On a holy night, singers can live “in the joy of the moment”


Backing vocalist Fiona Waters' polo list of her singing years at <i>Carols By Candlelight</i>.  She played last year virtually, so there is a

Backing vocalist Fiona Waters’ polo list of her singing years at Candlelight songs. She performed last year virtually, so there is a “v” after 2020.Credit:Fiona Waters

Due to COVID-related restrictions, she has sometimes been unable to visit her 94-year-old mother, who also suffers from dementia and lives in a nursing home.

Ms Waters, who has chronic fibromyalgia which causes weakness in her spine and numbness in her legs, said while singing to songs is “a liberation”.

“It’s a way for me to step away from normal life and just live in the joy of the moment, and rejoice with everyone on the finer things in life.”

Another joy is his friendship with 50-year-old Di Sleeman. They bonded in 2002 by singing side by side in the soprano section during Ms. Sleeman’s first year in the choir.

They discovered that they were both professional nannies, that they were Christians and that they loved to sing.

Now as two of the oldest songs choir members, the pair hold choir member polo shirts that are embroidered with the years that each person has been in the choir.

In 2020, a small number of backing singers performed, without a live audience, at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, while others performed via video.Credit:New

They talk about the past songs when it was raining heavily and the audience started to leave, when it was so hot that the pianist would collapse for Silent night, and the alarming hour when the spiders fell from the ceiling of the Bowl.

Sometimes after songs finished, they don’t leave the Bowl until midnight. Often the members of the choir sing We wish you a Merry Christmas on the bus to their car in another suburb, and go to McDonald’s to relax.

Ms Sleeman’s challenges during the pandemic have included home schooling the two children she feeds, while their parents work at home, cannot visit relatives and friends, and cannot go home. train for several choirs in which she is part.

Friends Di Sleeman, left, and Fiona Waters in choir <i>Carols By Candlelight</i> 2016

Friends Di Sleeman, left, and Fiona Waters in 2016 Candlelight songs choral

Last year, Ms. Sleeman was one of 48 backing singers who sang at the Bowl for songs – without an audience – while other singers, including Ms Waters, who was ill, appeared on video screens from their homes.

Ms Sleeman said it felt good to be back at the Bowl, “to know that we can come together at the end of the year as a choir, uplift people and bring that Christmas cheer and sing our songs. heart Singing is absolutely healing.

Fiona Waters and Di Sleeman at the Bowl, happy to do it again <i>Carols</i>.

Fiona Waters and Di Sleeman at the Bowl, delighted to do songs again.Credit:Chris hopkins

She still gets goosebumps when the music starts and the choir rises, and is sometimes moved to tears.

“Do people look at me and say, ‘Are you okay, Di’? I go, ‘this is so beautiful’.

Vision Australia chants by candlelight will screen on Channel Nine from 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve and replay at 1 p.m. on Christmas Day. Tickets for Sidney Myer Music Bowl are still available.

About Mildred B.

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