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Choir in a carpark  

Italy had its balcony operas and now Australia has its choir in a carpark – singing continues to signal our determination to persevere in tricky times.

The quick and clever thinkers from Hummingsong Choirs, a collection of Women’s Choirs primarily from the Northern Beaches and North Shore, recently thought to approach Balgowlah’s Harvey Norman store and ask if they could use their enormous carpark after hours for COVID-safe rehearsal. This particular group of about 50 women are from Manly Vale’s Iluka Women’s A Capella group and have been unable to practise for 10 months because of indoor singing restrictions.

But Harvey has an enviably large parking area, considered to be an outdoor space but still under cover, and a perfect space to sing safely each Tuesday night. So they thought they’d ask…

They said yes!

The Iluka choir during their second rehearsal evening in a Harvey Norman carpark. Credit: Kim Smee

In these hyper-cautious time it’s not always easy to say yes to something that represents further bureaucratic demands. That’s why we are so impressed Harvey Norman said yes.

And we are particularly impressed that the staff are staying back after work to keep the place open, the toilets accessible and the lights on, so the women can practise in comfort every Tuesday evening.

Harvey Norman bedding proprietor Paul Chapman was the first who stayed back late. They had their first session last week, which he captured:

Earlier this morning, we bought a blender then trotted around store on the hunt for Paul – we found him!

Paul Chapman

Paul was lovely, unsurprisingly.  He explained that when he read the email asking to use the space he was blown away by a YouTube video at the end of their email showing over hundred of the women all singing together. Paul explained that not only were the women supporting eachother, he learned that they used their performances to raise money to support local women and children escaping domestic violence.

“You watch that and see if you have a dry eye by the end of it,” he said.

The group has been super organised with their COVID safety plan and it got all the right ticks of approval from Harvey Norman corporate – they now have eight more weeks of rehearsal space all to themselves.

Choral Master Natasha Cupitt

The Iluka choir’s choral master is Natasha Cupitt, of Balgowlah. Natasha, who is a professional singing coach, said her choir was part of a powerful network of women singers who use their voice to connect and build their confidence.  The choirs many public performances also serve as fundraisers for domestic violence charities and they are hoping to perform in cul-de-sacs and other community spaces soon, she said.

We’ve seen the messages of support on the post on our Facebook page and others and the strong desire to hear it live in action so we filmed a number of live videos on their second rehearsal night on Tuesday, 9 February. These can all be viewed on our social media channels, with most content on our Facebook page.

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