The city of rainbow roundabouts is about to raise its voice in song when the 2019 Out and Loud choral festival comes to town in October.
Organisers say they have their fingers crossed that, with a bit of help, choristers from Fiji and East Timor will join the event for the first time.
The festival has occurred every three years since 2001 and celebrates pride in the LGBTIQ+ community through music. It’s one of the only occasions when choirs from most Australian capital cities and Auckland meet to share the joy of singing, socialising and forming communities together.
“We looked at Out and Loud and felt that we needed to expand it,” says spokesperson Payton Gregor of the decision to invite the Fijian and East Timorese choirs.
“The Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire and convenor Dave Worner were aware that not all LGBTIQ+ people are as fortunate in their community acceptance as we are here in Canberra.
“In Qwire’s opinion, it’s time people are accepted and integrated into their communities everywhere. Everyone wants to fit in, and there’s no better way to do that than by singing together.”
Dili activists had flagged the idea of an LGBTIQ+ choir with their advocacy partners, while the Rainbow Free and Equal choir in Suva was founded in 2015 as part of a UN human rights campaign. Payton says their LGBTIQ+ advocacy role in Fiji is starting to grow as they campaign for equality and acceptance.
“This is the perfect opportunity to offer support and encouragement with what they’re doing and heighten their roles,” Payton says.
“Dave had some contacts and so we made a decision that since Qwire Canberra was hosting the national event, that we’d try to bring them over.”
It’s been a tough process to both raise funds and co-ordinate the choirs, particularly when political and social support for them is not necessarily as forthcoming as it would be here. A GoFundMe Page has been set up to bring the Fiji and East Timor choirs to Canberra, and there’s been extensive fundraising to support both groups.
Out & Loud 2019 performances will take place at a number of significant venues including the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia from the 24th to the 27th of October, with social events scheduled for the 28th.
The final performance will unite all of the choirs and festival-goers at the ticketed Gala Concert at Llewellyn Hall on 27 October.
Award-winning composer and musician Sally Whitwell will bring the world premiere performance of a new composition to the Gala Concert which will also include performances by all the participating choirs and a massed choral event. Musical direction for the massed choir will be by Stephen Leek, one of Australia’s foremost choral musicians and conductors.
The Canberra Qwire, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year welcomes all members of the public to celebrate the LGBTIQ+ community during the festival by attending the iconic venue performances, Gala Concert and even the Party on Saturday night!
“I went to rehearsals weekend before last with 60 choir members and it was beautiful to see the acceptance, the happiness,” Payton says.
“People are thrilled to be there and participate in a community they have created with Qwire. Out and Loud will create an even bigger community. We will have 300 voices up on stage singing about equality, happiness and love.
“The fact the Out and Loud is happening here in Canberra where the marriage equality vote was so strong makes this really special for our community.”
Tickets for the Gala concert go on sale on Monday, August 26. You can find more information about the event at the Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire website