In moving forward to the new age and developing the talent of local musicians, Royal South Street Society are celebrating 125 years as an organisation by introducing a brand new initiative – Mi Sound.
For those that haven’t heard of them, RSSS have been a leader in promoting, fostering and encouraging participation in the arts through a variety of different mediums. Covering the disciplines of voice, music and movement, including calisthenics and dance. As Australia’s oldest and longest running eisteddfod, RSSS has seen the likes of Dame Nellie Melba, Joan Kirner and Anthony Callea pass through its doors over the years, just to name a few. Through the support of the Ballarat community and the likes of some 240 volunteers, the program contributes over $14 million dollars a year to the local economy.
To be held in the first week of September, Mi Sound is a competition which follows the mission statement and values of the organisation by giving local performers a helping hand in developing their musical capabilities through performance. Pronounced as My Sound, this new initiative draws away from the regular events and competitions that Royal South Street runs and aims to focus on the technical mastery of instrument and musicianship. Forte Magazine recently got the opportunity to sit down with event producer Sheree Chevalier to find out all about it.
“It’s very exciting for us to have launched this competition because it moves us into something that we haven’t really done before. The competition on the Monday and Tuesday night is going to be held between 6pm to 9pm and there is a stack of great artists involved. A lot of people might have a concept that this is like a battle of the bands, however it is really just about giving young people the opportunity to perform and get the stage experience that they may not get elsewhere,” Chevalier says.
The prizes on offer for this competition are quite surreal. I know that if I was an up and coming performer with the prospect of jumping up on stage in front of a live studio audience with the possibility of winning a full days recording at Salt Studios in East Brighton, I’d be jumping the gun to write my name down. Alongside recording time, there are numerous cash prizes based on a variety of criteria, including how you present yourself on stage as well as song choice and audience interaction. Unfortunately, if you are just reading this now entries have closed. However, you should definitely mark this one in the calendar because you never know who you might discover from this event. Remember, Lisa Mitchell and Matt Corby were both unearthed through talent competitions.
In addition to the regular judges vote, Mi Sound is breaking new ground by conducting the audience vote (another standard procedure) through an online Twitter vote. Using a relevant hashtag, Chevalier believes it will help with energy of the event. “It’s a new thing that we are implementing with the event and I think it’s going to work really well. At most of these events, it is usually up to the loudest cheer or hands up, yet moving with the times, the twitter vote is going to be open up to ten minutes after the performances have finished and there will be a paper vote as well for those that are unfamiliar with it. It’s going to bring a new found energy to the show and engage the audience even more to get behind their favourite performer.”
The prizes of Mi Sound are huge, yet there are other fantastic elements to Ballarat’s new hip event as well. Edmondo Ammendola, Brent Trotter and Tim Hulsman are the three judges for this year’s competition and Chevalier is excited to have them on side. “I think that between the three of them, there are various common elements to their experience as musicians, as well as differences that work as a strength. Edmondo is a founding member of Augie March and has worked in arranging and recording. Brent has a theatrical background and has toured overseas to the US, China and New Zealand and Tim has toured Australia and will launch his new album later this year. There is an energy between all three that just works.”
The idea for this competition was devised through a lack of exposure for VCE music students to get out into the industry and perform. The venue for the event is The Miners Tavern, a legendary venue in the Ballarat scene that will allow the performers to adapt to their strengths. “One of the main focusses is for the performers to explain the situation in which their set of music is going to take place. For example, it might be a wedding band gig and the repertoire and stagecraft reflects that. The scope is quite broad yet I think that it lends itself to a lot of different and unique experiences for both the contestants as well as the audience.”
One of the main drawcards to be involved with this event next year is the Music Industry Day held by Oxygen College in Geelong. Over the course of the day, every participant will get the opportunity to find out how to get their foot in the door, as well as an in-depth look at their chosen area of expertise. It’s all going to be going down from the 5th to 8th of September at The Miner’s Tavern, so head out to discover some of the next generation of Aussie talents. “It’s also very exciting to have the VCE Technical production students on board with the sound and lighting, so everyone should come down and support your friends and family for a great couple of nights of fun.”
Written by Tex Miller
Photo by UP Creative
Performances will be for up to 20 minutes each at the Miners Tavern, in Ballarat from September 5th – 8th