One of singer/songwriter Claire Chatfield’s happy places is on stage with fellow members of the inclusive world music orchestra, Orkeztra Glasso Bashalde.

Composer, pianist and klezmer (a type of traditional Jewish music) expert Pietro Fine founded the group back in 2008, throwing ‘The Orke’ open to community musicians.

Claire Chatfield Orkeztra Glasso Bashalde

The current musical director, Omid Shayan, has the Northcote-based group perform a range of music, with a focus on Balkan, Romany and Middle Eastern tunes.

‘It’s got very complex time signatures compared to music from the West that gives it very different rhythm, which I just love. You can hear the drum coming in underneath and these unusual time beats, and it’s very uplifting. It's fast, it's fun, and it takes a lot of people to put that together. You can't create that sound alone,’ Claire says.

The Orkeztra has a core of about 12 members but can swell to 20 for its performances at festivals and other events and sees more experienced members nurturing newcomers to increase their skills.

‘Making music with other people is an extraordinary uplifting experience and it's very sustaining emotionally as well as spiritually and musically. It’s very satisfying,’ Claire says.

Whilst Claire is a freelance musician, she is also a strong advocate for community groups that do not require prospective members to audition as an entry requirement.

‘I think there's a danger that professionalising music disqualifies people at the grassroots level. The ethos of these groups is that they are for everybody. And you may not have the skill when you come in, but if you really want to, you're just allowed to be there.’

Watch Clare's 2020 Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance.