Blackheath Choir Festival 2020

21st – 23rd August 2020 – The Blackheath Choir Festival – or otherwise know as the

“The friendliest choir festival in the world!”logo-on-black-2020

is on again this year! So put the date in your diary!

It also has a new website where you can register your choir or find out more information. Please visit


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happy new year

After an interesting and intense Christmas and holiday break due to the fires…The Heathens are keen to start the new year filled with rejuvenative music and song! Term 1 starts today and we welcome any new comers and looking forward to getting together with old friends.

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Last concert for 2019

golf club poster

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Enjoy the spirit of Christmas…

Join The Heathens & the Blue Mountains City RSL Band on December 8th at 2.30pm at St Hilda’s Church, Katoomba Street, Katoomba for their annual Christmas concert!

Tickets at the door – $10 for adults and children are free. All proceeds are donated to the Blue Mountains refugee Support Group.BMRSG christmas concert poster(V3)

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Heathens feature in Blue Mountains Gazette

Our 10th anniversary celebrations on June 5 were featured in an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette issue of June 14 2019.

The celebration was full of fun and frivolity and fabulous food. Who knew we had so much talent – both musical and culinary? Or that we loved getting into costume? Many a wardrobe and bargain discount shop was raided to satisfy our inner dressing-up desires.

You can read the full article and see pictures of the performers here.

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Celebrating 10 YEARS!

10 years

2019 marks the 10th year that The Heathens have been singing together under the direction of Chris Wheeler and we will be celebrating all year by re-visiting old songs and learning new songs to share with our wonderful community. We have grown from a small group of 10 to a healthy choir of 50 plus in the last 10 years and look forward to welcoming any new comers who are thinking of joining this year.

Term 1 starts on Wednesday January 30!

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Party Time!

2018 was another great year for The Heathens – learning new songs and performing at different venues and lots of great times spent together. Thank you Chris for your ever-gracious patience and your expertise in getting 50 people to sound good! Thanks to Mick for your support and for all the behind-the-scenes work that has to be done to get 50 people to turn up with the right music!

See you in 2019!

Here are some photos of the Heathens hamming it up at their Christmas Party – thanks to Hilary and John for the photos!


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Celebrating Christmas

The Heathens are celebrating Christmas this year with two concerts! They will be very different but with the same message…PEACE and UNITY. See below for details for both and we hope you can join us!

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Daffodils at Rydal

daffodilsJoin us at Rydal to celebrate Spring!  Thousands of daffodils have been planted in the parks and gardens of Rydal, just west of the Blue Mountains. Daffodils at Rydal 2018 will take place over the two weekends of 8/9 September and 15/16 September. $10 entry takes you to all the gardens.

Click here to download the brochure

The Heathens will be part of the entertainment and will be on stage at 12.30pm on Sunday 9th September.

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Did you know that singing triggers memory?

We all know the wonderful benefits of singing – especially with others…but did you know that it can trigger memories in those who struggle to remember? This is a very interesting article……/10106328


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Here we are at term 3 already! And we are gearing up for the 2018 Blackheath Choir Festival in August. Can hardly wait to mingle with all those other choristers from around NSW. Visit the website for more info and how to book! choir fest

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Spooky Success!

Thank you to the Blue Mountains community who came out in the freezing cold weather last Sunday to see and listen to the fabulous Spooky Men Chorale. The Heathens felt very privileged to be the support act to these great performers. It was a sell out crowd that filled the Blackheath Community Hall and all proceeds were donated to a most worthy cause – The Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. Thanks must also go to the organisers, the cake makers, the sound guys and everyone who came – it was a great success. Photos below are thanks to Diane Green.

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The Spooky Men Are Back in Town!

2pm Sunday 17th June 2018 – Blackheath Community HallJpeg of Flyer

For a stupendous Sunday afternoon’s entertainment, come to this concert hosted by The Heathens community choir and featuring the Spooky Men’s Chorale.  The Spooky Men have a CV as long as your arm – they have appeared at our National Folk Festival, festivals all over Europe, the UK and NZ, made guest appearances on Spicks and Specks, the New Inventors’ Grand Final and The Mix.

