National conductor leads choir workshops

Sought after choral conductor Michelle Leonard OAM inspires local kids

Michelle Leonard OAM with Norville State School students for a choir workshop
Michelle Leonard OAM warming up the vocal cords of Norville State School choir students.

Bundaberg students participated in a choir workshop through the nationally-awarded Moorambilla Voices program under the artistic direction of one of Australia’s most sought after choral conductors and program founder Michelle Leonard OAM.

Michelle visited the Bundaberg Region to help co-ordinate a workshop with over 300 local children to establish a treble choir for the inaugural Milbi Festival later this year.

“It’s been my absolute pleasure to be invited to be artistic director of the gala opening concert of the inaugural Milbi Festival,” Michelle said.

“In the process of making this happen, I was here last year and this year; with the support of Council we have established a workshop week, we will be seeing over 300 children to establish a treble choir and I will have had the joy of seeing a whole lot of primary and high school children in 13 workshops.”

Michelle said the choir workshop was designed to ensure the students learnt about repertoire that had been specifically created for them.

“Part of our hope for this particular performance is that we showcase nationally what the capacity of this region has artistically, not only chorally but also visually and in dance and eventually to really celebrate the rich cultural legacy of this region.”

Choir workshop based on nationally awarded program

Moorambilla Voices is a nationally-awarded program that seeks to give country kids a rare opportunity to sing, dance and create incredible performances with artists of the highest calibre.

Michelle said the friendships the children made during the choir workshops were life-changing beyond the performances themselves.

Norville State School Year 6 student Jessie Haywood said she was excited to be involved in the choir workshop, and had always had a passion for singing at home.

“It feels amazing and to sing there and go to all the different places with the choir is amazing,” Jessie said.

Jessie said she had learnt a lot from Michelle during the workshops and it was an experience she would not forget.

“We had Michelle and she was teaching us these new songs and making us experience how to sing and it was just great because she really influenced us to sing as amazingly as we could,” Jessie said.

Michelle is widely sought after as a choral clinician on Australian repertoire and appears regularly as a guest speaker, adjudicator and workshop facilitator. Michelle was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for Services to the Community and Performing Arts in 2017.

Milbi Festival is designed to mark the beginning of the turtle season and to celebrate the unique identity, spirit and livability of the Bundaberg Region.

The inaugural Milbi Festival will run from 15-24 November this year.

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