Can you imagine being 8 and speaking or singing on the stage of the Perth Arena in front of 12,500 people? This is just one of the amazing opportunities offered by the One Big Voice festival which is open each year to choir members from grades 3-6 from all schools. The same set of songs and choreography
(movements) are taught at each participating school and then on the one day, for just one practice and one performance, they all come together in a non-competitive environment to form Australia’s largest children’s choir.
On 18 August, 80 school choirs came together at the Perth Arena for a phenomenon only fully comprehended by being there. It is a challenge to describe the beautiful harmony the mass of 4,000 smiling singers produced, the visual effect of so many children moving as one like a massive Mexican wave and the
sound created by the thousands of clicking fingers for Rain Song. The lyrics of the songs on the program contained uplifting messages of peace, joy and love and you could feel these emotions radiating from the sea of children. The result of all of this was magic — the Arena was filled with the passion of the
combined choir members which, at times, is so overwhelming that many in the audience were in tears.
Donna Marwick-O’Brien is One Big Voice’s co-chair and musical director and has written and arranged songs for the festival. She said of its mission, “We want as many children as possible singing life affirming, positive songs.” The aim is to build musical confidence in teachers and bring the pure joy of singing
and music to their students. Coached by choir teacher Debra Whitely, Bindoon Primary School participated for its second year and had 40 students in the
group. Debra was also a conductor and part of the teacher vocal group that performed on stage at the event. Three of her students also had roles on stage. Zane Houston (grade 6) was chosen as a compere to introduce Robbie William’s song I Love My Life and Tarni Bin Omar (grade 6) and Tanika Kirchner (grade
4) were paired for the vocal group for High School Musical’s We’re All In this Together.
Zane said “I’m so grateful that my teacher Mrs Whitely coached me. After I spoke I was happy and eager to get back to my spot on the floor to sing because I love the song. The songs chosen for the festival were brilliant, absolutely beautiful”. Tarni, who would like to do musical theatre or similar when she is older, commented that “It was fun to sing in front of such a big audience. Singing makes me feel happy”.
For grade 6 choir members Ellie Bolt and Tahnaya Goodall, also pictured, it was their first time participating in the One Big Voice. Ellie said “It was scary, really scary. My favourite song was Rain Song because you can hear the sounds echoing around you”. Tahnaya also felt nervous but said “It was awesome and fun. Music always makes us happy”.
One Big Voice is a truly unforgettable experience of a lifetime for everyone involved and reminds us that anything is possible with the power of song. Keep an eye out for the Bindoon Primary School choir performing some of the One Big Voice songs at this year’s Bindoon and Districts Agricultural Show on 14 October