There is only one way to experience a gospel choir and that is live. This November, the magnificent Sacred Heart Cathedral will host the Melbourne Singers of Gospel as part of the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival. Directed by Dr Darren Wicks and inspired by the energy, rhythms and harmonies of the large gospel choirs, the soulful voices of Melbourne Singers of Gospel is guaranteed to move you, put a smile on your face and lift your spirit. We chat to Darren ahead of the festival performance.
Hi thanks so much for chatting to Forte. First up, can you tell us a bit about Melbourne Singers of Gospel?
Thank you for asking! We’ve been around for a while now forming in 2001 in South Melbourne. We are 100 voices from diverse backgrounds who are passionate about performance and bringing joy to our audiences. It was my privilege to join the choir back in 2008 – yes, it’s my tenth year – and I’ve made it my mission to educate choir members in vocal technique as well as seek out uplifting songs across a range of genres and apply our unique gospel vocal styling to them.
It’s exciting to see Melbourne Singers of Gospel on the line up for the Bendigo Blues & roots Music Festival 2018. Have you ever performed or attended this festival before?
We’re excited to say this will be our first year, but the choir did form to sing at the Bendigo Gospel Festival many years ago and we’ve appeared at Queenscliff Music Festival, Port Fairy Winter Weekends, Brunswick Music Festival and Eltham Jazz.
We understand the MSG attracts 100 singers from across metropolitan Melbourne – what can people expect from the upcoming performance at the festival?
Of course, you’ll see this energetic conductor who will get the audience moving as well as diverse and talented singers whose performance will inspire, hard-working soloists and jazzman, Jex Saarelaht, whose piano accompaniment will get us all in the groove. We can’t give away all our secrets. But I can say that we will bring familiar tunes – old gospel favourites and inspirational Broadway music.
You’ll be performing in the stunning Sacred Heart Cathedral – what will this type of venue lend to the sound of the MSG and the experience for punters?
These tall beautiful spaces were built for light and the human voice. A Gothic structure is a wonderful environment for a congregation whose liturgy is rooted in European music and Gregorian chants as the sound carries and reverberates off the stone surfaces.
Outside of the MSG performance, what are you most looking forward to at the festival, or even places to see in Bendigo?
It’s a long time since I’ve seen JoJo Smith – now there’s a performer who has a wealth of cultural knowledge in her head. Mostly, members will want to kick back – we’re a social bunch – and see what’s on in the evening that we can attend as a group.
Thanks for sharing an insight of the choir with us; why should people come see the choir at the upcoming festival?
It’s our pleasure. People should book as they get two hours of soul, gospel and blues music in an awe-inspiring space. Anyway, there’s only one way to experience a gospel choir and that’s live!
The MSG will perform at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday November 11 as part of The Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival (which runs from November 8 – 11). Visit www.bendigobluesandroots.com.au