Our journey from hard knocks
The Choir of Hope and Inspiration (formerly known as the Choir of Hard Knocks) began rehearsing in September 2006 under the leadership of Founding Music Director, Dr Jonathon Welch AM. Jonathon established the Choir upon his return to Melbourne, having previously created the Sydney Street Choir in 2001. That choir still performs regularly, with Jonathon now as Patron.
Created specifically for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage, Jonathon’s original inspiration for creating such Choirs came from reading an article about the Montreal Homeless Men’s Choir whilst in Canada. Jonathon’s talent and passion for music, as a musician and professional Opera singer, his teaching work, and his tireless efforts in creating music projects for the indigent, and for the disadvantaged, have recently been recognised with an Order of Australia, and the award of Australian of the Year – Local Hero, in 2008.
The Choir has also been highly acclaimed and awarded for their hard work, talent and commitment since inception. The members are enormously proud of the Logie Award they received for the Most Outstanding Factual Documentary TV Series in 2007 (for the ABC ‘Choir of Hard Knocks’ documentary). The Choir has also received ARIA awards for Best TV Soundtrack, a Platinum ARIA award for their first CD “Songs from the TV Series” and a Gold ARIA award for their second CD “Songs of Hope and Inspiration”. The Choir were also very proud to receive a coveted Helpmann Award, for Most Outstanding Special Event, for their sell out concerts at the Sydney Opera House in 2007.
Now five years on, the Choir still rehearses every Wednesday. Most importantly, the ongoing and regular contact the Choir provides to the members has had a profound effect on their lives, leading many of the original 52 back to either part time or full time study or work.
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has cited the Choir as being one of the most outstanding social inclusion models in the last decade, further reinforcing the power of music and it’s ability to bring people together, give them confidence and pride, and the chance to find new structure and hope in their lives, above and beyond the basic welfare.
The Choir has also given members the opportunity to find new purpose in life. Many had become socially excluded due to their socio- economic circumstances, and the Choir has enabled them to acquire new skills and rebuild personal confidence. It has also created long lasting and ongoing friendships and relationships, and a unique opportunity for the Choir members to make a positive and enduring contribution back to the Community.
Today, the Choir of Hope & Inspiration is independently run under the auspice of Melbourne Street Choir Inc. The organisation has an outstanding Board at the helm, dedicated and talented staff who have been with the Choir since it’s creation in 2006, and a tireless “army” of volunteers (our Choir Angels).
Given the special and unique personal physical, medical and emotional needs of many of the Choir members, the level of governance and responsibility of the Choir is taken very seriously by Melbourne Street Choir Inc. We have taken great care to adopt “best practice” approaches and high levels of due diligence to protect the welfare of the members, volunteers and staff. We have established an extensive suite of procedures and policies, undertaken food handling and first aid training and accreditation and the Choirs are a member of ANCA (Australian National Choral Association) and covered by their Public Liability insurance protection.