Port Macquarie community choir Kala Rava come together online in song

Kala Rava Community Choir - recorded on their phones in isolation and then brought together in rehearsal. Music by Gregory Norbet/ Sufi Chant. Arranged Anders Nyberg. Permission granted by both composer and arranger.
Kala Rava Community Choir - recorded on their phones in isolation and then brought together in rehearsal. Music by Gregory Norbet/ Sufi Chant. Arranged Anders Nyberg. Permission granted by both composer and arranger.

It is a choir of beautiful voices, all singing in isolation, come together for a special moment in song. No, not from across the world - from the NSW Mid-North Coast.

Port Macquarie's Kala Rava choir, directed by Marie van Gend, has produced a song the only way it can be done amid a global health pandemic.

All I Ask of You came together during a Tuesday night song session, albeit online via Zoom.

Every choir member recorded their voice and Marie brought each file together to create the 'choir'.

"This is particularly lovely," she said of the final result.

Kala Rava singing All I Ask of You

And she is right. Their voices meld together as perfectly as they would if the choir was together in person.

Kala Rava (Sanskrit for Deep Melodious Sound), is an adult community choir based at The Con in Port Macquarie.

It formed in 2016 and has grown to a membership of around 70.

The group is un-auditioned and anyone is welcome.

Director of Port Macquarie community choir Kala Rava, Marie van Gend.

Director of Port Macquarie community choir Kala Rava, Marie van Gend.

Members range from highly trained musicians to people who have never sung in a choir in their lives.

Most of their repertoire is a cappella (unaccompanied) and varies from world music to arrangements of contemporary classics.

Marie, who has teaching and leading local choirs for the last 25 years, began the journey at Wauchope Public School before moving to St Columba Anglican School.

She has completed a PhD in adolescent singing voices.

I hope that we have learned to slow down, value relationships and value the arts - as that is where we turn when things get tough.

Marie van Gend

Her most current major project is reviving the art of lullaby singing through her podcast Lullaby: The First Steps.

Her choir at Port Macquarie Base Hospital and the Lullaby Circle, also at the hospital, are currently on hold because of the social restrictions around COVID-19.

Marie's mission is to help people work past their fear of singing, and to encourage as many people as possible to make it a part of their normal lives.

Marie said the current health crisis is a challenging situation for us all.

"The most important thing for me is that my family is safe," she said. "My sons both live overseas (USA and Canada) and my daughter has moved home to us from Sydney.

"My mum is in Wauchope. We have adapted by having regular family get togethers on Zoom - even my mum joins in.

"The other important thing is keeping busy - and that is where doing the work with the choirs and my Lullaby podcast have kept me sane. The other important thing is washing my hands!"

She said now should be a time of self reflection and putting life into perspective.

"I hope that we have learned to slow down, value relationships and value the arts - as that is where we turn when things get tough.

"Imagine this time with no music, movies, television or books."

This story Beautiful sounds of isolation as community choir unite online in song first appeared on Port Macquarie News.