Senate debates

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Statements by Senators

Bagdad Community Singers

1:30 pm

Photo of Wendy AskewWendy Askew (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today with a tinge of sadness to pay tribute to the Bagdad Community Singers, a community choir that has spread song throughout southern Tasmania for almost 30 years. The group started as an idea of Chris Fehlberg, who called a public meeting in the southern Tasmanian town of Bagdad in 1994 to assess community interest in forming a singing group. By the following year, the Bagdad Singers had performed songs, skits and stand-up comedy at multiple venues across Tasmania. This included performances at the Bagdad Music Hall, which became the group's meeting location.

As their conductor for 19 years, Chris steered the group of up to 30 performers to musicality. Nobody needed to an audition to join and many couldn't read music, but their enthusiasm and Chris's direction meant that learn to sing in well-balanced four-part harmony. As quoted in the April edition of BagdadNews, one member, Kay Harmon, said the Bagdad singers' strong male section was the envy of many other community choirs.

When Chris moved to Melbourne, musician and choir director Roslyn Langlois took up the baton. The choir welcomed and embraced a new name: Bagdad Community Singers. Under new leadership, the choir retained its favourite songs and added to its repertoire. Kay commented that 'for six years, Roslyn strove to make us the best we could be'. The COVID pandemic and the aged-care facility lockdowns, coupled with Roslyn's developing Parkinson's disease and the loss of their rehearsal venue, meant that the Bagdad Community Singers had to reinvent itself. The choir to practising in a local gym, and long-term members Nathan and Marilyn shared management and conducting duties over the past few years. But the choir's numbers have dwindled, and the group recently announced that it has sung its final note. Members credit the choir with not only learning to sing and harmonise but also discovering new Tasmanian venues and making lasting friendships.

Thank you to each and every one of the Bagdad Community Singers, who entertained audiences at venues throughout Tasmania during the past three decades. Your melodies will be cherished for a long time to come.