Joel's vocal group doesn't have a proper name yet. They don't wear a uniform: "performance black and grey" is the dress code, which can mean anything from a white shirt, a black miniskirt, a grey cardigan, a pretty brown dress with a hint of white petticoat. They have only just learned to bow properly, together, and have almost stopped messing with their hair between songs. Some are tall; and some are short.
For all that, their sound is warm and close: perfect for a capella traditions and competitions.
Last week they competed in the Get Vocal competition for school groups as part of a six day festival of concerts, workshops and competitions. They won their small division on Wednesday and last night were invited to perform at one of the closing night conferences.
First up was the group (from a school in the Yarra Valley: a most beautiful place) that placed first in the larger contest, and second in the division that our lot won. A bigger group, possibly slightly older, and looking for all the world as if, with the lighting and sound production of Glee, they would be contenders for television. Their act was choreographed and dramatic, and featured a Glee style mash-up, arranged by one of the boys, of "Crazy" and "Rolling in the Deep." The boys wore black suits, the girls wore black cocktail dresses, high heels, make-up, and white ribbons in their pretty spiffy hairstyles. Gorgeous to see. They did that Glee-style walking around, singing to each other business. They closed in a triangle formation and one of them courteously thanked their teacher and families, the concert and festival organisers. They sang about five songs. Some of their solos were very good indeed, and they rightly received rapturous applause.
The MC also raved about them, and expressed some surprise that they were beaten in one of the divisions. In spite of his disbelief, he nevertheless introduced the Princes Hill group.
They walk on. They are smaller, less formally dressed, less polished behind their mikes. But they open their mouths, and when they get to their first long sustained harmonic chord, you can hear the warmth and closeness of their sound, something that wasn't as evident in the other group.
They sing only two songs. I spent several hours last night trying to move a 7 minute video from my iphone to my computer, on outdated software. I'm only posting the first song, as the second they are working up for another competition in Mt Gambier in a few weeks. But here they are, with apologies for sound quality, and with shaky camera action stilled by YouTube. It's just a phone. Click through to full screen to see all seven of them.