This year's Taree and District Eisteddfod celebrated performers of all abilities and diversity with the inclusion of the newly formed Starburst syllabus, which was so popular it is clearly here to stay for future years.
Forty entrants took part in the section with individual and group vocalists and instrumentalists taking part in conjunction with the instrumental section. Dancers were included in the dance program's 'All In' section.
The Starburst sections are open to performers who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, have a communication disability, a learning or cognitive disability, a mental health or emotional disability, have limited mobility, and performers who are students from areas of disadvantage.
Creator of Starburst, Tanya Brown said the number of entrants proved there was need for Starburst.
"What we'd really like next year is for more members of the public to come and support them when competing," Tanya said.
Some of the sections in the Starburst syllabus were competitive and others were for participation only. Regardless of which section they competed in, everyone went home with colourful certificates and ribbons.
"It was fantastic. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. We had people performing in wheelchairs, dressed in ball gowns, there was lots of glitter and sparkle, lots of colour, there were lots of nerves - some people were really, really nervous but they got way over the top of that. Some of them even performed like professionals," Tanya said.
One stand out performer who did indeed perform like a professional was Nathan Moore, who also performed at the Grand Concert on Saturday, June 5. For that performance, Nathan received the loudest applause from the audience for any of the performers at the concert.
The Dundaloo Diamonds also performed at the Grand Concert and received riotous applause. The group sang "Morning Town Ride" with the audience singing and clapping along throughout the performance.
Both the Dundaloo Diamonds and Nathan Moore were accompanied by Matt Zarb on guitar.
Matt, who teaches music as part of role at Dundaloo, discovered Nathan's talent.
Matt says that week was the best week of Nathan's life - not only did he get to perform at the Grand Concert, but three days earlier he got his L plates.
Matt confesses to crying onstage through both Nathan's and the Dundaloo Diamond's performances .
"It was incredibly emotional," he said.
"It was absolutely life changing for a lot of them, and for me too. For all the thousands of gigs I've done in my life, you forget most of them and. then there's a few that sit high in my head. This was one of them.
"It's a huge step forward in the community. Some of these participants from the Dundaloo Diamonds, prior to this would have never have stepped on a stage of this magnitude, and some of them would have have been with Dundaloo for 40 years.
"For me to step on stage with Dundaloo Diamonds was one of the biggest honours I think I've had.
Matt is quick to give praise to other Starburst performers who took part.
"The breakthru Bright Stars had a great representation. They were fantastic. There was also another young guy from Dundaloo, Noah Hazelwood, who was a solo singer - he did a fantastic job. There was a small representation from the Sunday crew.
"I'm so proud of what happened and I think anybody in that audience will never forgot those people walking on stage," Matt said.
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