HomeVoices from the Vacant Lot

P.O.Box 3069

Voices from the Vacant Lot

Voices from the Vacant Lot is a 16 voice mixed choir, singing a wide ranging repertoire of songs and choral works in conjunction with percussion and some new versions of ancient musical instruments (thumb piano, folk fiddle from Africa). Voices from the Vacant Lot are at the forefront of a rapidly expanding Australian cultural movement. Rooted in a sense of the importance of a culturally diverse society and the importance of music as a force for the empowerment of all people this movement exists as a rapidly expanding number of choral groups, drumming ensembles and street performers. An extraordinary total of 14 or more vocal, performance and teaching groups have been established in the last 10 years by singers from the ranks of this ensemble. Over the last 19 years Voices have worked together to build a diverse and powerful repertoire sourced from research and interaction with a wide range of musical cultures. Over the past fifteen years members of Voices from the Vacant Lot have been studying choral music from South Africa, Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia, capoeira and samba from Brazil, drumming with African and Cuban musicians, and have shared skills in composition, arrangement, performance and vocal technique, conducting and musicology with each other. They have arranged and performed songs in as many as 20 different languages, always referring pronunciation, and cultural content back to community members here and overseas who speak those languages. Borrowing the term from a Latvian community choir whose work was introduced to Voices by a member of Sydney's Latvian community, Voices describe their work as 'post-traditional'. Traditional in the sense that the work owes much to the traditions of many of the nations inhabiting this country, but largely new in form due to confluence of diverse styles and traditions within the composers and members of this ensemble. The strength of their ensemble vocal work has been fed by this poly-vocal research and a move away from classical western vocal technique. This, coupled with the use of percussion and subtle instrumentation sets Voices apart from a large part of the currency of Australian vocal practice. Their extensive experience in the arrangement and singing of non-western musical forms (in rhythms, structures and scales ) has allowed Voices to enrich their own compositions with an edge of innovation that remains connected to strong and powerful cultural roots. In their nineteen years of public concerts Voices have built a strong reputation for moving and dynamic performance. The choir has performed extensively in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, at various major folk and music festivals and has organised concerts with most of the best vocal groups in Australia. Since 1997, Voices have also toured to Central Australia and across Java in Indonesia offering performances and cross-cultural workshops to much acclaim. Voices from the Vacant Lot are proud to have performed before some of the great political and cultural figures of our day, including Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gough Whitlam and Jose Ramos Horta.


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