November 9th, 2022Yandoit Cultural breathes life into church
YANDOIT’S historic Uniting church is getting set to host two vibrant concerts supporting good causes this month, under its new guise as the venue for Yandoit Cultural live events.
For the time being, the little 1875-built bushland church is in community hands
and being run as a community arts and culture space with locals keen to see the
arrangement become permanent.
Coming up, Sunday, November 13 at 4pm, the venue will host ARIA award winning folk musician Kavisha Mazzella with a benefit concert for Ukrainian refugees.
Singing in English and Italian, Mazzella promises to take her audience on an
uplifting journey of well-crafted stories and songs ringing with echoes of Celtic, Fado
and gypsy influences.
Then on Sunday, November 27 the church will again set the scene for a 4pm
concert, this time with Didgeridoo, Debussy and the Birds of Oz.
It will feature Claude Debussy’s wonderland dreamscapes Syrinx (1913) and the
Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp (1915), blended with contemporary Australian
compositions themed around connections to nature and each other.
Organisers say an added highlight will be the Yandoitian Birdbath – an audio
visual celebration of the area’s local birdlife featuring photography by Jodie Heap
accompanied by Debussy’s Prelude La fille aux cheveux de lin (The girl with the flaxen
hair) arranged for solo harp.
Acclaimed artists featured in the ensemble are Amos Roach, a proud Ngarrindjerri
and Djab Wurrung and Gunditj Mara man, on didgeridoo, Jacinta Dennett on harp,
Johanna Selleck on flute and William Vyvyan Murray on viola.
The reinvention of the church as a place of live cultural events comes as the
Uniting Church synod had been looking at selling it, along with other churches
where congregations have dwindled dramatically over the decades, and upkeep has
become an issue.
“Over the years we have been negotiating with the Castlemaine Uniting Church
parish and back in February we got the lease signed to keep this beautiful, historical
building in community hands,” Yandoit Cultural steering committee member Nikki
Marshall, a local for 11 years, said.
“This is an alternative, for the time being, to private sale, which has been the fate
of so many historical churches in our local area.”
She said the lease had been secured under the auspices of the Yandoit, Clydesdale
and Franklinford Community Planning Group, in a move driven by the community.
Nikki also said that one of the church’s stand-out features was its fantastic
“It has excellent acoustics, perfect for musical concerts and spoken word. The
raked floor makes for easy viewing and listening, and the stained glass windows
beautifully frame the surrounding eucalypts.
“We’ve had it for about six months now and in that time all of the musicians who
have played here have said the acoustics are just brilliant,” she says.
“It’s an intimate venue that can take about 100 to 120 people and we are keen to
have as much quality music, story and other cultural events between now and the end
of next November as we can.
“We are testing the waters and we are hoping we can make this beautiful place
zing. We would love to keep it on and we definitely have it until the end of next
November and after that we may well have a discussion with the Uniting Church
Bookings for the Sunday, November 13 concert are available on 0432 232 073 or
email@example.com, with entry by donation going to support Ukrainian refugees, and
Bookings for the Sunday, November 27 concert are via email firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone 0432 232 073 and entry is by donation in support of musicians who have
been hard hit by Covid.
Words: Eve Lamb | Image: Kyle Barnes