Sisongke Choir started in 1994 after trade unionists from South Africa held a series of workshops teaching songs of protest from South Africa.
The workshops were a huge success and a small group decided to start a choir to sing the songs they had learnt. They received a grant from Arts Tasmania to help with the initial set-up costs. They managed to attract Michael McCarthy, a lecturer in a Capella singing and conducting, to take on the choir as music director. Michael stayed with the choir for 4 years, culminating his tenure with the production of a CD.
One of the principal organisers was Victoria Rigney and the choir benefitted from her energy and dedication for many years. Over the years, many other people have devoted their time and energy to the choir and we owe them a vote of thanks.
Sisongke has had several music directors since that time, including Isobel, Adele, Greg, Adrian, and Lyndall. The music we learn and sing varies depending on the taste and interest of the current music director and the current members of the choir, but the common theme remains songs of peace and justice from around the world sung a Capella.
In 2004 Sisongke put on a 10 year anniversary concert at Hobart Town Hall and many of the golden oldies were sung during that year. It was a very special night of celebration.
Another precious memory involves singing at Hastings Cave in the dark. They hadn’t set up lights, so all the choir could see was the light of Adrian’s mobile phone as he conducted holding the phone in his hand. We came up into the daylight after the first break to be told by Adrian, “Smile – they can hear that you aren’t smiling!”
The committee tries to organise special events for the choir and over the years we have sung at peace rallies, travelled to Zeehan and Queenstown, Burnie and Ulverstone and sung at Launceston markets and at the Gorge (magnificent).
The music had travelled all over the world, from Africa to South America, from USA to Europe and from the Middle East to the Far East – we love variety!