It was around 1985 and the club needed more regular visitors. The Friday nights were alright but could be better. The idea came up to start a male choir. The name would be the same as the club. Rembrandt Male Choir St Marys. Looking for interested persons went as far as talking to Sunrise Choir members. Soon there were 8 singers and the beginning of a musical input to the Friday nights. The little side room became the choir practice room and with the choir also came partners and wives. The next thing was a design for an appropriate outfit that would speak for itself. So the Rembrandt outfits were designed and sewed by a few crafty ladies. They even had a mascot, Johnnie, the son of conductor Harry. One Friday night the Choir was going to give a mini concert after a short practice, especially for the Friday night visitors, so they could see and hear how far they had come.
One of the big choir fans (not a singer) had the great idea to gift them a snack; Beschuit with chocolate sprinkles. Just imagen you are eating this delicious but very crummy treat, what happens to your voice. Yes they all needed a drink to wash the crumbs down. That was on top of the drink during their break. A bonus. After the Choir practice was finished a few stayed back for a game of “Toepen aan de bar”. There was a sign on the bar that says “10 KLOPPEN”. Only if you know the game you know what this means. The looser of a game would have to shout a drink to the other players. That was changed when the booze bus was invented. The shout was changed into a round of food; chips, krokets, bitterballen or even herring. The Rembrandt bar and kitchen did a roaring business.
The very first concert for the Rembrandt Male Choir was for a PHILIPS event in Sydney. A surprise to the event manager when only 8 singers turned up. He was told that ‘other members’ were sick at home or overseas. It was accepted as an excuse and the concert was a success.
It only took a few years for the choir to grow to 24 members and sing at the Bowral tulip festival, and at concerts in Forbes, Bathurst, Newcastle, Wollongong, Springwood, Sydney Town Hall and the Opera House. The top event was a concert tour to Fiji in the early Nineties.
In 1989 the Rembrandt Male Choir together with Sydney Male Choir and the Melbourne Dutch Choir started the Australian Male Choir Association. The Rembrandt Male Choir was the only one that could sing in seven languages.
Another thing that was happening on Friday nights was a raffle. It was a member’s invention. You could buy a timber block like a large domino block. Half was painted in Red, the other half in Blue and the numbers in white. The wheel with corresponding colours and number would be turned and so there would be a price winner. The “domino” blocks were used for many years and I even wrote a song about it; Plankje, Plankje, Plankje. Hahahaha!!
See also: Rembrandt Club