Friday 15 July, 2011

viviennewintherVivienne Winther is Artistic Director of Music For Everyone, the ACTʼs community music organisation . In November 2005, Vivienne was named 'The Canberra Times Artist of the Year', for her uncompromising vision and achievement in gaining national and international recognition for opera in the ACT. Vivienne will be blogging for us in the run up to our Music in Communities day in Canberra.

The break between Terms 2 and 3 is meant to be pretty quiet here at Music For Everyone (MFE). The only activity on the program is Music Jam, our annual get-together for all the participants in our weekly program of music for people with disabilities, more on that later.

But quiet doesn’t seem to be an optional setting for MFE or the Ainslie Arts Centre, Canberra’s dedicated community music space. We spent the first week of the ACT school holidays recovering from two major MFE events at the end of Term 2 and re-enrolling over 700 people for our Term 3 activities, with the lovely background hum of 50 or so children enrolled in the Young Music Society’s Winter Wonderland music camp. 

musicjam2011-bongoswThe Young Music Society is a great Canberra organisation, based in the Ainslie Arts Centre, that provides all sorts of instruments for a very reasonable rental cost, and also does a massive summer holidays music camp for kids and now a slightly smaller but very popular winter holiday music camp.

MFE’s end of Term 2 events were our Members’ Mid-year Concert and a musical for children from our Act Up Sing Out program. The concert had a North American theme so we heard blues, gospel, jazz plus a bit of Aaron Copland’s yeehawing Hoe-Down from Rodeo, all performed by MFE members playing an assortment of strings, wind, guitar and vocal cords.

musicjam2011-drumlinewAnd then there were the groups of pre-schoolers and primary kids who flocked in to see our Act Up Sing Out musical The Gathering of the Animals. This was a particularly nice occasion, as we were re-staging a children’s musical written for MFE in 1998 by local composer Ian Blake and the then Artistic Co-ordinator of MFE Robyn Mellor. It is so nice to see a work like this brought to life for a second time by a new creative team and a new bunch of children. And strangely its environmental theme seemed even more relevant today as we move towards carbon-pricing….the kids in the cast and audience certainly thought so and expressed quite strong opinions in the Q & A sessions at the end of each show!

musicjam2011-drumshakerwMusic Jam is now an established annual event that we began in 2009. MFE has 8 groups of adults with a range of disabilities meeting each week for music and drumming activities. It is really enjoyable to bring all these participants, their friends and family plus some newcomers together for a bit of a jam that included drum circles, wheelchair dancing, karaoke and much more. And of course the morning tea afterwards is pretty popular.

musicjam2011-wchairdancewSo the holiday break seems to have disappeared and we are gearing up for the start of Term 3, which kicks off on Monday with the Info Session for the next Act Up Sing Out workshop, another new musical commissioned in 2010 from local composer Michael Sollis and writer/actor Cathy Petocz on that perennially popular topic with kids, DINOSAURS! Plus we’ll slip back into the rhythm of the 150 hours or so of other music activities on the schedule each week.