One of Hobart’s notable mid-year events—the Festival of Voices—will this year host its iconic Big Sing virtually, in an effort to bring some winter cheer to Tasmanians. The event will be held on the first Friday evening in July.

The Festival—now in its sixteenth year—previously welcomed thousands of visiting and local singers, choirs and families to gather ceremoniously around an enormous bonfire to sing a chosen tune as one. This year however the tradition known warmly as the Big Sing was cancelled due to the threat of coronavirus and the restrictions placed on mass gatherings. In the past, the Big Sing has attracted crowds of up to five thousand people at Salamanca.

 Instead, event organisers with the help of Festival friends, including singers, choristers, musicians, technicians and broadcasters will present the Big Sing(along) as an online and media even, which they hope Tasmanians will embrace during the chill of winter.

Festival Marketing Manager Jen Murnaghan said the decision to cancel the 2020 Festival of Voices was both disappointing for the team but also for everyone who looks forward to it each year.

“Our festival glass is always half-full though, and this setback motivated us to dream up another way for us to gather and remind ourselves how special it is to sing,” Murnaghan said.

“We encourage families and friends to join together around their own firepits or fireplaces at home next month and sing along to this well-known, joyful, heart-lifting song— and maybe even challenge your neighbours to a sing-off!” she said.

The Big Sing(along) event—which will broadcast at 5:30pm on 3 July on both the Festival of Voices and ABC Hobart Facebook pages and live on ABC Radio Hobart’s Drive program— will showcase the upbeat song performed by a chorus of curated singers, selected by FoV, including Karen Lee Andrews, The Velvetones and Nicole and Scott Farrow, with arrangements and musical direction by Big Sing favourites, Uncle Gus and the Rimshots. 

“In addition to our featured artists, you’ll see some well-known local personalities belting out the lyrics and truly demonstrating the wonderful mental, emotional and physical benefits of singing together,” Murnaghan said.

The featured song this year is R&B classic, (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, which was first recorded by Jackie Wilson in 1967 and has since been covered by big name artists including Dolly Parton, Jimmy Barnes, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen.

More about the Big Sing(along) is available at the Festival of Voices website.

The full Festival is expected to return in 2021.