Where would you have found 80 excited singers, a cheery conductor, an audience of 300, a bunch of friendly politicians (put on the spot with toy trombones), two very accomplished musicians on keyboard, a super-cool bass player, a member of the Dementia Australia Board, a sumptuous morning tea spread thrown in, and all on a chilly Saturday morning?
At the Alchemy Chorus gala concert ‘I Am Here’ held on Saturday 31 August, at the Weston Creek Uniting Church in Canberra.
Alchemy Chorus, Canberra’s dementia-inclusive community choir, founded and conducted by Brian Triglone OAM, sang through a program of popular songs from Broadway, several gospel favourites, and a specially commissioned song
‘I Am Here,’ which gives ‘musical voice to a group wanting neither to be marginalised, nor patronised, but rather to be included and acknowledged’.
Importantly, the chorus sang the songs that they love.
Soloist Colin Gray took the audience to a special place with ‘Somewhere’, Peter Scott was a fine ‘Scottish Soldier’ and the chorus’ bold Gendarmes, led by Bob White and Barrie Virtue, once again delighted with their voices and theatrics.
The chorus was joined by Gordon Ramsay MLA, Minister for Seniors and Veterans, tinkling the ivories and accompanied by advisers Dr Brooke Thomas and Michael White on vocals for ‘Fly Me to The Moon.’
Kerrie Gray spoke on behalf of the carers, describing how finding Alchemy Chorus had been life-saving, as it offered a place without prejudice, a place where she and Colin could just ‘be’ amongst supportive friends who understood what it was like living with dementia. Somewhere that they didn’t need to explain themselves.
The concert was held ahead of Dementia Action Week and was a collaborative venture with photographer Hilary Wardhaugh, who included a sample of her ‘Memories Are Made of This’ exhibition, with 50 framed portraits of choir members, ‘smashing perceptions of dementia’. The collaboration shows a community united in, and through, the joy of singing. All funds raised by the sales of prints are being donated to Dementia Australia.
At the fundraising event, with entry by donation, a cheque for $3000 (donations from the chorus’ three recent concerts) was presented to Greg Fraser, representing the Dementia Australia Board.
Alchemy Chorus continues to grow - current membership is around 120. The chorus meets weekly, with 80 plus regularly attending on Thursday mornings to sing, laugh, share stories and build friendship and support between members and carers living with early to mid-stage dementia, along with volunteers. Thursdays are mornings of ‘glorious ordinariness’.
Alchemy Chorus would love to see dementia-inclusive choirs in other communities and offers support and suggestions for setting-up and resourcing.
For more details of Alchemy Chorus and concert programs visit: