MiC Awards 2011


Theme: Local Links - Community Music Connects the Dots

An Overall Winner has been announced in this year’s Awards - Moorambilla Voices and Festival, NSW. 

In just six years, the Festival has grown from its beginnings as a choral outreach program with 38 boys in drought-stricken Coonamble in north western NSW, to a cultural highlight of national significance. The grassroots multi-arts Festival has community music-making at its heart, whilst creating new Australian works about the region by leading composers and professional musicians and visual artists

In their citation about the winning entry, the National Awards Judges said:

“This is a world class initiative, in the bush. It has developed from the bottom up – using the talents and resources of the region and amalgamating them with visiting artists, to create really meaningful opportunities for everyone involved. It is not often that you see young indigenous kids in a regional opportunity given the opportunity to be at the heart of a cultural program this rich and diverse. Here, indigenous music and visual art connects with Japanese drumming, leading composers work with the community to generate new music about the local area. The economic and social value of this festival to the local community is enormous.

Runners-Up are Emmy Monash 'Generations in One Voice' Community Choir, VIC and Human Ventures - project: Shockwave Festival, QLD.

In addition, judges made a Special Commendation to Aged Care Deloraine/The Residents, TAS; Stylin' Up The Emerge Program, QLD and State of the Music Scene Forum, NSW.

2011 Finalists and Winners

We received many outstanding entries from choirs, bands, orchestras, drum circles, accordion societies, all sorts of groups from right across Australia. After much deliberation these were whittled down to just 18 finalists.

OVERALL WINNER: Moorambilla Voices and Festival

moorambillaThe Moorambilla Festival originated as a performance opportunity for the singers in Moorambilla Voices, but has steadily grown in size, style, scope and reach. Now in its sixth year, this multi-arts festival, built on a foundation of grassroots community music making, features professional guest musicians and artists drawn from Sydney and across the region. Moorambilla Voices draws together kids from 78 schools across the region with over one third of the students participating in 2011 self-identified as indigenous.The festival is a cultural highlight on the calendar of north-western NSW.

The festival is defined by its partnerships and collaborations with other artists, particularly the indigenous visual artists from the Ngemba Wailwan Collective in Warren. But the life blood of the festival is it’s long term strategic partnering with Coonamble Shire Council and a with Outback Arts. The strong support offered by council no doubt influenced by the festival producing evidence of providing a ‘return on investment’ to the region of $198,000 in 2011 alone!

Judges' comments

“This is a world class initiative, in the bush. It has developed from the bottom up – using the talents and resources of the region and amalgamating them with visiting artists, to create really meaningful opportunities for everyone involved. It is not often that you see young indigenous kids in a regional opportunity given the opportunity to be at the heart of a cultural program this rich and diverse. Here, indigenous music and visual art connects with Japanese drumming, leading composers work with the community to generate new music about the local area. The economic and social value of this festival to the local community is enormous. Well done!”


SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Aged Care Deloraine/The Residents

theresidents“The Residents” is a weekly men’s radio program, produced and recorded by male residents living at Aged Care Deloraine, in regional Tasmania.  Each week the men come together and record themselves singing favorite 1920’s to 1950’s classics, memories, stories and jokes with a selection of their favorite music, all under the guidance of a registered music therapist. The program is broadcast weekly on the Meander Valley Community Radio Station.The program supports residents transitioning from rural communities to residential care facilities and provides opportunities for increased emotional expression and life review for its participants.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other men.” says one of the Residents “I’ve been isolated on a farm all my life, I only ever socialized with people I worked for.”

“The program has helped improve my memory.” says another “I just love all the singing!”


Berry Public School

berrypsBerry Public School has partnered with Wollongong Conservatorium of Music to deliver a quality program of ensemble and individual music tuition to its students. This partnership, initiated through the Illawarra Chapter of the Music in Communities Network, provides staff and students access to experienced Conservatorium tutors, allowing the school to enhance their music curriculum with a comprehensive program of band, ensemble and individual tuition. Berry Public provides a performance platform for Conservatorium ensembles, giving Conservatorium students the opportunity mentor younger students.

"Our links with the Wollongong Conservatorium have made a significant improvement to the value of music within the school," says principal Peter Burney.



