From the very beginning of Voices of Birralee, the organisation has been very family focused. We thought we’d dedicate this blog to the families who have been involved in Birralee over the years, whether that be siblings singing across ensembles, or parents helping out behind the scenes, involved as musicians, or joining their children on tours.
As we get closer to the end of the year we look forward to Birralee singing at QPAC’s 30th Anniversary Spirit of Christmas concert. To mark the occasion, we asked a few of our current Birralee members’ parents to sing with their children at this celebration.
One of these musical parents is Anne O’Regan who will sing with her children, Daniel (Resonance of Birralee) and Bridie (Brisbane Birralee Voices).
And because we often hear from our choristers on their experience with Birralee, we thought, for a change, we’d hear from one of the parents!
What is your family’s history with Voices of Birralee?
Dan joined the Birralee Blokes when he was 14 (2003) and Bridie joined Piccolos when she was five (2004). Both of them have been members of Birralee’s choirs ever since.
Tell us about your musical history? I am a primary classroom music teacher for DETE and I graduated from the Conservatorium of Music in 1977. I studied piano while at school and joined the school choir in high school. I conduct a year 1-2 choir at my school and coordinate the instrumental and choral program.
What has been a highlight since your family has been involved with Voices of Birralee? I’ll never forget a concert at the Wesley Hospital when the Piccolos and the Blokes performed ‘Rubber Duckie’ together. Bridie and Dan were completely enraptured with each other whilst they were singing. The same piece was performed at the 10th anniversary concert- a very special memory for me.
Another highlight was being in the audience in Sydney when the Blokes won Australian Choir of the Year and Listeners’ award- we were all so excited and proud.
Finally, another great experience was the European tour in 2014 with Birralee Voices, which also marked my first overseas trip. We had the most wonderful time listening to beautiful music performed in stunning venues in Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic. And all the concerts, so moving, with such energised music sung by my beautiful children.
How has Birralee evolved during this time? Birralee has grown and grown since 2003. Resonance was formed after the 10th Anniversary concert and Dan is now a member. At the recent 20th anniversary concert, there were over 400 performers on stage!
How has your family benefitted from the Birralee experience? My two children have benefited enormously from their involvement with Birralee. Not only have they grown musically but their self confidence, self expression, resilience, compassion and understanding of different cultures have been greatly boosted. Many of Dan’s friends come from the choir and they have provided a safe place for him to develop his personality. I credit Birralee with helping him develop into the fine young man he has become. Bridie has always loved her involvement with Birralee and very proudly wears her 10 year award. She loves to sing and is a confident, expressive performer.
What do you think your family’s future is with Birralee? I’m hoping that my children will just continue with Birralee for a very long time to come. Maybe they can both sing in Resonance together when Bridie finishes school?
Why did you decide to sing with your children at the Spirit of Christmas concert? I have long wanted to join a choir. Singing at ‘Spirit of Christmas’ gives me a chance to do this and to share that joy with my children. Can’t wait!
Another family that has relished their time with Birralee, is the Stemp Yacoubi family, with Yazmin in Resonance of Birralee, with Safia in Voices and Lindy, our Wednesday rehearsal manager. Yazmin shares her thoughts below:
What has been your highlight of sharing the Birralee experience with your family?
Throughout our five short years with Birralee, as a family we have been given the opportunity to participate in many unique and unbelievable experiences. A highlight was the 2014 Europe trip. Mum, Safia and I all went and had a marvellous time together, which we will never forget.
The first few nights of the tour everyone was billeted. Saf and I were lucky enough to be billeted in the same street (less than 50m from one another) with families who were good friends.
They were some of the loveliest families we’d ever met. On our second day in Europe they took us up the mountain to play in the snow, REAL SNOW, before rehearsal. While we were up there we ran into our mum who had come up with a group of other shadowing parents (not knowing we were there too!). It was an amazing morning, finding each other on top of the mountain in a different country whilst all staying at different places.
Like the O’Regan and Stemp Yacoubi families, there are so many families involved with Birralee, that we’d like to point out a few here. If we’ve missed you – sorry! Please let us know and we’ll add you to the list!