You will leave feeling uplifted and full of goodwill, having laughed and cried as The Spooky Men swing between wonderful songs of ridiculous hilarity and songs of great tenderness, shimmeringly perfect and human in a very resonant way.

The afternoon’s music kicks off with the passion and enthusiasm of The Heathens – Blackheath’s own community choir. Afternoon tea (homemade) will be available at 4pm when the concert concludes.

This concert marks the beginning of Refugee Week. All proceeds will go to support the wonderful work of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group.



26TH – 27TH MAY

The Heathens will kick off this terrific weekend at 11.00am on Saturday 26th with a repertoire of  locomotive songs! Come and join in the fun – there will be something for everyone – young and old. For full information on what is on offer over the weekend visit the website



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Term 2

Term 2 has begun and we are busy rehearsing for the first of three performances this term. First up is Blackheath Day on Saturday 12 May. Come and celebrate this beautiful town we live in and listen to us sing!blackheath day

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Happy new year everyone and a big welcome to those who have decided to join The Heathens this year. Term 1 starts on Wednesday 31 January and here is a reminder about the fee arrangements…Fees are $75 per term and can be paid within the first 3 weeks.  Payment can be made on-line or cash – just see Kerry when you arrive on Wednesday if you need any assistance.

Looking forward to another great year of singing!


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Happy Christmas 2017!

It was a fabulous way to end our year, joining The Blue Mountains City Band and conducted by Paul Terracini for a wonderful Christmas concert. Here are some photos taken by Aidan Grilli (lovely partner to our Bridget). Thank you Aidan – and thank you to those who came to listen and contributed to supporting the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. Happy Christmas everyone! See you in the New Year!

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Christmas Concert

The Heathens are singing with The Blue Mountains City Band and conducted by Paul Terracini on Sunday 10th December at St Hilda’s Anglican Church in Katoomba. All are welcome – a gold coin donation which will be donated to the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. Hope to see you there!Christmas Concert 2017

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Protesting Grandmother

Fellow Heathen and Green’s campaigner, Susie Rix is currently protesting in North Queensland against the Adani mine and sent this photo…Good on you Susie! We are so proud of you!


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Music Moved Mountains

I think we moved some mountains last Saturday at our concert with three other choirs from the mountains – The Moo Choir from Warrimoo; The Mudlarks from Faulconbridge and Vocal Edge from Blackheath. We filled the church with 200 people – so thank you everyone who came along and listened to us sing! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did and that you may have been moved to join a choir!

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Singing in the gardens

Thank you to everyone who came and listened to us sing in the Waldorf Gardens at the Leura Garden Festival. We loved singing under the big tree! Thanks to Maxine for the photos.

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Upcoming concerts

Term 4 is GIG time! We have seven concerts to perform in and we are so excited to be part of each and every on of them. First up is The Leura Garden Festival. Join us at 1.00pm at The Waldorf Gardens in Leura on Monday 2 Oct AND Wednesday 5 Oct.

And on Saturday 28th October we will be joined by three other Blue Mountains choirs – Vocal Edge, The Mudlarks and The Moo choir celebrating the community spirit that spreads up and down our mountain. See below for details.

28 OCT CONCERT A4 poster final 7 Sept

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Thank You

UPDATE!  Hi everyone. I wanted to share the wonderful news that today I am sending off  a donation of $3665 to the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group being the net proceeds from last Sunday’s Shelter event. Much credit goes to you who came up with the idea of doing a concert in the first place and for reaching out to others in the Community choir world. As we say in Yiddish,  Mazal Tov – Congratulations all round! Anne Spira, Sydney Jewish Choral Society.

Hi all.

I hope that by now you have arrived back home safely and are relaxing after the intensity of our day. We are all delighted with the outcome of the concert.  We all worked hard and created a warm vibe this afternoon and it was immensely satisfying to collaborate musically for a great cause. It was a pleasure to get to meet you all and I hope we can get to sing together again before too long. Ann Spira, Sydney Jewish Choral Society.

“I want to say a big thank you to Susie and  Cathy for the wonderful job they did toward making our Shelter concert such a huge success on Sunday. To Chris thank you for your patience and perseverance. Hopefully our joyful and enthusiastic singing covered any little glitches that occurred during our set. Not forgetting Kathy, thank you for helping us along the way while Chris was on holidays. Jan Cutler

And…thank you Jan for bringing cakes and biscuits for all of us!

