May 21, 2009
Melbourne has long been known as the cultural capital of our nation and home to an abundance of talented performers, musicians and artists. So when it came time to choose two faces to feature on the cover of the 2009/10 Melbourne White Pages® directory under this year’s theme Creative Australians: Inspiring Our Communities, Sensis was spoilt for choice.
Two iconic Melbournians stood out among the long list of nominees, chosen for their inspirational efforts in bringing music, diversity and hope into the community and truly encapsulating this year’s theme.
Appearing on the cover of the White Pages® Business & Government edition is the talented singer and community choir director, Jonathon Welch. For many years, Jonathon has been an influential member of the Australian arts community, performing with the Victoria State Opera and Opera Australia, before travelling the world to perform and conduct alongside many internationally acclaimed singers and choral groups.
When Jonathon returned to Australia, he was eager to use his wealth of knowledge to provide musical initiatives for those with limited opportunities to participate. This has seen Jonathon establish and direct some of Australia's finest community choirs, including the Sydney Street Choir and Melbourne’s own Choir of Hard Knocks.
The community choirs which Jonathon has helped establish often have members from marginalised backgrounds. Jonathon’s hope is that through singing, these people can find their voice in the community, while helping to raise awareness and dispel some of the misconceptions people may have about the less fortunate.
“The idea behind drawing these people together to form a choir is that the joy of music making in a group dynamic helps inspire a sense of purpose, structure and respect to their lives. These people, who may have previously felt like there was nothing to sing about due to their circumstances, can now feel accepted as part of a family. To see their spirits lift when they are singing is truly an inspirational sight,” Jonathon said.
In 2008 Jonathon was awarded the Australian of the Year: Local Hero, ANZAC of the Year, RMIT Communicator of the Year and received an Honorary Doctorate from Griffith University for his services to the community through music.
The Melbourne White Pages® Residential edition this year features Melbourne-based musician, Nicky Bomba, who has been a stalwart of the local music scene for over two decades. For many years, Nicky has supported refugee musicians, assisting them to develop their music skills and establish a career in music in their new found home.
Since 2004, Nicky has worked in partnership with Multicultural Arts Victoria as part of an innovative music mentorship program called ‘Visible’. The project gives a kick start to many newly arrived refugee and emerging artists as well as Indigenous and Pacific artists, connecting them with established musicians within the local industry. The program has a significant impact on the lives of participants creating new networks and helping them to develop professional music and business skills.
“No matter what country you come from, music is a language we all speak. Music bridges cultural divides and creates a stronger sense of community. We are extremely lucky to have such diversity within our society and I feel blessed to be able to work with such talented musicians and help them find their feet in Australia.” Nicky said.
As an established musician, Nicky has toured internationally and has released many albums working solo, with his many bands, as well as conducting the 30-piece Melbourne Ska Orchestra. Nicky regularly tours throughout the country, spending time with young aspiring musicians and imparting some of his musical wisdom through creative workshops.
Group Manager, White Pages®, Jane Blackley, said the theme Creative Australians: Inspiring our Communities provided Sensis with a great opportunity to recognise Australians who are helping to build stronger community relationships through their advocacy of the arts.
“Right across the country, there are people like Jonathon and Nicky making amazing contributions to their communities through the arts so this year we thought we would put the spotlight on them by featuring them on the cover of the Yellow Pages® and White Pages® directories.”
“Whether it’s performing, teaching, hosting exhibitions, raising money or administering arts programs, this year’s cover subjects are all dedicated to establishing ways for local people to become involved in the arts and to share and develop their creativity.”
“Jonathon and Nicky are fine examples of a creative Australians who, through a love of the arts, are helping to inspire others and foster art and culture in the local community,” Ms Blackley said.
Jonathon replaces Con Christopoulos on the cover of the White Pages® Business & Government edition, whilst Nicky replaces Stephanie Alexander on the cover of the Residential edition. Con and Stephanie were featured last year as part of the ‘Celebrating Australian Flavour’ theme.
With the 2009/10 White Pages® directory commencing distribution on Saturday 23 May 2009, Ms Blackley encouraged residents and businesses to recycle their old directories.
“In most areas, Yellow Pages® and White Pages® directories can be recycled as part of normal kerbside recycling services, but if people are unsure they can log onto www.recyclingnearyou.com.au to find out about recycling services available in their local area,” she said.