SONG IN THEIR HEARTS: Senior members of The Blenders chorus, headed by president Damon Newman, are urged into song as they accept the Gold Coast City Council Community Service Award.
SONG IN THEIR HEARTS: Senior members of The Blenders chorus, headed by president Damon Newman, are urged into song as they accept the Gold Coast City Council Community Service Award.

Iconic Blenders rewarded for outstanding service

MOST Gold Coasters will have heard The Blenders male chorus at some point over the past 30-odd years, but few may have realised just how much this year's winner of the City Council Community Service Award actually does.

Referring to The Blenders as a Gold Coast icon, the award citation stated: "The Blenders have provided outstanding service to the community through mentoring young leaders, inter-generational outreach, establishing choruses and bringing cheer and celebration to the Gold Coast, Australia and internationally".

Whether speaking to an old hand like Barry Mallett (a member for at least 20 years), or a relative newcomer like Alan Martin (two years) it is clear that the group lives up to its simple claim of "a singing group for mates".

But the largest male chorus in Australia is also highly regarded for its talents, and puts in a lot of work to earn its reputation, which has led to eight consecutive Australian National Chorus titles, two Pan Pacific Chorus Championship wins and representing Australia at international competitions.

Crikey! They were even chosen (along with John Williamson) to perform at Steve Irwin's 2006 memorial, beamed to millions around the world.

They also make Gold Coast Citizenship ceremonies something special, play at Australia and Anzac Day events, Christmas carols, charity fundraisers and more.

Barry, 72, a life member, member of the executive and past president, said the camaraderie, team spirit, challenges and competition were not unlike his old days playing rugby ... but without the contact.

"And when things aren't so good in life, you have a community to talk to," he said.

"I've made lifetime friends within the group - it's hard to explain how good that is."

Always interested in youth development, Barry said The Blenders also gave youngsters a good foundation and taught them respect, with members varying in age from low teens to their 80s.

"We really connect through the music and teamwork, and discuss how to sing a love song, how to treat a woman, and it's a very powerful influence on young people," Barry said.

Originally a Kiwi, Alan, 60, said he had always been involved in singing through choirs and musical theatre, but had never tried his hand at the four-part a cappella barbershop style of the Blenders.

As a non-sportsman, he joined the chorus to feel part of the community again after moving to Australia five years previously.

"It was a really hard challenge for me, and pushed me in directions I hadn't gone before - there is a lot of music and a lot to remember - but it was so easy to make friends," Alan said.

Like Barry, Alan said he enjoyed the multi- generational aspect of the choir, and the training, which includes breath and musical training, with support for beginner and intermediate singers as well as the more confident, and no expectation of being able to read music.

The chorus' repertoire covers a variety of musical genres from Johnny O'Keefe to Gershwin, from classical to rock and roll to Australiana, and The Blenders also incorporate the smaller Youth Chorus, Postbusters, Benchmark, Blindside, Escapade and Upgrade groups.

For anyone interested in giving a capella singing a go, Barry said the upcoming series of free SingGC Workshops at Griffith Uni over four weeks was ideal, offering expert coaching and culminating in a concert, starting May 13 for males and May 14 for females.

"This program has been a roaring success since it started and we look forward to another fun time this year as well," he said.

Info: singgc. com.au, or info re joining The Blenders, visit the blenders.com.au, watch a Monday night rehearsal, or phone Noel Grummitt on 0419711177.


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