WITH an average age of about 80, it's fair to say a love of music is deeply embedded in the Veneto Club's men's choir.
It is reflected in their motto, "We sing to live - We Live to Sing" ("Si Canta Per Vivere - Si Vive Per Cantare").
"We've got a lovely choir made up of elderly Italian gentleman," said manager Pasquele Marinelli.
"I'm 77, the eldest just turned 90, and the youngest is 40 years old.
"We sing with a lot of gusto and a beautiful tone."
The club in Bulleen, VIC takes its name from the region around Venice where most of its members or their families originate.
Classic songs include Quel Mazzolin Di Fiori (That Little Bunch of Flowers), which was composed in the 19th century and was a favourite among the Alpini, or Italian mountain troops. Another favourite is La Montanara, a folk song about Soreghina, the daughter of the Sun.
Pasquale said the choir has 27 members at present but it fluctuates. "We get a couple of new people now and then - some want to come and sing with us to improve their Italian."
The choir has a professional conductor, Guiliani Di Ienno.
"He's a young man and very, very talented," Pasquale said.
"And he brings out the best of us. He's got a very nice approach.
"Older people are sometimes a bit noisy, a bit cheeky, but we respect him very much. As soon as he starts talking, we are very attentive and appreciative."
Pasquale said it is "wonderful for the soul" to sing songs from childhood but it is important to learn new ones to keep brains active and audiences interested.
"When a new song is introduced, most carry on, saying things like 'Ho! that's too hard for us oldies to learn', or 'This song is in English - we prefer to sing in Italian'.
"Our maestro does not take note of these protests and after a few weeks, we have learned the new songs and no one protests any more - until another new song is introduced!"
Highlights so far have included singing at the club for La Sagra di San Marco (the patron saint of Venice), at the Melbourne Italian Festival in Carlton and at the City of Manningham's Carols by Candlelight.
Upcoming events include the Hepburn Spring Swiss Italian Festa in Daylesford (October 26-29) and an Italian day at the Preston Market.
New members of any ability are welcome. The choir rehearses at the club (191 Bulleen Road, Bulleen) on Thursday evenings.
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