School of Hard Knocks choir and Concento unite in song

Members of the School of Hard Knocks Absolutely Everybody choir.

Members of the School of Hard Knocks Absolutely Everybody choir.

The School of Hard Knocks Port Macquarie-Hastings’ choir, Absolutely Everybody, will celebrate its first birthday on Saturday, April 1 with the Concento concert band.

The performance will be held at the Uniting Church, Port Macquarie at 3pm.

The Port Macquarie Absolutely Everybody choir was formed in March 2016 in response to the work done by Dr Jonathon Welch in Melbourne with his Choir of Hard Knocks.

The choir was the initiative of Port Macquarie Community College. They saw the opportunity the choir gives to provide a place of support, community and learning for people who were marginalised or disadvantaged.

The group is open to anyone who fits that very broad definition (hence the name) and is supported by a dynamic group of volunteers who act as buddies and prepare lunch each week.

The Absolutely Everybody choir is made up of over forty members and volunteers.

They rehearse once a week during term time with the musical leadership team of Marie van Gend, Ruth Allan and Miriam Lattimore. It is a choir, not a sing along group, and the goal of the group is to make the best music they possibly can.

The benefits that have come from the first year of this project have been monitored by the choir manager, Katrina Humble. They include a much improved sense of belonging, lower levels of medication and hospitalisation for those with mental health challenges, improved physical stamina and improved well-being.

People recovering from strokes have found that singing has helped them with their speech and confidence.

Members of the choir have opportunities for further learning in areas such as literacy, numeracy, computer and creative skills through the School of Hard Knocks program run by Skillslink Training at Port Macquarie Community College.

The first birthday concert on April 1 is a joint performance with the Concento concert band. Concento is led by well-known local musician and conductor, Glenn Moore. The band is part of the Conservatorium Mid North Coast ensemble program and its name means harmony and concord.

The concert is a fundraiser for Absolutely Everybody choir and tickets are $10pp available at the door. Doors will open at 2.30pm. There will be an afternoon tea following the concert.​

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