Binalong Public School

binnalongBinalong Public School is a small rural school with 25 students total, spanning Kindergarten to year 6. The Binalong Country Women’s Association and the School’s P&C worked together to secure a grant from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal to seed fund a school music program that would see the whole school participate in a full hour of music education each week. The grant has enabled the two community groups to pay a music teacher (Mrs Winterflood) and to purchase second hand instruments including brass, guitars and percussion.

“Music in the school has been enhanced with the P&C, CWA and community working together with the school to offer musical opportunities not usually available to a small school such as Binalong Public School.” says school principle Heather Johnson.

Catch Music Inc

Perth based Catch Music is a place where anyone can share their passion for music and sing or play their instrument in an inclusive, welcoming environment.  Sessions are led by a Catch Music music facilitator who is responsible for making sure everyone is included and feels welcome, even those with limited musical skills. Partnering with the Western Australian Disability Services Commission has given Catch Music access to a network of community outreach workers, who are able to spread the word and recruit members for Catch Music sessions. Two of Catch Music’s Board members are employees of the Disability Services Commission, sharing their experience and insights into progressive philosophies around disability. Catch Music provides a space for people of all abilities to share in the co-creation of music, with each individual’s unique contribution equally valued.


RUNNER UP: Emmy Monash Aged Care ‘Generations In One Voice’ Community Choir

emmymonashThe ‘Generations in One Voice’ Community Choir comprises residents of all care needs (including low care, high care and dementia residents), family members and students from Wooranna Park Primary School. Emmy Monash is a Jewish aged care facility, while Wooranna Park Primary School is a secular primary school in Dandenong North. There is an inter-generational, inter-faith and and inter-cultural aspect to the choir. The choir sings songs in five languages and themed events are staged regularly, for which the choir rehearses a specific repertoire of songs. The strong focus on boosting inter-generational interaction has been one of the most successful elements of the project. Wooranna Park Primary School has a culturally diverse student population, a number of whom arrived in Australia as refugees. The coming together of the generations, a number of whom share a common background of fleeing from homelands for survival, is a thread whose significance is recognised and valued by both organisations.

Judges' Comments:

“This is a beautiful initiative providing a transformational experience for both young and old. As a society we need to foster many more such connections to develop greater understanding between cultures and between older people and new generations. We were inspired by the ways in which technology has been harnessed to enable this singing program to really fly. Every community needs a program like this: well done, Emmy Monash!”

Gunnedah Conservatorium

gunnedah2The Gunnedah and District Schools Spectacular is a model for cross sector collaboration. The event brings together all thirteen local schools - both government (including special needs) and non-government, and community music organisations (Gunnedah Shire Band, Gunnedah Pipes and Drums and Gunnedah Conservatorium). 500-700 students are involved each year. Gunnedah Conservatorium provides administration and media support. All schools contribute to event management tasks. Local sponsorship has off-set production and transport costs for schools. Funds raised go back to schools to invest in their music education programs. A brilliant example of an entire community coming together in music.


Heathfield High School/Wallaroo Primary School

In 2004, a devastating arson attack destroyed the music performance space of Wallaroo Public School (175 kms west of Adelaide). Heathfield Music students decided to help, developing a program that became known as the ‘Wallaroo/Heathfield Music Outreach Program. This school ‘camp’ is different from others: it’s about helping a small community, making friends, sharing learnings and developing mentors. The younger students respond really well to being taught music by students not very much older than themselves. Since the inception of the Outreach Program, many Heathfield High music students who have graduated go on to study music at a tertiary level intending to become music teachers. The school is looking to expand the program to two other schools in the Wallaroo region: Moonta and Kadina.


RUNNER UP: Human Ventures: Shockwave Festival

shockwaveShockwave is a multi-arts festival designed by, for and with young people, and the community of Central West Qld (CWQ). It is the major showcase of a creative skills and enterprise development program for young people, Creative Pathways in the Central West (CPCW). It is a free event held each year at the Blackall Memorial Hall & Skate Park attracting over 500 people from regional Qld. Shockwave develops the skills of, and presents music by young regional solo artists, bands, DJ’s and choirs while showcasing professional Qld musicians. To make this event possible, Human Ventures has brought together 43 diverse organisations ranging from schools, social and sports clubs to local businesses, media, churches, community service and government organisations - all contributing to build skills, self-confidence and resilience in CWQ youth.

Judges' Comments:

“Shockwave may have a festival as the culminating point, but the processes that lead up to it are just as powerful in their outcomes. There are so many transferrable skills developed for the young people involved: contracting, invoicing, the basics of business and marketing, performance skills, songwriting – no stone is left unturned! From local cafes to the State Library of QLD and even the Royal Flying Doctor Service, this is a holistic initiative with the welfare of young people at its heart. Great work, Human Ventures!”



Monbulk Primary School

monbulkAt Monbulk Primary School the idea of music education is embedded in both the curriculum and the community. The School takes community engagement and partnership development very seriously. Its new Living & Learning Centre houses a number of Monbulk community organisations, including the maternal and child health service, kindergarten, library, Senior Citizens Centre, Historical Society, and a range of other services and groups including the Dandenong Ranges Music Council (DRMC). Since 1983, the school has partnered with the DRMC to design purpose built music spaces for school and community music. They continue to formulate mutually supportive networks such as a proposed University of Melbourne consultancy to identify and support music initiatives and resources within the school. Both DRMC and Monbulk Primary see themselves in a symbiotic relationship, both are collectively advantaged. (pictured: Rhonda Davidson-Irwin conducting the choir at the recent opening of Monbulk Primary's new Arts Centre)


Moreland City Band

When Moreland City Band heard it was to lose its band hall to a council redevelopment it was a bombshell that threatened to snuff out the light of over 100 years of music making. But this potential catastrophe turned out to be the catalyst for an inspirational and reinvigorating transformation. Dubbed “MCB - The Phoenix Project” the band rethought the traditional model of the brass band and forged a new identity and purpose. They have reoriented the band to better reflect the personality of the Brunswick/Moreland/Darebin community. They have created a centre for music making of various sorts but still retaining an emphasis on the big band format (brass and woodwind with a rhythm section).

The new focus attracted the attention of the local community and council, who found a new space for the band in a refurbished plant nursery. Local schools and businesses, including Bendigo Bank, have got onboard injecting funds and in-kind support into the project.

“Moreland City Band is one of those rare institutions that combines a genuine historic legacy with a thriving contemporary dynamic” says player and band parent Malcolm McKinnon, “. I believe that Moreland is extremely fortunate to have a brass band that must surely be amongst the most exciting and innovative organisations of its type anywhere in the country.”

A Night with the Orchestra

nightwithorchNow in its third year, A Night with the Orchestra began with a desire by members of the South Burnett Community Orchestra to share their music with local primary school students. Not content to just give a concert, the orchestra teamed up with local schools and local businesses and council to develop a one term program of music education that culminates in a free public concert.

While the project offers opportunities and experiences to local schools usually only available to schools in metropolitan areas, it has also caused a dramatic rise in the audiences for the orchestra.

“To see so many children, parents, grandparents and members of the community interacting with these talented musicians is certainly acknowledgement to the success of this project” says Mayor Carter.

In 2011 they teamed with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra to develop the curriculum further and explore future possibilities for the expansion of the project.

Resonance String Orchestra

resonanceThe Resonance String Orchestra brings together students from 15 schools in and around Woodend, in the Macedon Ranges, 70 kms northwest of Melbourne. The orchestra’s teaching staff comprise of four local music teachers, supported by two committees of volunteers a board and a support organisation.

The orchestra rehearses in venues provided for free by Woodend Primary School and in return, the orchestra works closely with the school’s own music program, performing at the WPS String Program concerts and providing role-modelling to the junior students. Because of this, many more students from the school are joining the orchestra.

A small amount of funding from the shire council has given a hugh boost to the orchestras program, enabling the Visiting Artist project to bring in a professional musician to work with the orchestra. The council’s cultural development team leader also offers invaluable support assisting with grant applications to other funding bodies.

“This exciting musical program is a rare find in rural and regional Victoria” says delighted parent Allan Spencer-Stewart. “I have been astounded at the level of music development the Resonance string program has achieved.”

