As a result, chorister numbers were up. The average number of singers per term was up to 82 from 71 in 2010 and 65 in 2009.

The committee secured a new three-year funding agreement with Leichhardt Council for Carols on Norton 2011-13. This security of funding allowed us, as producer of this large community event, to employ a professional Event Manager and Public Relations agent.

The members agreed to a committee proposal to change the Constitution to allow the organization to apply for Deductible Gift Recipient status, opening the way to develop a relationship with sponsors. Anyone can now make a tax-deductible donation to LEC by clicking here.

For the Heiligmesse concert in April we moved our online ticketing from our own website to the Trybooking.com system. This provides a very configurable and useful service for the choir and its customers; and it is very reasonably priced. The system was subsequently used for the Sonnets and Sax and Christmas Conundrum concerts with very good success.

Committee
President: Lliane Clarke
Vice President and Artistic Director: Michelle Leonard
Secretary: Pepe Newton
Treasurer: Chris Robinson
Committee: Mark Robinson, Miriam Poole, Richard Goodman, Jim Fleming

Accompanist
We were fortunate to have Luke Byrne continue as our regular accompanist this year.

Section Leaders
Sopranos: Margaret Grove, Suzanne Blythin and Lliane Clarke
Altos: Miriam Poole and Pepe Newton
Tenors: Mark Robinson
Basses: Chris Robinson, Richard Goodman and Jim Fleming

New Singers

45 new singers joined LEC for the first time this year: Laura Arnott, Jane Bancroft, Sally Baxter, Polly Bernard, Bronwen Black, Dominique Burke, Lilian Camenzuli, Mark Cardone, Heather Clemens, Pamela Coleman, John Colyer, Joel Couchman, Bronwyn Coulston, Debby Cramer, Ricky Davis, Rick Day, Patty Dinkelmann, Julie Elsworth, Allen Harroothunian, Karen Hibbard, Coletta Hobbs, Beverley Jan, Janice Killey, Tom Knapp, Felicity Kohut, Brenda Kranz, Tim Littlejohn, Madi Maclean, Lisa Maffina, Ian Marshall, Jane Marshall, Deborah Mills, Zeynep Ozcan, Robyn Phillips, Paul Raciborski, Isabel Robinson, Barbara Rysenbry, Marlyn Sciberras, Claire Sives, Adam Smith, Sally Steele, Aidan Whitham, Crista Wocadlo, Louisa Wright and Jan Zwar.

Photo Gallery: Ristretto performing for the senior citizens of the City of Sydney 

Twelve singers at ChristmasWatch the conductor!Oh Come All Ye FaithfulJoyful and Triumphant

(click on any photograph to view it enlarged)

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