United by one voice

An intergenerational choir based at a Melbourne facility hooked up with an elderly choir in Amsterdam.

Like sitting around a big round table: choristers from Australia and the Netherlands connect for an international, intergenerational concert.

The barriers of distance, culture and age came crashing down at the weekend when an Australian intergenerational choir conducted a video link up with an elderly choir in Amsterdam.

Six older members and four local school children from the ‘Generations in One Voice’ choir hooked up with the Dutch choir for a mini concert.

Based at the Emmy Monash Aged Care facility in Melbourne, the choir is composed of high and low care residents, their family members and carers and local students.

The choir’s conductor, Pamela Bruder said the singing event was an amazing experience for everyone involved.

“The screens are so big that it was like we were all sitting around a big round table,” she said.

“There were a lot of hellos exchanged. The Dutch choir was yelling out hello and we replied spontaneously.

“We took two people from the dementia area, one person from high care and three people from low care – two of the low care people are legally blind but we all sat there as equals.”

“They were all connecting with what was happening, they were happy and people were moved. We got rid of all those classifications that separate people.”

The idea for the international concert came out of a chance meeting at the International Federation on Ageing conference in May.

After presenting on ‘Generations in One Voice’, Ms Bruder was approached by a British businessman who had been working with a Dutch aged care choir. He told her he would like to connect the two groups via a teleconference.

“It seemed like quite an outlandish suggestion but I said sure,” Ms Bruder said. “It seemed too big to happen but we followed up on it.

“He wrote me an email afterwards, saying the presentation was the most uplifting thing he had seen at the whole conference and he copied in someone in Amsterdam. After that I knew he was for real.”

Ms Bruder now plans to arrange more ‘tele-concerts’ with the Dutch based group, as she completes a PhD on the anthropological impact of the choir at Emmy Monash.

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