And…THANK YOU to The Sydney Jewish Choral Society for hosting the event and welcoming us so warmly and to everyone who came.

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Shelter Concert

We have been rehearsing hard over the last few weeks for our concert in Sydney with the Sydney Jewish Choir and we are looking forward to it! Not only will you hear some wonderful voices, you will hear from a trio of fine musicians and a beautiful piece of artwork will be auctioned. All money raised will be donated to the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group.Copy of Blue Music Notes Festival Flyer

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Welcome back Chris & Mick!

Welcome home to cold Blackheath Chris & Mick! We are looking forward to hearing all your news!

And this is from Deb to help any of us having trouble making sense of rhythmic notation in printed music, then this might just help a little!

rhythm demonstration

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Term 3

Hope everyone has had a great break. Rehearsals resume on Wednesday 19th July and a reminder that the term fee of $75 is due.

We will only have 4 weeks to rehearse for our upcoming concert – SHELTER! A concert we are performing with the Sydney Jewish Choir in support of refugees in Australia. See below for details.

Copy of Blue Music Notes Festival Flyer

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Chris & Mick’s Grand Tour!

Here are some pics Mick has sent from the Italian part of their holiday. They are currently in France and hopefully will send more. Don’t they look fabulous…and warm!

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Happy Birthday…and THANK YOU!

We celebrated another milestone birthday this week…for Jan. Jan is the cornerstone of The Heathens with her forever smiling face and positive outlook on life. Not to mention the wonderful cakes and slices she brings to choir rehearsal every week. Happy Birthday Jan! Here is her lovely response to the party yesterday…

To all my co-Heathens – A huge thank you for giving me such a wonderful birthday celebration yesterday – totally unexpected but so totally appreciated. Beautiful friendships made and such a happy space for all of us to  enjoy  singing together each week. The Heathens are very special – long may we make beautiful music together – so good for the soul.

Friendship and love to all, Jan


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An Inspiration!

You might have seen our Judy walking very briskly around Blackheath over the last few months. Well that is because she was training for the 2017 Australian Masters Athletics Championships in Darwin where she competes in the 1500, 5000 metres and the 10km Race Walking. Judy has won many medals over the years so we wish her luck this week! Judy – you are inspiration to us all!judy007

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Welcome Kathy

As we say Bon voyage to Chris & Mick as they fly their way to Europe for a well-deserved holiday for 7 weeks – we also say a big welcome to Kathy Ferguson who will be leading us Heathens in rehearsal in Chris’s absence. We are really looking forward to singing with you and learning from you Kathy!

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Happy 90th Birthday Harry!

Once described by Leo Schofield as a ‘latter-day Great Gatsby’, Harry Douglas has always embraced life with gusto. This month he celebrates his 90th birthday and it will be in style if Harry has anything to do with it. Happy Birthday to our oldest member from all of us Heathens! Congratulations Harry!harry cropped

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Vera’s book in Budapest!

Welcome bred danube_covnew_finalnew4 6 octack to Vera from her trip home to Hungary with the exciting news that her memoir – Red Danube – is now sitting on shelves in bookshops in Budapest! Congratulations!

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Blackheath Day

The Heathens will be singing on Blackheath Day this Saturday 13th May – as well as other choirs and musicians. Come along and join the fun!


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Happy Birthday!

This week we celebrated the youngest members of our choir birthday. Twins Bridget and Chloe turned 21 – and we had champagne & cake!twins

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Music Notations


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Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year everyone and a big warm welcome to any new members who are starting with us today. Yes – choir resumes today and we are looking forward to learning some new songs and revisiting some older ones. Just a reminder that the fees have increased slightly this year and it is now $75 per term which is payable within the first 3 weeks of a new term. If you know that you will be away for any length of time – please let Rita or Kerrie know and they will work out a pro-rata rate for you.

