Sanur grabbed my heart because I grew up in a small village in Australia. It was set on the coast, with beautiful beaches and a small but lively community, and like Sanur it was a community. One of the highlights of the year for we kids was singing carols on Christmas eve. We all used to sit on a flat truck with our legs dangling over the side singing our hearts out as we drove around that village. When I found out that every year the Bali Community choir goes around Bali singing Christmas carols, I felt that I had come home. I had found my family in this small choir here in Sanur.
That very choir was started by Musical Director, Brendan O’Donnell in 2009. He grew up in Melbourne, Australia and has been involved in music from a very young age. He has a music degree, and taught for many years in the music department at Melbourne Secondary College. He conducted for the famous ‘Sing Australia’ choir before moving to Bali. Like me, he fell in love with Bali and has retired here, but not from music! He wanted to start a community choir here in Sanur, and he did just that.
He says, “A choir is a delight because it gives many people a chance to sing. It offers fun and lifts the spirits. It also builds a community of people who over time grow to love and support each other. Certainly this choir in Sanur has done just that. Many friendships have grown over time. As its conductor I continue to do something that I love.”
In fact, a recent study conducted at Oxford University by psychology researcher, Jacques Launay, revealed that singing in a group, like at choir, improves mental health, happiness and wellbeing.
“It is beneficial in a number of ways” says Launay.
The study showed that singing together helps forge social bonds, it exercises the brain, improves breathing and posture, releases endorphins and can even help sustain a healthy immune system.
I know that when I return from choir practice every Tuesday I feel lifted. I hum the newly learned songs to myself and have a general feeling of wellbeing.
The choir of about 40 people attracts members from a wide variety of backgrounds. They come from varied ethnic, work and religious groups. It has a fairly even balance of local and expat members, and the balance between male and female members ensures a lovely harmony. The choir’s repertoire includes Broadway musicals, folk music, popular songs, and sacred songs and of course love songs. We spent a lovely afternoon for Valentines at a member’s place sharing food and singing only the love songs from our repertoire. Great fun.
The choir has been involved in many public performances, including the Christmas carols every December, the ANZAC service at the Australian consulate and of course our yearly concert. We also sang at the Commemorative Service at GWK Park to honour the memory of those that were killed in the Bali bombings.
Continued presence at this important service for the Australian and New Zealand people of this island. This was how I found out about the choir. I attended an Anzac service about four years ago, and was really impressed with the choir’s performance. So after the service I approached a member to ask for the particulars about the choir. Since then she and her husband have become good friends of mine. Another thing choirs do, build friendships!
We meet weekly on Tuesdays at SMK 3, Jalan Tirta Nadi, Sanur. We sing from 7pm until 9pm.
Brendan: 081353120682 (English)
Miko: 085643424628 (Indonesian)
A weekly donation of RP20.000 helps pay for the hall, the pianist and music sheets. If however, you cannot afford that, please don’t let it keep you from joining us... There are no auditions and we welcome everyone along.
When I asked Brendan why he choose Sanur for the choir. He said, “This is my home, it’s where I live.” Yes, where we live, our home, our community, our choir here in Sanur.
This year our concert is to be held at SMK3 on Saturday the 15th June, 2019. However, this year we are combining with the Voice of Bali, a dynamic choir conducted by Pak Joseph Sulaksana and originating from Denpasar. The theme for the night is Bali in Harmony. Entry is RP20.000 for children and 50.000 for adults. Do come along! The night promises to be spectacular!
Written by Larraine Duncan