THE Joys of the Women Italian Choir (Le Gioie Delle Donne) is preparing to serenade Fremantle when its Italian community celebrates the long-standing Blessing of the Fleet later this month.
Choir coordinator Silvana Wiley says the choir will sing three songs throughout the procession that winds its way through the port city from St Patrick’s Basilica to deliver the two Madonna statues to Fishing Boat Harbour.
Ms Wiley says the songs reflect the strong ties of the Italian fishing community to Fremantle, with a shared culture stretching almost a century.
Le Gioie Delle Donne was formed almost by accident 32 years ago by a group of Italian ladies who loved singing the folk songs they grew up with. Soon enough, the choir developed and was joined by women with both Italian heritage or with a love of the Italian culture.
“Our choir is for everyone, not only Italians. We welcome anyone who loves the culture and wants to learn the language,” Ms Wiley said.
The choir’s aim is to pass on the messages of the old folk songs and the Italian culture to their families and to the wider community.
“Even though I was born in Perth I always wanted to get more involved in my culture, I joined the choir to celebrate it and learn the language better,” Ms Wiley said.
There are currently 17 members of the choir ranging from 40 to 89 years old and they are looking to expand into the younger demographic to preserve the rich folk music tradition of Italy.
The women’s choir has been active in the local and wider community for many years
and performs regularly at aged care homes, senior centres and multicultural events but this the first time they have been asked to perform at the Blessing of the Fleet.
“We took out two birds with one stone as we love to get out into the community and sing and also many of the ladies in the choir wanted to be a part of the procession as well.”
This year the procession will take a slight detour down Mouat Street, as the organising committee has been fostering closer ties with Notre Dame University.
The Blessing of the Fleet procession will take place Saturday October 23 and start at St Patrick’s Basilica with the blessing of the statues Madonna dei Martini and Madonna de Capo d’Orlando.
by ISABELLA HOLLAND