Really looking forward to another year of singing with The Heathens…singing-people

and other than the great friendships to be had … did you know there were health benefits associated with singing in a choir…gotta love that!singing-benefits

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In Dulci Jubilo

In dulci jubilo! Come along and enjoy some sweet and joyous music that you won’t hear in any shopping centre. This special Christmas concert will be the second time The Blue Mountains City Band and The Heathens Choir have performed together and this year the Katoomba Public School Band and the Blue Mountains City RSL Band will join them, under the direction of Volker Schoeler, to bring a shared love of making music at an artistic high level. The concert will feature traditional carols from around the world – some that are centuries old – celebrating the spirit of Christmas.

The concert will be held on Sunday 11th December at 2.30pm at St Hilda’s Anglican Church, Katoomba St. Katoomba. Entry is a gold coin donated to the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. This is our Blue Mountains community spirit at its best and all are welcome.

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Blackheath Rhodo Day 2016

We were in full voice and sang our hearts out to a great audience at the Blackheath Rhodo Day. Thanks to everyone who came to listen. Here are a few pics taken by Philia Portelli – thanks Philia!


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Leura Garden Festival

The sun shone and the wind calmed down a bit for us to sing for the folks at the Waldorf Gardens in Leura. Thanks Philia for the great photos!

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Dates to remember

Just a reminder to have a look at the Upcoming Events on the right hand side of the page for all our upcoming performances.

Wed 12 October is choir as normal and on Wed 19th October Deb will hold a workshop at our usual time. Then we will have a break from choir for two weeks – so no choir on 26th October and the 3rd November.

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Spring has sprung!

Spring is in the air here in Blackheath and it certainly has arrived in Chris and Mick’s garden. The magnolia tree we gave Chris last year to say thank you for all her hard work, has blossomed. Here is a picture. We are also looking forward to singing in the beautiful gardens at Chapel House in Rydal again!magnolia


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What a great festival weekend

Thank you to the organisers of the 2016 Blackheath Choir festival. It was bigger and better and created a fabulous vibe around town.

And a personal thanks to our fabulous choir director – Chris Wheeler – whose amazing energy, talent and confidence inspires us to sing our best and have fun doing it. Thank you xx.


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Blackheath Choir Festival 2016

Practising…practising…and getting very excited about this fabulous festival coming to our town.

choir festival

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Hey Heathens – check out the link below to see the restorative powers of group singing!

Sing with others. Group singing has been proven to release “happy hormones”. It is also a natural antidote to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Sing shamelessly. When you sing out loud, musical vibrations move through you. Singing produces satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the voice is of average quality.

Stay focused. Group singing requires complete attention on breathing and vocal activation. A good choral workout can be as effective as a group-led meditation.

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3 choirs offbeat a success!

It was a terrific night of fun and singing with all 3 choirs and Canon Fodder. A big THANKS must go to Tim Kaye for organising yet another great night and to everyone who volunteered to help put this annual fund raising night together. It was great to see everyone dress up and get into to theme of OFFBEAT. Well done everybody!

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A fun evening of music & trivia

Get ready for another fun night of singing and quizzing on Friday 10th June. Featuring The Heathens, Phoenix & Vocal Edge with a special appearance by Canon Fodder.Flyer 2016 Offbeat

Tickets go on sale at 9.00am on 24 May 2016. Get a table of 8 people together and book early! Tickets are $18 per person and will be available on-line at or you can buy them at your next choir rehearsal.

This years theme is OFF BEAT! Which can mean many things – so use your imagination, and dress up your table to win a prize! BYO food & drink. Lots of great prizes to be won!

More details will be supplied soon at your next choir rehearsal.

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“Practicing Choral Music: Ten ideas for the singer who doesn’t think they can practice on their own”

We know Chris reminds us to practise between rehearsals…and perhaps some do! Here are some tips for those of us who don’t…or find it hard to do…

Congratulations! You’ve now been told for the millionth time to practice your music for your next choir rehearsal. But if you are someone who hears that and thinks, “I don’t play piano. I can’t do this without someone helping me,” here are some ways you can practice on your own and improve your singing.

Grab your music and a pencil. Many of these steps can be done in a public place. No need to head to the practice room (stop using that as an excuse).

