Recently we were pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Viviane Knight, who is the conductor for the West Australian Nightingale Chorale. She follows Imperfect Women and left a comment on one of our recent posts concerning Abby Sunderland. In her email she shared with me some information regarding the Chorale and the works she does and we wanted to share her passion with you.
The West Australian Nightingale Chorale is a non auditioned choir formed in 1995 and consists of 35 choristers that range between the ages of 18 years old to 87 years young. The Chorale has developed and recorded a repertoire of songs of peace, grace, goodwill from Classical to Gospel, with Negro Spirituals and Jazz thrown in the mix.
The Chorale has a long list of achievements that include an extensive tour of South America, Uruguay and Brazil in August of 2006 which saw the choir sing to full houses in Buenos Aires, La Plata, Montevideo, Rio and Paratay. Currently they are in the process of raising money to travel overseas to Vienna in 2011 which holds a special place in the heart of Viviane Knight because it is her birthplace and where she first learned to sing.
We were pleased to be able to have Viviane answer some questions so we could gain a more insight into the Chorale.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
IW: This quote was on the Facebook page you forwarded. Who wrote this?
VK: The author is unknown (to my knowledge), it has been our motto for some time, and it is so very true for a chorale such as ours.
IW: Can you explain a little what a non audition choir is all about?
VK: A non audition choir means that I will take anybody who wants to sing without even auditioning them, young or old, singers or non singers. Everybody can sing…some better than others, for sure. I have had tone deaf people in my chorale and they have as much right to enjoy a good sing as everybody else.
IW: Do the age differences of your members create any issues?
VK: No at all, the older ones are rather fond of the young ones.
IW: How do the oldest and youngest members of the choir interact? I would imagine strong bonds have been formed because of the choir.
VK: The best example of this was when we traveled to Ireland and sang in Clonmel. We were guest of another choir and my youngest tenor met a soprano from the other choir. They fell in love and she traveled twice to Australia, applied for permanent resident visa and got married here. They did not have anything, so the choir financed the wedding for them including the white dress, DJ, flowers, church and the catering.
Another time, one of our tenors hit a kangaroo driving back from the airport and damaged the car. He was stuck in the forest all-night, till help arrived. He had no money and no insurance. The choir members paid for the repairs and gave him one year worth of insurance to help him. He never looked back. There have been many other occasions when we have had members who died and the choir has assisted their families.
More recently, when I was in hospital (my husband needs care 24/7) the choir rallied and travelled 400 km in turn to take care of him and brought cooked meals so that I would not have to worry about cooking for some time.
IW: How many countries have you traveled to?
IW: Which trip stands out the most?
VK: They were absolutely fascinating and so different. The South American people were so warm and I loved their music totally. One outstanding memory was to be the guest for an underprivileged school in Rio de Janeiro. We had hundreds of kids of every age rocking and dancing. Such a privilege that was.
IW: How do you deal with the language barriers when you travel?
VK: I speak French and a little Spanish so we have not had a great deal of problems. However in Buenos Aires, when a choir member went to order a pizza, they ended up with BIG fat creamy cake. That was a good laugh. In Ireland, we had a tenor hospitalized and the hospital called our patron Mary lane. His name is Murray Lang and that was another good laugh.
IW: Do you have any plans to come to the United States?
VK: We are trying to get to Vienna next year for the Christmas season, and then USA. The major problem is money. We do not get any funding from the government simply because sports are more supported then the choral world and no scheme in this country will give sponsorship to go out of the country.
We would like to bring Eduardo Lakschevitz here as our guest and even with his qualifications, we cannot obtain any grant or sponsorship. It is heart breaking. He is a brilliant man. He was the person who took us to the underprivileged school and even played the sax for us.
IW: If someone wanted to make a donation for your next trip, how would they do so?
VK: We could provide you with EFTPOS via PayPal or direct debit into the account. (Please contact Imperfect Women at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with Viviane.)
IW: Keeping in the theme of Imperfect Women, what would you say is your group’s biggest imperfection?
VK: They talk too much in rehearsal and after 17 years I have given up….trying to correct it.
They are such a terrific bunch, they call me the “dragon, the dictator, the boss, and all sorts of other names.
IW: We want to thank Viviane Knight for bringing her passion to our attention. You can also follow the West Australian Nightingale Chorale on Facebook.
About Viviane Knight.
Music has always been a passion in Viviane’s life since the age of four. At the age of eight she learned to play the piano and accordion and at 13, Viviane started her singing career and subsequently graduated from Belgium Conservatorium of Music with a degree in Music for Piano. She now specializes in the field of Vocal Teaching. A highlight of her career was receiving a Belgian Government medal for outstanding contribution in the field of singing and for excellence in voice training.
In 1968 Viviane migrated to Australia and started teaching singing and piano. Her passion took a different turn some years ago and she accepted an invitation to form a choir and she now devotes all of her time to choral activities and conducting. She is the recipient of several diplomas from the Asian Pacific Music Academy and has attended several master classes with Rodney Eichenberger, a well known American conductor.
Viviane regularly presents Workshops around Australia and currently is the administrator of Choral Association Australia. She is a Standford Who’s Who member.