The Raymond Island Choir
'The next opportunity to sing in public came with the farewell to the old ferry. It was being towed on the 7th Jan 1997 and replaced by a shiny new model. The wake / celebration held the night before consisted of speeches, 'I remember' stories, a fresh fish barbecue, and the choir was asked to sing. This was an ideal community occasion but singing in the open gave us problems. We learnt, if brutally, that standing close together, and being in touch with our audience, were basic ingredients if music was going to happen.
'On that occasion we managed to focus the latent musical talents of the rest of the population by teaching them a traditional round, with politically inspired modern lyrics, called 'The Ferry'. This reflected nicely an ongoing dispute with the local council over the imposition of a toll on what was generally regarded as a public roadway. The Choir's title 'Unabridged' (proposed by Barbara Clayton) also was living testimony to the basic assertion that the island was just that, an island. Not a piece of convenient real estate available for bridging and mindless suburban development'.
'Community Music Magazine', extract of an article by Mark Brennan
The Choir also performed at the first Paynesville Jazz Festival. They sang from the balcony of the Old Pub but without amplification their sound was too muted for the crowd of supporters below. This disappointment nevertheless helped future appearances.
The East Gippsland Choral Festival was a highlight for the group. The Choir performed twice at this event singing four pieces and finishing with a massed choral item.
They have performed at local events such as a flower show, the choral service at the chapel on the island, and at a local restaurant.
Although the Choir disbanded in 2002 they reformed to sing at the memorial service for Peter Manuell a long time supporter.
Original members of the Choir include Mark Brennan, David Clark, Barb Clayton, Ken Coldwell, Terri Eskdale, James Frecheville, Vicki Harris, Joyce Horn, Peter Manuell, Margaret Marriott, Marg Marriott, Denise Turner and Judy Rennick. However some thirty or so members drove its existence from start to finish.
Compiled by the Raymond Island History Group with the assistance of Mark Brennan. December 2010
For their first appearance the Choir decided to host a Christmas carol service. Don Webster arranged for a group of friends and relatives of professional and international musicians to accompany them. The Choir made its debut attracting around one hundred and thirty people. Many residents of the island remember this as an outstanding success.
Members sourced additional music they thought might be appropriate and a decision was made to use printed music as a main reference for the group. Unlike many other community choirs they attracted nearly as many men as women which gave a rich mix of tones allowing the creation of four part harmonies and arrangements.
The Choir on Raymond Island was formed in 1996. Mark Brennan and Denise Turner were instrumental in helping to guide its beginnings. The first members of the choir met, firstly at members' houses, and later in the Community Hall, choosing as a focus numerous nautical pieces such as 'The Skye Boat Song' and 'What shall we do with the drunken sailor'.