From its inception in August 2016, Zing! Sing in Dutch promised to be a choir with a difference. Following a series of two vibrant workshops in June that year featuring nursery rhymes, cabaret ballads, pop songs and waltzes (all in Dutch), a core group formed under the leadership of founder and long-standing managing director Jeannie Marsh.

Though few in number, the initial members were quick to hit the ground running with an opening concert taking place at the Dutch Club Abel Tasman in September, one month after Zing! formally began. This set the pace for the choir’s activities over the years that followed, with its busy schedule of regular performances across Melbourne punctuated only by the necessity of abiding by Covid-19 restrictions. Since the easing of lockdown measures, Zing! has not only bounced back, but flourished, moving from strength to strength, bolstered by the passion and enthusiasm of its members, new and old.

Zing! at its first Holland Festival performance in 2017 under the guidance of Jeannie Marsh.

In a typical year, the Zing! calendar revolves around two major events: The Holland Festival, taking place in March or April, and the Tesselaar Tulip Festival culminating in late September and October. An intensive rehearsal schedule in Term 1 and Term 3 ensures the group is prepared for what have proven to be well-received performances (Zing! having participated no fewer than four times at each event). The Zing! year however extends well beyond the two terms, with a wide arrange of smaller (and often more intimate) shows taking place in and around the festivals.

Key past performances have included multiple appearances at the Dutch Club Abel Tasman, collaborations with other community choirs at The Boite in 2017 and in South Melbourne in 2023 and 2024 (the latter forming the beginning of a Winter Solstice event series), fundraisers for cystic fibrosis, shows at the Avondrust Aged Care facility, repeated ‘Dutchies in the Dandenongs’ events, a lively full-house cabaret show, and a TV appearance on SBS.

Whilst the core focus of Zing! has always been to promote and actively engage with Dutch musical traditions (past and present), a large part of the group’s focus is directed towards striving to build bridges between a wide cross-section of community groups within Melbourne. This has led to productive partnerships with a number of ensembles, including Lithuanian performance group The Lost Clog, the Prahran Accordion Band based out of the German Club Tivoli, and the Elwood Community Choir.

Zing! at its most recent Holland Festival performance in April 2024.

Zing! prides itself in being an active and leading proponent of Dutch music in Australia. Whilst the group’s repertoire is ever changing and evolving, a constant theme is that of stylistic breadth. In a single term the group will learn, revise, refine and perform a vast set of new and existing repertoire that encompasses popular songs from the early 1900s to the present, classical art song, folk and much more. While Zing! concert programmes frequently include a number of well-trodden classics such as Het Kleine Café aan de haven and Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten, opportunities to partner with new and upcoming artists such as Stephanie Struik are an area of particular interest. Reflecting the main goals of the ensemble, as well as the heritage of the majority of its members, songs almost invariable involve a Dutch language component.

Nonetheless, the group takes great care to ensure its activities reflect the particular cultural and geographical context in which they take place, with each rehearsal and concert commencing with a sung rendition of welcome to country Honouring the Land (written by Australian composer Laura Brearley).

In 2024, Zing! continues to seek pathways to collaborate with community stakeholders while maintaining its own individual identity. Under the combined leadership of Jeannie Marsh and Sam Hartley, and supported by Sally Byron, Zing! strives to provide a welcoming home for anyone seeking to interact with Dutch music in Melbourne.

July 2024