Join Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ acclaimed Chamber Singers for a heavenly afternoon of soul-enriching music, in the majestic surrounds of Australia’s oldest heritage-listed cathedral.
Curated and conducted by Brett Weymark, GRANT US PEACE : MUSIC OF VASKS will radiate warmth and beauty into the stillness of mid-winter, softly nurturing the world’s fresh sense of hope and optimism.
Many will remember the Chamber Singers from their sell-out Night of the Soul concerts at Barangaroo as part of Sydney Festival 2022, where audience members lay on cushions and yoga mats in the vast, cathedralesque space of The Cutaway.
From here, across town, to another historic and sacred place, to celebrate the beauty of the human voice and the transcendent power of music.
It’s fitting then that GRANT US PEACE : MUSIC OF VASKS opens with Tarimi nulay – Long time living here, an Acknowledgement of Country, composed for the Choirs by Deborah Cheetham AO and Matthew Doyle, and performed in the local Gadigal language.
Flowing on from this, Weymark has woven together music to slow the breath and still the mind: a sanctuary of sound from which audiences will emerge feeling renewed and rejuvenated.
At the heart of the program are three evocative works from one of Europe’s most highly acclaimed contemporary composers, Latvia’s Pēteris Vasks: his meditative Pater noster, eloquent Dona nobis pacem and incandescent Missa.
A prolific writer, renowned for his sacred music, Vasks’ multi-layered compositions are etched with history, and the same time resoundingly present. Performed in ancient Latin, rich with the trademark harmonies and motifs of his Baltic heritage, and resonant with echoes of bird song and other reflections of nature, consistent with his deep passion for the environment.
Two new Australian works – from Sydney composer and musician Maria Lopes, and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s Head of Composition Stuart Greenbaum, bring us back to today, in the telling of stories most familiar.
Taking its title from the opening line of Robert Lowry’s 1868 hymn “How can I keep from Singing”, Lopes’ My Life Flows On draws on diverse voices and influences to create a musical kaleidoscope reflective of a celebration – emerging from a time of uncertainty, to a dance of joy. An accomplished singer and long-standing member of the Chamber Singers, Lopes will be part of the choir, performing the work for its long-overdue debut, having originally been commissioned to premiere as part of the Choirs’ 2020 Centenary celebrations.
Specifically commissioned by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs for the concert, Stuart Greenbaum’s The Night that the Museum Burned is set to a provocative new text from long-term collaborator, poet Ross Baglin. The work is a potent reminder of the impermanence and vulnerability of art and culture, if we don’t pay attention and take proactive steps to protect it.
Brett Weymark comments, “Vasks started out as an angry young man in the music world but then made a shift in the road, finding a voice that was more minimalist, soothing and direct. It was almost as if he sensed a need for a new type of music – one that spoke directly to our need for safety and reassurance. It is this slow moving and meditative style that has become his hallmark, and that we wanted to share at this time, as Sydney and the world tentatively reopen.”
“Maria Lopes brings a plethora of experience from inside a choir to her new work “My Life Flows On” and Stuart Greenbaum’s work is much informed by jazz and pop while still maintaining the minimalist voice of Vasks. Both create a wonderful point of departure from Vasks’ harmonic world, yet in a way that is complementary, rather than confrontational.”
Book now for GRANT US PEACE : MUSIC OF VASKS, a soothing afternoon of soulful music, 2pm Saturday July 9 at St Andrew’s Cathedral.
A limited number of premium seats are available in the Cathedral, $70: all remaining seats are general admission, $60. No further concessions. Book now at sydneyphilharmonia.com.au/concerts/2022season/vasks/
FURTHER UPCOMING CONCERTS BY THE SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIR :
In September Sydney Philharmonia Choirs return to the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall stage with the Sydney premiere of Grammy Award-winning composer’s Eric Whitacre’s The Sacred Veil, Whitacre taking the baton as special guest conductor.
The Choir’s final two concerts for 2022 are Glorious Puccini in October, and Handel’s iconic Messiah in December. Tickets to all 2022 concerts are now on sale at sydneyphilharmonia.com.au/concerts/2022season/
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