  1. Start with the text. Make sure you know what you are singing. Think about the text. Find a translation if it is in another language. Write the poetic translation above/below the lyrics. If you want to go deeper, use a translation site to translate word for word (especially if there’s a word that you sing over and over again. You should know what that specific word means). Do you know who wrote the lyrics and why? Can you put the piece into historical context?
  2. Listen to a recording. We live in a time of unbelievable access to recordings. Find them. Listen to more than one recording and compare them until you find one or two you really like. Follow along with your score. Listen while paying attention to all of the parts. Listen while paying attention to just your part.
  3. Analyze your music. How is the piece organized? Does it have sections? Are there repeated parts? Does your part occur in another voice part? Are there key changes or meter changes? Is there a repeat sign/first and second ending/coda? How would you describe the organization of this piece to someone who has never heard it?
  4. Find your starting pitches. For every entrance you have, figure out how you are going to find the starting pitch. Maybe another voice part just sang the note. Maybe it was just in the accompaniment. Do you know what note of the chord it is (e.g. I’m singing the root of this chord)? There is nothing worse than “sheep singing” (blindly following what the person next to you is singing). Take responsibility for being able to enter on your own.
  5. Don’t just sing through the parts you already know. You’ll be wasting your practice time. Identify problem areas, analyze why you’re having a problem with that spot, figure out ways to solve the problem area.
  6. Solve the problem area. Break it down to something you CAN do. Then add something to it. Practice with repetition, but only if you’re sure you’re doing it right! Start with just the pitches slowly (dare I say on solfege syllables?). Then add the rhythm to the pitches. Next, add in the lyrics. Make sure you slow down the tempo the each time you add another layer. No need to practice with dynamics, articulations, and breaths until you have mastered pitches, rhythms, and lyrics.
  7. Work backwards to forwards. How many times have you felt great about the beginning of a piece, but completely unsure of the ending? During your own practice time, work on the ending section and progressively add sections, each time going through to the end. If you think of your piece as “ABCDE,” practice E, then DE, then CDE, then BCDE, and ABCDE.
  8. Audiate your part. Sing your part through in your head. Do this while you are walking somewhere. Do this in your car while you’re waiting for someone. Do this before you go to sleep. Do this ALL OF THE TIME. (Friendly reminder: Audiating is virtually impossible if there is other music playing. Carve out some quiet time in your life.)
  9. Use your pencil. Mark your score while you’re in rehearsal so you remember what was giving you problems. This will save you time when you plan out your next practice session.
  10. Just practice. 99% of the time I don’t want to practice. No one does. But 99% of the time, once I start practicing, I get stuff done. I stop when I lose focus or I run out of time. I NEVER regret spending a little time practicing something. Do yourself a favor and make it part of your daily routine.

You have the ability to do these ten things. Do them. You will reap the benefits of being more confident with your part, which will allow you to contribute to the ensemble in a more meaningful way. And your own vocal technique will improve, because you’ll be able to concentrate on how you sound instead of always worrying about how your part goes. You’ve got this.

-Doreen Fryling (lifelong practice avoider)

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Heathens 2016

We are growing somewhat! Here is a photo of us all with some of our new members.  Thank you Tara for taking the photo…and Happy 21st Birthday to Bella – and for giving us the photo opportunity.

choir 2016   bella birthday

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Happy New Year! The Heathens are back and Chris has worked hard over the break bringing us wonderful new songs to sing. We welcome our new choir members and really look forward to singing and performing with you all as the year unfolds. happiness

For any new members…we still have copies of our little book which features some members of the choir and gives a little background. Cost is only $5.00 – see Victoria at rehearsals.cover front

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2015 ends with a bang!

Or should I say A BAND! Our final concert of the year with The Blue Mountains City Band was a blast! Thank you to everyone who came and listened and we are proud to announce that we raised over $800 for The Blue Mountains Refugee Group – so thank you! Here are some photos of the afternoon (taken by Paul Burrows).

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Upcoming Performances

We are gearing up and rehearsing like mad for our upcoming performances this month! We hope to see you at The Folk Club at the Ivanhoe Hotel in Blackheath on Thursday 3rd Dec at 7.30pm...and we are very excited to be joining The Blue Mountains City Band on Sunday 13th Dec at St Hilda’s Church, Katoomba for a great Christmas Concert (one without carols!). We will be singing songs from around the world in the spirit of Christmas and all proceeds will be donated to The Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group.

We hope to see you there!

city band concert new hi res REV

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