- Anderson (Matthew is in Resonance of Birralee, Nick in BBV and Jacob is in Birralee Singers)
- Backstrom (Elliott is in BBV, Louis is in Birralee Blokes and Izzy is in Alumni with their mum Lynne as one of our musical parents who plays for us – cello at our 20th anniversary)
- Bailey (Eleanor and Tobias both sing together in Birralee Piccolos. Their mum, Shona, is also the Wednesday Piccolos manager)
- Christiansen (Julie, our founder and artistic director and conductor of BBV and Birralee Singers. Richard is integral to our success, with their daughter Sally, in Birralee Alumni and grandson Jordan is a Birralee Kid)
- Cobb (Aidan is Blokes, and his sister Alex is a past member and their dad Darren is our secretary on the Birralee executive committee)
- Dekker (Evelyn is in Birralee Singers and Jonathan is in the Blokes)
- Elvery (Tara sings in BBV, with siblings Lauren and Daniel former members. They have musical parents, Julie and Malcolm, who also played as part of our 20th orchestra)
- Farrell (Amirah is in Resonance but is currently overseas studying and returning next year. Her dad Matthew is a very talented cellist who is a regular musician for Birralee concerts and mum Fiona Marshall – until recently – was a committee member for our Public Trust Fund committee)
- Flottman (Chris and Carl sing in BBV and their mum Jenny is a talented oboist and their dad, Neil, a well known conductor)
- Forbes (Shelby and Lily sing in BBV, Tony and Michelle are the managers for BBV – Tony is also very clever with video and audio recording and photography so has been able to capture many memories for us over their time in Birralee)
- Gaffney (Lennox and Mia sing in BBV and Peta is our finance manager)
- Graf (Adiya and Jesse sing in BBV and Harper sings in Birralee Singers)
- Guilfoyle (five children in Birralee – what a logistic that must be – Lachlan in Blokes, Abbey in BBV, Sean in Singers, Lily in Kids and Ella in Piccolos – Abbey is also music assistant for Birralee Singers)
- Hargreaves (twin boys – Nicholas and Cody in Birralee Singers and Jemma in BBV)
- Holley (Kate in Resonance of Birralee and musical assistant for Singers, Tess in BBV, Paul is our assistant director and conductor of Resonance and Blokes, with Sue the manager for Resonance)
- Ingram (Meg sings in Resonance of Birralee, Tilly in BBV, Peter regularly MCs Birralee events, while being a committee member on the Harley Mead Legacy Committee. Mum, Anne will sing at QPAC’s Spirit of Christmas concert)
- Kinmont (Sarah is a former member of BBV and her parents Delia and Matthew are talented musicians and were part of our anniversary concert)
- Leader (Tessie sings with Birralee Kids with Kate in Birralee Singers – their brother James was in Singers and we hope their youngest, Lucy will become a Piccolo in a couple of years)
- Lupton (Caitlin is a Birralee Singer, with Zalira in Birralee Kids. Michelle is our manager for Wednesday Kids)
- Lynch (Libby and Arcadia sing in BBV and Jonathan sings with Birralee Singers)
- Masel (Sebastien and Francesca are in BBV, with Evangeline in Birralee Singers. Their sibling Phoebe is in Birralee Alumni and played violin at the 20th Anniversary Concert)
- Messenger (Andrew in Resonance and Ben is an Alumni, with their parents Andrea and Bevan both talented musicians and played as part of our 20th anniversary and play at other concerts when we need violin and trombone – Andrea runs Western Suburbs String Orchestra (WSSO) at Birralee on a Saturday)
- Millar (Rebekah sings with Birralee Kids, Sophie, with Singers and Lucy is in BBV)
- Nolan (Liam currently sings in Resonance, Cara is in Alumni, Judy is our Resonance librarian and her and her husband Patrick (Paddy) played in our 20th Anniversary concert – Paddy has been a regular musician at many Birralee concerts)
- O’Regan (Daniel is in Resonance and Bridie in BBV, mum Anne is singing at Spirit of Christmas and their dad Phil is a wonderful volunteer who helps with odd jobs at Birralee)
- Peake (Olivier or Oli as he is better known is a Bloke and his brother is in Birralee Alumni. Their dad Stephen is our treasurer for Birralee’s executive committee)
- Perrett (Elise is in Resonance with her brother Jonathan in Birralee Alumni. Their dad Ross is a new member for our Public Trust Fund Committee)
- Preston-Stewart (Gabriel sings with Birralee Piccolos, Genevieve in Kids, William in Singers and Claire is a conductor for Wednesday Pics and Kids)
- Stemp Yacoubi (Yazi is in Resonance of Birralee and Safi in BBV and Linda Stemp is our Wednesday rehearsal manager)
- Suschinsky (Phil currently sings in both Blokes and Resonance, while dad Dominik is one of our most integral volunteers who manages the Birralee Blokes, helps transport risers every year for our end of year concerts and helps at the Queensland Youth Music Awards)
- Van Bruggen (Kate sings in BBV with Jenny Moon our assistant conductor for BBV and Dirk who is fabulous at IT installed our Apple system)
- Wilcox (Tom sings in Resonance and Blokes, while mum, Alison is the Blokes’ librarian and sister Megan who hasn’t ever been in Birralee helps at concerts and this year was fabulous at helping at the Queensland Youth Music Awards as part of her school community service)
- Woolrych (Jack sings in Blokes and Lauren in BBV and their dad’s printing business sponsored the Harley Mead books which is part of the Harley Mead legacy)
If you have any family pics from your time with Birralee, make sure you send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for future blogs!