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Inside Teaching : April 2010
Inside Teaching | April 2010 MY BEST TEACHER 24 Jonathon Welch My best teacher Steve Holden catches up with one of Australia’s most recognisable choir leaders, JonatHon WelcH, and discovers a man on a mission – to put social justice in the middle of the mainstream. challenges and things to discover. I don’t like to get too comfortable.’ Welch’s work in the area of social justice keeps him well outside his comfort zone. ‘How I respond to the work I do,’ he says, ‘is my own personal challenge, but I know that when I stifle my creativity I become unhappy, so I’m happy to challenge myself.’ That challenge, and the interest in social justice, was clearly evident in Welch’s notably the Choir of Hard Knocks, now called the Choir of Hope and Inspiration. He realised, he says, that his musical gifts would be best used serving the community. ‘I’ve been given these skills, not to just sit in a studio or a rehearsal room,’ he says. ‘You’re given them to use, to “play it forward,” to pass your skills on to other people, who can then pass them on. I realised there were greater Catch a spare hour with Jonathon Welch and you immediately realise you’re talking with a man on a mission. At the end of 1992, the Opera Australia tenor walked away from what was, in his words, ‘a successful and supposedly glamorous career,’ before finding himself, with a few detours along the way, working with homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people in some of Australia’s finest community choirs, most