Choir master: ‘It’s similar to taking drugs’

By | January 9, 2021

For Jacqueline Larsen, choir is more than a chance to sing, it’s about being part of a larger family.

So when the COVID-19 lockdown forced her Soul Song Choir to shut down, it took her less than a day getting it back up and running online.

The Viral Choir temporarily replaced Soul Song, which had bases in Brisbane and Cairns and around 150 members. But opening up the experience online meant members could join from around the world.

Ms Larsen soon welcomed singers from Germany, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, the US and Brunei as well as almost every state and territory in Australia.

The Brisbane mother-of-two was nominated in the Thanks A Million campaign by fellow choir member Karen McCarthy.

“Friendships were forged and I think I can confidently say Jac’s virtual choir saved a lot of people’s sanity throughout this difficult year,” Ms McCarthy said in her nomination.

Knowing merely singing together on a platform like Zoom wouldn’t work as there is always a lag, Ms Larsen devised a way for singers to blend their voices together as one. She held a weekly online rehearsal from her dining room and offered additional instruction webinars for those who needed it. Then participants recorded themselves singing and Larsen edited the voices together into one song, their first performance the aptly named “We Are Family”.

Their first song included the voices of 92 choir members, but numbers would subsequently swell to more than 380.

So grateful were members, they commissioned a painting by Cairns artist Hayley Gillespie showing the community of singers Ms Larsen inspired as a gift to their choir master.

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“It wasn’t really about the money,” Ms Larsen said, who had also lost her full-time job as a communications and corporate events manager due to COVID-19.

“It’s been scientifically proven that when you sing together, the pleasure centre is activated in a similar way to when a person takes drugs.

“What I was conscious of was that some people live for their choir, literally.”

The Viral Choir has been so popular, Larsen has added it to her permanent program.

To nominate someone and say thanks, go to and they could receive a $ 200 Woolworths Gift Card.

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