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The hills are alive

Conductor Brenda Argaet leads students from 13 schools across the highlands at their group rehearsal.
Conductor Brenda Argaet leads students from 13 schools across the highlands at their group rehearsal.

Students from across the Riverina Highlands performed in the Montreal Community Theatre last Tuesday, in a mass choir that brought together over 200 students from 13 schools.

The children performed a repertoire of nine songs, under the direction of conductors Brenda Argaet, Jo Argaet, Jennifer Lundsen and Anna Dickinson. As well as putting on a great show, the choir provided the children the opportunity to socialise and work together in a large cohort.

“For the small school kids, performing in a mass choir gives them the opportunity to work with more of their peers,” Humula Public School principle Lynne French said. “It’s about giving all the children, regardless of their socioeconomic status, the opportunity to perform. If not for the mass choir, some of these children would never get the chance to perform with live accompaniment.

“There’s been hours and hours of work put into it.”

The students have been rehearsing for the past four months, individually and over video conferencing, before they were all brought together for group rehearsal on the day of the show.

However, music teacher and event co-ordinator Brenda Argaet said all the hard work is worth it.

“Singing is supposed to release endorphins and make them feel happy – so I’m hoping that is happening! Having the opportunity to sing, and sing in a group, is really amazing.”

Proof of the benefits of the event are evident in Brenda’s daughter Jo, who was in Year Three the first time the mass choir was organised. This year she’s gotten on board as a conductor, slotting the event into her first year of teaching at Humula Public School.

“She convinced me to put it on!” Brenda said. “She’s really excited.”

Schools participating in the event were Cabramurra, Talbingo, Rosewood, Tumbarumba, Humula, Adelong, Franklin, Tumut, Gundagai Public, Gundagai South, Nangus, Bongongo and Brungle.

Three of the participating students are also in the Riverina Regional Choir, who performed at the Opera House last week.