review by Meredith Fuller psychologist | theatre maker | Soiree & Salon holder
What do men need? To be part of a choir like the Veneto CLub’s marvellous choir of men aged from 89 to late 70’s, and with one 45 year old! Well, actually, what do we ALL need? To sing. There is an increasing number of mixed choirs throughout Melbourne; from Church, associations, and private groups. It’s encouraging to see how many older people are joining choirs, as we know there are so many benefits, in addition to the sheer happiness of singing together. I was struck by the benefits of this particular Choir, who have been rehearsing together for only 18 months.
I attended Veneto Club Melbourne Choir’s first showcase concert luncheon on Sunday – with around 200 people, to see another side to a friend.
The Choir sang 16 traditional Italian songs with a strong vibrant tone. They entertained us with gusto, and I was gratified to observe each alert face, given their median age of 80.
The choir updated in 2018 after they performed a commemorative event for 100 years of WW1 (North Italy). The Veneto Club c’tee members Fabia Sandona and Renato Sgarbossa recognised the value of a choir and soon the Coro committee formed with Pasquale Marinelli, Andrea Betto, Paul Michielin, Antonio Rossi, and Gabriele Parpinello. They rehearse fortnightly, and are often invited to various events.
I observed 28 older men singing proudly on stage, and enjoying camaraderie throughout the day. It was joyous and moving to see these men with purpose, self-expression, and their little grey cells working hard. These are the activities that foster male health, an interest in living, and social contribution. Some of the men are managing cancer and other illnesses, and it is obvious what a tonic the Choir provides.
An enthusiastic audience of multi-generation families honoured the worth of our older men.
Their music director was most impressive, and, while young, his earnest conducting was a great tribute to these retired builders, artisans, transport drivers and labourers.
I hold regular Salons and Soirees, and was delightfully surprised at the quality of the VCM Choir – their singing, and the tightness of the group under the impeccable eye of Di Ienno.
Only the week before, I held a ‘Day in December’ a Soiree to honour my talented relatives and friends. Our PUGH descendants sing professionally, as well as having other professional careers. The 3 Hughson Sisters entertained with songs from the 40’s onwards, Rosemary & Greg did musical numbers, contemporary, and light opera, pianist Dr Kay Stevens played Beethoven and Chopin, Marie Goldsworthy played jazz, and actor/opera singer Marie-Therese Byrne sang her heart out. Our age range encompassed thirty year olds to late seventy year olds, with an audience ranging from age 15 to 80. Everyone had a fabulous time away from digital technology and social media. Little afternoon concerts are coming back into fashion, and many people are keen to hear their wise, accomplished (and not so accomplished but passionate) elders. Several of the artists who performed at our Soiree are often booked for events, including entertainment at nursing homes. As research is finding, music and song is very helpful for those with dementia and alzheimers. Rosemary can be contacted www.rosemaryhughson.com
The VCM Choir’s music director has an interesting background;
Giuliano Di Ienno was born and raised in Civitella Messer Raimondo, a town in the province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
He studied at the Conservatorium of Music “Luisa D’Annunzio” Institute of High Culture in Pescara, Italy where he achieved the Bachelor of Music (saxophone) in 2013 and the Master of Music (saxophone) with honours in 2015. During his musical studies, he took part in various international saxophone masterclasses deepening his musical and personal training.
Giuliano expressed his passion for conducting and education founding the music school “Amici della Musica” in Civitella Messer Raimondo. As artistic director of the school, he founded and conducted a marching/concert band with about 40 players from 2007 to 2015.
In late 2015 he moved to Melbourne, Australia where he is currently working at the bilingual school Brunswick South Primary School as a music teacher, as well as music director of the Melbourne Tramways Band, Banda Musicale Italiana “Vincenzo Bellini”, Veneto Club Melbourne Choir and freelancing as a musician, educator and conductor.
Giuliano has held performances in numerous concert halls in Europe and Australia as a soloist with piano, woodwind and symphony orchestra, as well as a chamber musician, musician and conductor of bands.
I wish that local councils, associations, and other groups would consider forming such a choir – I’m sure there are many older men who would join with alacrity.
Veneto CLub tel 9850 7111
191 Bulleen Rd, Bulleen 3105.