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Last night, I attended the preview screening of Wide Open Sky, now showing in cinemas around Australia. I went for personal reasons as Mack (one of the featured children) is one of my piano students, but I came away inspired about the impact that music-making can have on rural communities. The film focuses on Moorambilla Voices, its conductor Michelle Leonard and the high-quality choral program that reaches rural children from outback NSW. Leonard is a passionate advocate of choral singing and her high expectations help to realise childrens' singing potential, pushing them beyond where they thought they could reach and developing a confidence in their own ability. The children featured in the film were all able to beautifully articulate how important music and singing is to them, and how the program enables them to find other types just like themselves amongst rural school communities where they usually feel like the odd-one-out. Some of the stories like Opal from Grawin are touching, and there are gorgeous moments between friends Ella and Katelyn from Cobar.
The film mainly dealt with the junior choir but Leonard's work also extends to a senior choir consisting of high schoolers who have developed choral skills through the program over a number of years. The program instills excellent musical role models which help the high musical outcomes including the incorporation of professional musicians for the gala performance, the camp staff who have musical backgrounds, the composers-in-residence who work to make new music with the childrens' input, and junior mentors who have graduated from the program.
Moorimbilla Voices relies on philanthropy to run its life-changing program as many of the children involved come from disadvantaged families, so financial support from the public is always welcome.
This film is a must-see for those who have a love of music and who are committed to quality music education. The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival. If you do get along to the film and are inspired as I was, make sure you donate to the cause.
To financially support the outback kids of the Moorambilla Voices, go to www.moorambillablog.wordpress.com
For more information about the movie, go to www.wideopenskymovie.com
Reflections/news on music, piano and music teaching, and anything else that pops up.