Later this month, the Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire will host the 2019 Out and Loud choral festival, celebrating pride in the LGBTIQ+ community through music.
This will be the first time Canberra hosts Out and Loud, which has occurred at a number of host cities around Australia every three years since 2001.
The festival is the only occasion when choirs from most Australian capital cities and Auckland meet to share the joy of singing, socialising, inspiring and learning from each other.
Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire musical director, Karen Wilden, tells Canberra Weekly that Out and Loud is also about the Qwire giving back to their community and the broader Canberra community that have supported them generously throughout its 26-year existence.
“That’s by telling stories through song, giving people something to go away and reflect on, but also being entertained,” she says.
Wilden says the communal element of the Out and Loud festival is something she’s enjoyed greatly in the past, and looks forward to bringing to Canberra.
“Auckland hosted in 2016, and we had the most fabulous time. We would go out to this big food hall, sit down, and you’d just find someone with a choir shirt on from another choir … We’d end up singing songs while waiting for our supper.
“Those connections are about the individuals as much as they are about the music; music is a great binding thread throughout the LGBTIQ+ community.”
Wilden says she’s also excited to show off what a “beautiful city” Canberra is to all of her guests.
“We’re not the Canberra bubble, we’re not just full of politicians. We’re full of real people with everyday issues, the same as everyone else.
“Bringing a bit of that human face to Canberra, that’s something I’m very proud to do having been in Canberra all my life.”
This year, choirs from Fiji and East Timor will join the other seven choirs during the festivities for the first time after extensive fundraising efforts through Go Fund Me to cover their travel costs.
Wilden says bringing the Fijian and East Timorese choirs means everything to her, and that it’s a very satisfying and powerful thing for the Qwire to achieve.
“In Canberra we’re very lucky because we have an incredibly supportive community. We saw that through the marriage equality debate, and in so many other ways over the 26 years the choir has been in Canberra.
“Our community members in East Timor and Fiji don’t have that level of support, and they face persecution and intolerance that some of us have never experienced, so it means everything to bring them here to be a part of a supportive community.
“It’s very hard to get them out here, but very satisfying to know they’re going to get to experience the same support that we have every day.”
Out & Loud 2019 will comprise performances at a number of significant venues such as the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia across the four days.
“Being able to sing in Canberra’s iconic venues, we felt that was very important to showcase Canberra,” Wilden says.
The final performance will unite all of the choirs and festival-goers at the ticketed Gala Concert at Llewellyn Hall on Sunday 27 October 5pm.
It will feature a world premiere performance of a new composition by award-winning composer and musician, Sally Whitwell, along with performances by all of the participating choirs and a massed choral event.
“There’s a lot of variety and a lot of fantastic singing to be seen there,” Wilden says.
The 2019 Out and Loud choral festival will take place at various venues across Canberra on 24-28 October; outandloudcbr.org.au