Sunday 6 March, 2011

michelleleonard96x144Michelle Leonard, is the founding Artistic Director and conductor of the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus, the Moorambilla Voices Regional Children’s Choirs and Festival Director of the Moorambilla Festival. This is her and our first blog!

Well its Sunday late afternoon - the kids are out playing soccer with Luke and i am going to use this 45 minutes to write my first ever blog!!!

... well in LEC land we have agreed at the Thursday committee meeting last week to pay a project manager for our concerts (on a case by case basis) after 12 years. In the last 5 years at least the role has got really huge, and we are now in the position where we have the skills, the processes and paperwork from previous events to make it smoother and more accountable. And finally (most importantly) we some money in the bank to do this. This has been a GREAT leap forward. The money of course is still an honorarium in reality, but  it is a recognition of the huge time and effort required to keep things looking like the proverbial swan (elegant on the top, paddling furiously underneath!). It certainly allows other committee members to focus on what they do best, support that person without drowning or leaving themselves, and thus the organisation continues to grow and prosper ...well thats the idea anyway. Will let you know how it goes!

With this in mind, and slightly more than 4 weeks out from our Heiligmesse concert on the 10th April I have signed the MOU with our venue St James in town. The orchestra is booked, e-flyer signed off and designed, post concert food and drinks organised, music hire and percussion hire and sourcing done, risers and stands done, hour by hour schedule done for the day of rehearsal and concert day. PHEW! Now just more notes to learn. We now have 100 members in theory on the books doing this concert - our biggest in a LONG time, so keeping the momentum up, the singers focused and happy is a HUGE priority at the moment.

'Espresso news' our  weekly newsletter to members (now number 180 something!) is starting to work better as a communication tool - as is the website for learning aids etc, and the 'roll up your sleeves , get yourself over the line whatever way you need to'  culture is starting to kick in with different section leaders offering their houses for sectionals and coffee, cake, champagne (for the Sopranos of course!) and whatever else to make sure they sound the best when we are together. Love it! Over time I have worked out that this is one of the ways to make sure the 'newbies' have a good time, the culture is maintained, and that the final result is simply the best we can do. The trick for the Committee now is to help keep the balance, so people know that they must bring an audience to sing to (funny how that slips of the radar often!). And they must learn the dots and everyone must realise we ALWAYS need volunteer help at every point - even though we now have an honorarium paid co-ordinator! Every concert is a risk, artistically and financially. Sometimes I think community organisations are actually masquerading as poker players ...still on we play. I feel VERY blessed to have the committee I do. They really are extraordinary glass-half-full people.

Moorambilla land - Well, for Moorambilla voices we start our workshop audition tour schedule on the 27th. To select the ones we will offer places for for this years camps and performances in April/September I will see 2,500 kids in 90 workshops over 10 days in 55 schools (OMG did i just calmly write that?). That's about 180 kids over the two regional primary school choirs including 'MAXed OUT' our high school youth ensemble. This tour in essence really was locked-in in December so that we would be first on the  school calender for 2011. So now its follow-up: ring, email, ring and reminder time and 'tucking in all the edges'. Will let you know more as Stephanie Hutchins (my new Project manager) and i hit the road. I will try to blog from Bourke and Baradine just for the alliteration opportunity! I can't wait to get out home and into the long stretches of country road and meet some of the hilarious characters along the way - love it!

On another Moorambilla note: It looks like Coonamble council are well over the line for a three year relationship with the Moorambilla festival (now in its 6th year!) The tourism development officer and new general manager have been outstandingly positve about the opportunities the festival brings into the community. This has been a HUGE cultural shift, and it really looks like we will have a vibrant and meaningful relationship with them and Outback Arts this year and into the next two. We'll really see if we can create some wonderful cultural infrastructure. Exciting times indeed! With this now happening I can focus on the postcard, flyer and briefs for all of those involved - as well as some more music! Looks like the Moorambilla website is up but there's tweaking still to do on the back end and information updates to do before we officially go live in April. Does it ever EVER end? So now I need this week to finalise my workshop presenters for the festival. I still need someone who would love to do a ethic dance workshop and some sort of Gospel or interesting vocal music workshop. Was also thinking about something body percussion related - Keith Terry style.  I still have gaps for 2011 although we have Taikoz, and some hilarious opera, jazz and Armenian music to name a few. Regional artists as presenters are starting to come together again too. A real joy for me to see this grow actually. One of the reasons i keep going i suspect.

Anyway ...anyone out there got some FABULOUS workshop presenters they could recommend for Moorambilla festival 2011 let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Think thats it for my 45 minutes of kid free time (and first ever blog) Will let you know how I go at the end of week. Better  go now and send an email to the Moorambilla composers with the SYO orchestra breakdown for their commissions. Its nice to have Sydney Brass in there this year. How lucky are those young players?