Students continue a sacred tradition

By Lachlan Durling

STUDENTS from St Joseph’s Rochester joined schools from around the district at St Mary’s Echuca last Wednesday for the 10th year of the biennial Festival of the Sacred.

The music spectacular saw almost 400 Grade 5 and 6 students from seven Catholic primary schools in the northern plains region come to town to perform as part of a choir.

For the past eight weeks students had been honing their performance skills at school and came together as a massed choir at Wednesday’s performance.

Event organiser and Catholic Education Office education officer for the arts Claire Spinelli said the Festival of the Sacred had something for everyone.

‘‘The repertoire for this year’s concerts include two high energy dance numbers and a variety of choral offerings, weaved together through short dramatic skits performed by the Grade 5 and 6 students of Sandhurst’s western deanery schools,’’ Claire said.

‘‘The concert has an Indigenous touch with Birrama Mana, sung by the mass choir, reminding the audience of the beauty of everyday Australia and the joy of coming home.

‘‘There are a few blasts from the past with old-school pop and Motown musical numbers interspersed among contemporary easy listening and theatrical fare.

‘‘True to our Catholic tradition, the finale massed choir item was Praise His Holy Name by Keith Hampson.’’

The festival is part of an arts strategy for the Sandhurst diocese that highlights the important partnership between Catholic Education Sandhurst and the Australian School of Performing Arts, who deliver high-quality performing arts experiences for young people throughout the country.

Ms Spinelli said this was the first of five Festivals of the Sacred taking place across the Sandhurst diocese this year, and if this one was anything to go by there were great things to come.

‘‘The thing that is the most exciting about this event is seeing the students’ engagement and just how excited they are,’’ she said. ‘‘Take Pyramid Hill students for example, to come from a small school to then be a part of an almost 400-strong choir they see how rewarding it is to be a part of a bigger group coming together.’’

Director of Catholic Education Sandhurst Paul Desmond said it was wonderful to attend the festival.

‘‘It’s fantastic to see music and singing becoming such an important part of the educational experience for these students, and to be able to provide something special for the kids to look forward to,’’ he said.