FOCUS catches up with Gordon Hamilton. We ask about his involvement in the Australian Voices and his future within the group.
Who are The Australian Voices, and what is the history and vision of the group?
We’re a national vocal ensemble based in Brisbane. Basically, we sing the music of our country. We’ve been commissioning Australian composers for 18 years and touring their music around the world. Foreign audiences go wild, because they feel like they’re in the rainforest or the desert!
You are the current Conductor, but also have a few other roles. Tell us about your involvement.
Yeah, I also write some tunes for the group! In this concert we’ll be doing my music-theatre piece called MOON. Diana the moon has been orbiting the Earth for billions of years and finally wants a boyfriend (that’s a really long time to wait for a date!) So she sends out her moonbeams to find the hottest boy on earth, who actually turns out to be a Facebook addict!
Having toured internationally for the past few years, what brings about this regional tour?
So I can show off my moves at Altitude Night Club, of course! We really want to bring this wonderful music of our own country to local audiences. It’s really a bit unknown – which is a shame. Everyone knows Glee, Soweto Gospel Choir and Cuban music and other fun vocal music like that, but we want to showcase the music that really comes from Australia – and in a way belongs here.
We have had a listen to your original ‘Toy Story 3 = Awesome! (The Facebook Song)’, and it is really amazingly clever. How did the idea come to fruition?
Well … I had to finish a song for a children’s workshop, and knowing me, I had left it until the last night and was procrastinating on Facebook. So in a last-ditch effort, I just took a bunch of random status updates and smashed them together. It’s called Toy Story 3 = Awesome! So if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you’ll hear that “Ellenor Hayes wants to cook an omelette” and “I was in a choir before Glee made it cool”. Stuff like that. I like composing music that has its source in unexpected collaborative places like Facebook. Lee Unkrich (The director of Toy Story 3) actually saw our video on YouTube and posted on his Facebook page – ironic, huh?
What other famous songs do you cover or will cover in the performance at the Glasshouse?
We’ll sing some really gorgeous choral classics, like Rachmaninov’s Ave Maria and also some really cool Australian songs. Lisa Young (from Coco’s Lunch) wrote us a song that sounds like Indian drumming, with Ella Fitzgerald singing over the top. I just finished writing a piece for The Australian Voices that smashes together 37 pop songs (from 2011) in 3 minutes! Who would imagine a classical choir singing Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg and Usher? My manager reckons I’m just lazy for not actually writing a single note of this song myself!
While in Port Macquarie, you plan to hold a special opening for the concert. How are locals being invited to get involved?
Oh, dude – I’m so pumped for this. We’re inviting members of the community of all ages to come along on the day (6 – 7pm) and practice a song with us. It’s a welcome song by William Barton (the famous didgeridoo player). We actually make the sound of the didgeridoo with our voices! It’s really easy: you don’t need any experience – anybody can learn this song! Just register yourself on our website: www.theaustralianvoices.com. There is a video trailer there (as well as some hot pics of us too!)