A “Rather Magic” Choir

Anyone who has experience with volunteer coordination will understand how sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t and sometimes things take on a life of their own. As part of Windana Therapeutic Community (TC) at Maryknoll’s residential rehabilitation program, an established choir group the Maryknoll Fire Choir visited the TC for a Tuesday evening performance (and sing-along) of gospel, freedom songs and tribally inspired music in the beautiful Pete’s Place, known for its ethereal acoustics. Coordinated by Karen McKnight (below) and TC Manager David Thornton, the evening was an experiment, bringing two different tribes together on a wintry night. Mostly retired professionals meeting up with a group of disadvantaged people, would they connect?

From that night it was agreed that the Maryknoll Fire Choir would conduct singing rehearsals at Pete’s Place fortnightly with space for TC residents to have regular experience in a choir. The TC choir is now deep in preparations for its first public performance at the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) Conference in November this year.

A Feedback sheet from the first night says it all. When asked ‘what was good about it?’ a TC resident and choir participant summed it up. “Everything”. Another participant described getting “so emotional as I listened to the soul of their songs that the tears continued to pour from my eyes. I felt sadness, pain and it was healing for me.” Volunteer Coordinator Karen McKnight believes that people do start to blossom when they can find a voice, and tell their story. “I very much support educational experiences for people with addiction issues that can show them pathways to creativity and higher purpose. “

“ The ATCA performance is going to be really empowering for Windana in the sense that this choir is something that was ‘designed’. The serendipity of the Maryknoll Fire Choir is part of its joy; about how two unlikely groups have got together and it has rolled along from there.”