Sun, Jun 14, 2020
Bob Dylan’s hit song The Times They Are A-Changing has become an anthem for a stoic Melbourne choir of community members.
During the coronavirus, there were fears for the 80-strong choir who were unable to come together to sing each week.
“We thought it was the end,” says Isabelle Alexander, who is one of the founders of The People’s Choir.
However, thanks to technology, the choir kept singing through the pandemic via video conferencing and in doing so, has welcomed more than a dozen new members from remote communities across Australia.
“It’s been great for them. Some of them live so far from the nearest town, it’s just not viable to be a part of something like this.”
The People’s Choir started five years ago when Isabelle was contacted by her dear friend, Annabelle Taylor, who was in hospital awaiting a liver transplant.
Coincidently, Annabelle is the sister of Australian musician John Capek, who’s written hits like Rhythm of My Heart with Rod Stewart as well as other hits for Cher, Joe Cocker and Diana Ross.
Annabelle said to Isabelle that if she came out of the operation in good health, she wanted to start a choir. “Out of love and respect, I would have done anything for her. She came out of hospital and we had our first rehearsal,” Isabelle says.
Annabelle was the choir’s original music director and is still a member today. The People’s Choir’s current music director is another well-known musical identity, Bettina Spivakovsky (pictured below).
As the self-isolation restrictions start to ease, the choir is talking about resuming their weekly practise sessions. However due to the popularity of the Zoom sessions, it’s expected they will continue too, to enable their new members to stick with the group.
Isabelle – who is a member of Nextdoor – says the choir’s main aim is to be inclusive.
“We have people who are terminally ill, people who are disabled. We look after each other, we are a community,” Isabelle says.
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