Sing for Joy Choir

Sing for Joy is an inclusive choir for 28 older people living in metropolitan Adelaide who would not otherwise be able to participate. Most live alone at home, are socially isolated or live with memory loss. Aged Care Housing (ACH) Group and volunteers support the choir, coordinating membership, transport and follow up reminders for the members who need that support. ACH Group, with funding from the state government, helps those members who need assistance to attend, covers insurance, transport and reimbursement of volunteer costs, venue hire and administrative costs. Also on board is the Foundation for Older Australians who initially funded the choir leaders’ fees and are now looking to support the expansion of the choir to two more areas. The local lodge of Masons is offering funding support and the local council helps out through subsidised venue hire.

“(Sing for Joy’s) performances have brought tears to the eyes of those in the audience.” says Mary Giles, community arts officer from the NPSP council.”It is impossible not to be moved by the smiles of pride and self worth on the faces of the singers and listeners are obviously taken to a different place emotionally when they hear and see Sing for Joy.”


SPECIAL COMMENDATION: State of the Music Scene Forum

rob-carrBeginning with the Wollongong Music Round Table in 2004, Rob Carr (pictured) organised a series of fundraisers, petitions, awards and events for local bands with a focus on community democracy and assisting young people. He followed this with the State of the Music Scene Forum in April 2011, a huge success attended by around 200 local Wollongong musicians. The Forum addressed the need to improve Wollongong’s music scene ‘infrastructure’, recognise its history and promote advocacy by working with Council, State government and private business initiatives. In September 2011, Rob spearheaded the Rock the Vote Wollongong! campaign, giving local bands the opportunity to be part of a CD compilation and perform at a live gig in the city. 260 people were entertained and sixteen bands made it onto the CD, which was produced and given away for free at the live show. Local bands received exposure on commercial radio, television, ABC Illawarra and various social media. Through doing what they do best (performing) local bands acted as advocates for themselves and for the music industry as a whole.

“The work that Rob and his team have done for the musicians in the Wollongong area has been amazing.” says local music store owner Glenn Haworth “It has been great to see all his efforts starting to pay off.”

SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Stylin’UP and the Emerge Program

emergeThe Stylin’Up Community Development Project and Festival is guided by three themes: `Pride in Self, Pride in Community, Pride in Culture'. Established in 2001, Stylin' UP is widely regarded as Australia's premier Indigenous youth and community development program, culminating in one of Australia's largest free Hip Hop, R'N'B music and dance festivals. Part of the festival, the Emerge Artists Music Workshops are a free series of workshops offering artists' performance skill based workshops and professional development opportunities. This program has exceeded all expectations with young artists winning national music awards and being promoted as new and exciting face of Australian Hip Hop in overwhelmingly positive media coverage. The program and festival, developed in direct partnership between Brisbane City Council and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Inala Elders Association and other strategic partnerships between government, the arts and cultural sector with family and community support given young artists strong foundation to explore and develop musical talents, raising esteem for themselves and their communities.


The Tuggerah Lakes Learning Community(TLLC) Koori Choir

Seven public primary schools on the NSW central coast have joined forces to establish the TLLC Koori Choir. The choir is made up of over 90 indigenous and non-Indigenous children from years 3 to 6 who come together to sing songs relating to Aboriginal identity and culture. Brining Indigenous and non-Indigenous children together to sing and celebrate indigenous culture has built an environment of mutual respect. Koori children have grown in their identity and they have greater confidence. The choir has reverberated with the local community who support and are proud of the choir’s performances. As one young chorister put it, “The Koori Choir makes me feel proud to be Aboriginal. I enjoy performing and I know the audience knows that we are all proud of who we are.”

Voices of Birralee

Getting boys singing is hard enough at the best of times. In May 2011, the Voices of Birralee successfully staged the 2nd Pemulwuy National Male Voice Festival which involved 500 male singers from 17 choirs from across the country working with renown Australian and international composers and conductors.The Voices of Birralee partnered with Brisbane City Council, Arts Queensland, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Australian National Choral Association, Brisbane Grammar School and Brisbane Girls Grammar School to produce this world class event. The festival brings together a diverse group of boys and men (aged 8 to 83) to sing and create new music telling stories that preserve and celebrate place and identity.

“I learnt a lot and I know my guys did too.” says Noel Ancell, conductor of the Melbourne based Australian Boys Choir “The concerts were inspiring and the assembled talent was quite humbling.”


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