Big Voice 2021

Expect the unexpected!

Janet’s Manifesto

We all know it has been a time of huge change – people have been locked down and watching a lot of interesting and challenging stuff unfold – Brexit, Trump, Covid, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, gender politics, a phenomenon known as “cancel culture”, and tons more. The pandemic has certainly focussed the collective mind about the current global order, and we have been plonked into a new world – we are all in it, but are we all in it together? How are we going thrive in the future, how can we better collaborate as one human race, on one planet?

Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to get more involved in social change, to be more engaged with what is going on around me, and in the big wide world. I really want to talk about it all. I’ve never been particularly political, but something is biting at my ankles, and it won’t let go.

So I thought about marrying the choir/singing work that I’ve been doing for years with some kind of active engagement and it seems logical and exciting to me to start… a TalkingChoir, a Singing Newspaper, a Street Choir Gang for the Disobedient Amateur!

God knows I’ve started enough choirs in my life – in many places, for many reasons. But this time I want to create something different, something more feisty and resilient, imaginative and creative. In my research I came across a choir in the UK led by old Punk Rocker Boff Whalley – it’s called the Commoners Choir (who say on their website that they are a “strange yet open and inclusive choir….who come from all over the place and try to act more like a band or a gang than a choir. We sing our own songs about the world immediately around us, about inequality, hope, and Tory politicians.”)

I love the image of choir as a gang! albeit a pretty benign and friendly one, In a way, choirs do function similarly to gangs in that they have the power to radically transform lives – they really can be powerful communities and my ambition is to build a vocal gang of people who are looking for the same thing – a chance to talk and a chance to act, singing the stuff we want and need to talk about, reaching out of our paradise bubble that is the Byron Shire, making a bit of bloody noise! Singing about every day life – from the condition of the river to local stories to what’s in the paper this week. Big Voice is a powerful talking community, and much more.

It’s not about pushing a single agenda – it’s not a political choir as such – I don’t think… it’s about talking together, reaching some kind of easy or difficult consensus – getting to a point where everyone can sing the song with, at the very least, a degree of knowledge and understanding, and at the very most, conviction.

If this idea floats your boat, get in touch! We rehearse on Mondays 5.30 to 7pm at the Sound Shell in Brunswick Heads. It is an auditioned choir – you do need to have experience singing, and be willing to practice in between rehearsals.You also probably need to expect the unexpected.

All the details…

Tuesdays 5.30pm to 7.30pm 

Term 2: April 20 to June 8 (8 weeks)

(6 week break)

Term 3: July 20 to September 7( 8weeks)

CONCERT: Be Longing – 17/18 September

Term 4: October 19 to December 7

Venue: Summer: Sound Shell Brunswick Heads  

            Winter: Ocean Shores Country Club

8 week terms x 4 per year

Cost: $160/$140 per term payable in cash or online via

 Musical Direction – Janet Swain (0438965397)

Assistant – Elyjah McLeod

Admin – Wendy Mahoney 

What you can expect…

  1. Fast and challenging rehearsals
  2. Songs that are interesting/beautiful/worthy of a good talk
  3. Music and lyrics provided by Janet in digital form. You can use your iPad in
    rehearsals, or print out the music at home before rehearsals.
  4. Please record your parts on your phone each week and listen to them during the
  5. Some kind of performance at the end of each term – sometimes they’ll be small,
    sometimes ambitious – they may be a short tour on a weekend.
  6. Once a year we will go on a retreat somewhere fabulous, probably in the winter.
  7. Please pay fees at the beginning of each term, or discuss payment with Janet.

What you might not expect…

  1. Singing in interesting places.
  2. Special guests coming to work with us on songs or ideas.
  3. I like to work fast and I like to be creative – and I love it when people are willing to try new things… If I am working too fast, or you don’t understand something, please come and talk to me!