Founded in Canberra Australia in 2016 by Brian Triglone, inspired by the Giving Voice Chorus in Minnesota, Alchemy Chorus now bursts at the seams on Thursdays, with up to 90 participants who swing through a variety of well-known songs from Doris Day classics to The Seekers and The Beatles. While the effect which music can have on the brain, especially for those with dementia, is well publicized, one of the important flow-on effects of the chorus is the opportunity it affords the carers of those living with dementia to interact with other carers and importantly, to share an activity with their partner. Thursday brings a morning of ‘glorious ordinariness’ as everyone is encouraged to ‘let it go‘.
Every voice is important to Alchemy Chorus. Some voices are golden from a lifetime of singing, some are revived after a recess, others are new to singing in a choir. Solos and duets can happen spontaneously. For some, particularly the participants with more advanced dementia, the morning is an opportunity to let the music wash over. And everybody shares a love of music.
Click here to play an excerpt from story about the choir on the ABC’s Australia Wide program in 2017.
Video thanks to ABC
Alchemy Chorus is not just a community sing-along group. It is a working choir and in its 18 months of music-making has performed at events at the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum, the Botanic Gardens and at Wesley’s Wednesday Lunchtime concert series (joining with The Gospel Folk) and more performances are planned for 2018. At the end of each term the choir conducts a small concert where anyone who feels inclined can come forward and perform. To encourage performance standards Brian gently and good-humouredly works on the musical skills of phrasing, articulation, movement and simple harmonies. We have a very talented band with Chris Hopman on double bass and Brendan O’Loghlin on keyboard, flute, guitar, mandolin (almost anything really) with Brian occasionally on guitar.
Brian Triglone. Brian has been a tireless volunteer leader of many community causes through his love of music: individually, as a member of a group and as a leader and conductor of community-based choirs, including The Treble Folk, Betty and Brian folk duo, the Rugby Choir, The Gospel Folk and Credo. He is the founder and conductor of Alchemy Chorus.
Brendan O’Loghlin AO. After an early career as an RAAF pilot, Brendan moved into international relations and strategic policy. He served in Malaysia, Singapore, UK and USA, enjoying various musical activities in the local communities. He sings with The Oriana Chorale and plays with Los Amigos del Tango.
Chris Hopman. Clean Living Chris, the Sri Lanka Connexion, from Colombo to Canberra
Thursdays with Alchemy Chorus are not just about voices and music. They are a time for sharing and swapping stories and laughter and celebrating birthdays. Each week there is a member spotlight session when a life-story is told. There have been stories from and about scientists, business people, teachers, accountants, public servants, taxi drivers, artists, military personnel, diplomats and the ongoing work of carers is ever-present and affirmed.
If you know of someone living with dementia who loves singing or if you are a carer who loves to sing or wants to sing, then Thursdays with Alchemy Chorus might just be the opportunity to ‘’let it go’’.
Alchemy Chorus meets every Thursday in school terms from 10.00 to 12.00 at the Council on the Ageing hall at Hughes Community Centre, 2 Wisdom St, Hughes.
The charge is $5 per person. Please note that all those with dementia are required to have a carer with them at all times.
Alchemy Chorus is a not for profit incorporated association run entirely by volunteers. All volunteers have a Working with Vulnerable People certificate.