Sydney Sings’ Littlest Adventurer
January 8, 2014
From the steps of the Pitt Street Uniting Church to the banks of the Ganges, little Holly has big dreams to share the joy of song.
Julie and David and their 10-year-old daughter Holly are mainstays of New South Wales’ flagship With One Voice choir, which rehearses weekly in the Sydney CBD.
“It was wild!” Julie said of the first Sydney Sings rehearsal her family attended.
“Choirs are often sensible and straight… but this was vivacious and inspiring! We just let rip!” she said.
“My husband hadn’t done anything musical in his entire life… but he loved it. Holly said: “Wow! We’ve got to stay, Mum. This is great!” So we did.”
Sydney Sings embraces a wealth of colourful characters, from people living on the streets to people who are running corporations.
“Liz (the vibrant conductor) has a holistic approach that gets you to step out of your head and into a community,” Julie said.
“It’s not just warming the voice up… it’s warming up the whole body and mind.
“It’s a whole new world for Holly. A brilliant world. For her, this has been a real learning exercise… understanding that we’re not all the same; understanding that there are people who have great qualities, and they may not have a home; and understanding homeless doesn’t just mean “on the street”.
“Holly’s education there has been huge. And she’s taken that to school, talking to children about her wonderful choir.”
At our 2013 With One BIG Voice concert, Holly led Sydney Sings with a solo of John Lennon’s Imagine and Julian Lennon’s Saltwater in front of an audience of 2,000 people at the Melbourne Town Hall.
As if this wasn’t exciting enough for a 10-year-old, Holly soon got to share this song much further afield.
Julie and David make regular trips to India to support street kids at the Kolkata Hope Foundation, with Holly enthusiastically in tow.
On a recent trip, serendipity led to Holly helping to launch Brett Lee’s Mewsic Foundation (which teaches music to children in the slums of New Delhi) and being invited to sing on the bank of the Ganges, at the opening of a United Nations conference promoting clean water.
When asked what she would sing, Holly responded with: “I have a song, all the way from our choir to the Ganges, and it’s perfect for you!”
A speech following Holly’s performance of Imagine and Saltwater reminded the crowd of the Beatles’ performance, in that very same spot, back in the 1960s. Little did they know a 10-year-old girl would be sharing their music, and their message, many years later.
This amazing trip was rounded out by a joyful performance at the Hope Foundation, where Holly sang and danced alongside a group of very young children, who had only recently been saved from the streets, in front of an audience of 6,000 more street kids.
Like Creativity Australia’s Founder Tania de Jong AM, Holly is getting early, first-hand experience of how the joy of song can delight and empower diverse people.
“Holly’s experiences in India, and with Sydney Sings, are teaching her to be one… and not be an “I” centred singer, be to be a “we” centred singer,” Julie said.
“She’s learning that she is not better or less that anyone. But she could be that child living on the streets. We could all be that child.
“We are very dedicated to making the difference we can make… both overseas and in our own city. So thank God we’re with Sydney Sings.
“It’s the only thing, in this type of arena, that we’ve ever done as a family,” Julie said.
“We’ll never forget it as long as we live, because we’ll always have that memory of us all being in this special choir,” she said.
“We often wake up in the middle of the night with the songs in our heads. And that’s Holly’s world, so we really relate to her now.
“I wish for everyone that Sydney Sings stays as fresh and alive as it is, and continues to grow.”
The success of the With One Voice program is in the diversity of its participants, with those who can afford to donate subsidising those in need.
To keep our programs alive and open to all, the Creativity Australia charity needs to keep securing new participants and supporters. How to help.
In 2014, we will launch new With One Voice choirs in Redfern, Brisbane and beyond. Join the singing movement!
WATCH THE TRAILER of a Sydney Sings documentary being made by conductor Liz Lecoanet’s wonderful husband Albert.
WATCH TANIA DE JONG AM’S RECENT TEDtalk: How singing together changes the brain.
WATCH OUR “I WISH” VIDEO. Through the Wish List, participants grant one another wishes big and small, such as English lessons, music lesson, CV-writing and music tuition.