Perth Pride Choir deliver an outstanding show that had a lot to say

The Perth Pride Choir’s end of year concert has grown to become an unmissable event that inevitably sells out two shows at the Dolphin Theatre.

This year’s production This Is Me showed how the choir have grown and further developed their skills under the guide of new musical director Mirelle Hopwood. Joined by regular pianist Sammy McSweeney, the choir added percussion from Julius Rogers, Bass from Shane Pooley, and Sam Parry stepping in on some tracks with flute and oboe.

Each year the choir’s celebration signals the start of the festive season and the winding down of busy lives, and as we return to this event year after year – there is just a joy in seeing the faces of each of the choir members.

This year the performances with punctuated by reflections of the theme of Why We Sing, the Greg Gilpin penned song of the same name was performed near the top of the set. Different members of the choir shared their moving and personal stories about how they came to be part of the choir.

Among them stories of finding friends and a place in the community, discovering confidence, and for many returning to singing after decades of being silent.

The show had many highlights, among them a rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours. It’s a song that has been in the choir’s repertoire for many years, but at their Saturday night concert it was delivered in a style that was crisp, tight and enlivened.

Jodie Krantz performed Trusting Woman, a song she wrote following the loss of her sister to cancer. Jodie shared that this week it would be almost two decades since her sister died. Allanna Treweek performed the delightful It’s Only a Paper Moon, while the full choir delivered A Nightingale in Berkely Square, This is Me and Sing.

The first half of the show came to a climax with Singin’ in the Rain, with the performers sprouting umbrellas and cheekily shooting water pistols into the audience.

The second half of the show opened with Baba Yetu. The song sung in Swahili was an unexpected choice. The theme song for the 2005 computer game Civilization IV, was the first piece of music created for a video game to be nominated for, and to win, a Grammy Award. It was a powerful performance. Fingers crossed that their Swahili repertoire will grow and next year and they’ll do Aie a Mwana.      

The performance of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now was sensational, and choir member Daniel Scarparolo had a moment in the spotlight singing John Denver’s Perhaps Love. 

Choir member Bev Fabb spoke about how her love of singing also aligned with activism and protests. Fabb recounted in her youth she’d often find herself singing classics like We Shall Overcome in moments of protest. Fabb had argued that the presentation needed to include a protest song, and nothing is more relevant today the call for an Indigenous Voice to the Australian parliament.

For a moment I thought we were about to get a choral version of Yothu Yindi’s Treaty (next year hopefully), but the song selected was Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning. The delivery was inspiring. Strong voices, powerful silences. Listening to them sing this call for recognition and action you couldn’t help but think it’s a sign that an understanding of the needs of indigenous people is now so embedded in our society that you could feel confident about a ‘Yes’ result to this important referendum.

Harry Styles Treat People with Kindness is one of those songs that fills you with euphoria, hearing it sung by the choir was like getting an injection of positivity.

The celebration of song came to a close with Defining Gravity from the musical Wicked! While an encore saw colourful feather boas being handed out and the choir launched into ABBA’s Dancing Queen.  They had the whole crowd on their feet.

We’ve called this event one of the highlights of the year, and so it remains. Next year they should book the larger Octagon Theatre!

The Perth Pride Choir is a non-audition choir is open to everyone. Find out more about them at their website.

Graeme Watson

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