West end gets into festive groove

Healesville High School's Sax Ensemble.

Healesville’s west end traders have harnessed the power and reach of the universal language of music to deliver the message: The main shopping strip doesn’t end at Church Street.

“I can’t begin to tell you how many people who cross that asphalt divide to our end of town say they had no idea of the artistry, style and edible delights down here,” said Studio Malka proprietor Esther Steiner.

The inaugural event is a series of Christmas street concerts showcasing Healesville High School’s celebrated Sax Ensemble. The first gig kicks off at noon Saturday 12 December.

Year 12 students Taylah Chipperfield, 18 and Eliza Hoiles, 18 along with their music teacher, Amanda Morrison plan to rock the town with original renditions of traditional carols and harmonies.

“Eliza plays tenor sax and Taylah and I play alto. The mix of the two different tones really enhances the sound,” said Ms Morrison laughing at the suggestion that the hum of traffic could drown them out.

“No chance,” she said.

A sax revival, led by Canadian group The Weeknd has elevated the instrument’s stature and the girls anticipate “lots of dancing and sing-alongs” on the footpath in front of Hearth Galleries, Studio Malka, Heels-Ville Shoe Repairs and Freedom Cafe.

“We (the shopkeepers of west end) are very proud of our funky, artistic part of town. We are bringing a wonderful renaissance to this historic place,” said Chris Joy, curator of Hearth Galleries.

Ms Joy is planning upcoming performances with indigenous musicians. “For me it feels right that the local Aboriginal artists express themselves proudly here through Hearth, there’s space and place for new, emerging collaborations,” she says.

Ms Steiner spoke of the shared passion that she and Ms Joy have for the arts.

“These upcoming performances highlight our versatility,” she said. “Studio Malka is a showcase for the unusual and unique celebrations of the creative arts. Looking ahead to 2021 we have a number of combination installations and performances in the pipeline and hope to continue our relationship with Amanda and Healesville High.”

Ms Morrison is on board with the west end for 2021. But for Taylah, who is going on to study music and psychology and Eliza, who will be heading into the animal industry, the future of their sax ensemble hangs in the balance.

The Sax Ensemble will be playing on Saturday 12 and 19 December from 12pm-1.30pm and on Thursday 17 December from 5pm-6.30pm outside 200-208 maroondah Highway, Healesville.