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Sydney just got its first Flash Mob Choir – and it's glorious

Written by
Dee Jefferson

This morning – Friday February 3 – Time Out was among 700-or-so punters filing into the City Recital Hall in Angel Place at 8am – for the first ever Sydney Flash Mob Choir.

Organised by City Recital Hall in collaboration with renowned conductor and singing advocate Richard Gill, Sydney Flash Mob Choir is a semi-regular event open to anyone – regardless of vocal talent – and welcomes everyone.

Sydneysiders can register to take part via the CRH website, and will then receive an SMS two days before each Flash Mob Choir event, telling them where and when to be. Once there, lyrics for that day's song will be distributed, and Gill will take the participants through a brief rehearsal, before running through the piece one full time – at which point the event finishes and the crowd disperses. The whole thing is designed to take about 40 minutes.

Conductor Richard Gill leading the Sydney Flash Mob Choir.
Photograph: Simon Bernhardt

For the first Sydney Flash Mob Choir event, the chosen song was Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive', which the 700-or-so punters sung with appropriate gusto. "You can tell when people are singing if they're having a good time," Gill says afterwards, "and [the crowd this morning] was having a good time; they were laughing. And when people laugh and are relaxed, they sing really well!"

They did, and the experience was in fact kinda euphoric. People left the Hall beaming.

The idea for the choir came from City Recital Hall CEO Elaine Chia, who was looking for a way to make the venue more accessible for Sydneysiders. "I was really keen to have an activity that made it easy for people to come to the Hall without having to buy a ticket that they might not be able to afford. I also wanted to break down the notion that this place only does classical music."

Chia's first call was to Gill, who she knew from her early career years working with Australian Youth Orchestra and the Conservatorium of Music. "As I picked up the phone I was thinking 'If Richard doesn't do this, I don't know if we CAN do this!' And then he said 'Elaine, great – let's do this.'"

Photograph: Simon Bernhardt

Gill's passion for music education and singing is longstanding and well known. As he puts it, "[When people sing] the endorphins go crazy – it's like exercise – and that makes people feel happy and good."

Chia and her team have been amazed by the response to Flash Mob Choir already, with more than 3000 people signing up to be part of the event within a few days of the call-out going on Facebook: "We thought we'd get 500 registrations," she laughs.

The date and location for the next Sydney Flash Mob Choir event is TBC, but it is likely to be at the City Recital Hall again – although outdoor events are being contemplated for the future, depending on logistics, availability and the size of the choir.

Sign up to receive the next event notification at the City Recital Hall website.

Like singing in welcoming environments where drop ins are encouraged and pop is on the menu? You might wanna check out The Welcome Choir in Newtown, who meet weekly.

More of a show-pony? Check out our guide to the best karaoke in Sydney.

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