Music makers enjoy sweet sounds of success
PhD candidate and sessional academic, Alison Blane, arrived in Perth from the UK three years ago, and promptly joined Rhythmos, Curtin’s award-winning choir, after watching them perform at O Week. Currently juggling her PhD and sessional academic work, she finds the collegiate aspect of the choir a welcome counterbalance to the demands of academic life.
I’ve always loved music, particularly acapella singing (close harmony singing with no accompaniment – think the film Pitch Perfect). I’d seen my friend perform with several of Oxford University’s acapella choirs whilst at home in England and I thought, ‘I’d love to do that’.
When I moved to Perth from the UK to start a PhD, I came across Rhythmos performing at O Week and I booked myself in to audition. I’d previously sung in school choirs, but had never auditioned for anything like this before. I was so scared, I nearly turned around and walked away. However, after a phone-based pep talk from my partner, Patrick, who I had driven mad by singing show tunes on repeat, I decided that I had nothing to lose and walked through the doors. I’ve never looked back.
Three days later, I received the confirmation that I’d been accepted into the soprano section of the choir and, 18 months on, I’m still singing with them and having the most wonderful time. Although it is an auditioning choir, there are a range of people, including those who are born to perform, and who wouldn’t be out of place on Broadway, and people like me who sing for fun. It’s okay because we are all expertly directed by Curtin Senior Lecturer and Choirmaster supreme, Dr Jonathan Paxman.
The choir sings a variety of styles – choral, classical, pop, contemporary and musical theatre – the majority of which we sing with voice alone, that is, without accompaniment. The highlight of last year’s repertoire (apart from this Brit doing as we all should when in Australia – learning ‘Waltzing Matilda’) was singing Eric Whitacre’s ‘Sleep’, which is one of the most difficult but beautiful choral pieces I’ve ever heard.
We perform around the campus as well as for external concerts. Most recently Rhythmos performed as part of the Assemblage exhibition at the Curtin Gallery, and last year we performed with other choirs as part of the Singing in the City concert.
Alongside the singing, I love the familial atmosphere of the choir. Everyone is so welcoming. I’ve met some fantastic people and made some great new friends, many of whom I probably would not have otherwise met. It’s also given me a something completely different to look forward to once a week, which helps me maintain a nice work-life balance whilst completing my PhD.