Town sings out for choir
ON Tuesday and Thursday nights at Monto State School, you will hear a sound that has not been heard for many years in the town: a choir.
They're doing it for fun, but there's also a reason: country music icon Troy Cassar-Daley, who will be playing in Monto Community Hall on August 22, wanted one for two of his songs.
"We are using (Troy) as a platform,” said Priscilla Catling, the music teacher leading the choir.
Although he is the "catalyst”, according to Mrs Catling's colleague Bronwyn Zimpel, she believes something was building in Mrs Catling regardless.
"Priscilla is the sort of person who says, 'Come on, let's have a go,'” Mrs Zimpel said.
Before the choir, adults in Monto had very limited creative opportunities, she said.
Mrs Zimpel and Mrs Catling have known each other since their early teaching days in Cloncurry.
Mrs Catling convinced Mrs Zimpel to learn the oboe for the Mount Isa Community Ensemble, which was scoring a performance of Les Miserables, and there she saw up close Mrs Catling's ability in supporting others to unlock their creativity.
"Never in my life I thought I'd be playing the oboe,” Mrs Zimpel said.
"And with the choir, I never thought I'd be doing that either.
"That's twice now I've done something I never thought I'd do, thanks to Priscilla.”
Mrs Catling, who is midway through a Bachelor of Music to go with her Bachelor of Education, one day wants to complete her honours and masters in music, and become a music therapist.
That interest in the restorative properties of music is evidenced by her desire for the Monto choir to begin regular performances for the residents of Ridgehaven Retirement Complex.
"Some elderly people aren't speaking and they don't remember, but music triggers something in their mind and the memories start coming back,” Mrs Catling said.
"The soul is not complete without music.”
Mrs Catling currently has 11 choristers, including people travelling from as far afield as Kalpowar, and she would love more for her gospel-style arrangement.
Rehearsals are Tuesday and Thursday nights in the former preschool room at Monto State School, 6.30-7.30pm.
"Everyone is welcome, regardless of ability,” Mrs Zimpel said.
"It's not taxing to rock up and sing along... and be together in music.
"There's no pressure-okay, there's a bit of pressure with Troy, but they (choristers) don't realise they are getting better each week.”
Mrs Catling said the choir already has a good mix of novices and experienced singers, and there is no requirement to be able to read sheet music, because "I didn't want to frighten people off,” she said.
Eventually, she hopes the choir can perform concerts biannually for the town.
'The Monto Singers' have a Facebook group for those interested.
Mrs Catling also has high hopes of reviving the Monto Instrumental Community Ensemble, which still exists, but mainly as a school group.
She said, during its halcyon days, MICE boasted more than 100 performers.
"But I keep telling myself, you don't have to do it all this year, there's always next year,” Mrs Catling said.