Many performing artists, be they amateur or professional, often take a while to settle in to their performing space in front of the audience. There may be nerves, the odd note lacking in surety, a challenge to the pitch or tempo issues. The Sydney Chamber Choir however, is not one of those groups. From the very first note this group was sure, spot on pitch and holding an incredible unity of sound. Their rich, golden tone filled the Verbruggen Hall, making the most of the great acoustics and the audience was spell bound. Absolutely outstanding.
The program titled “Time and Place” featured contemporary music of all living composers with the exception of one. Choral music from America, UK, Canada and Australia threaded nicely together, each piece chosen with care. Program notes point out that sound can only exist in time while it is sounding – be it live or recorded. It travels through space from the vocal chords to ear drums thus, both time and space, or place, create the environment to give and receive the sounds of the concert. “We have the privilege, the responsibility and the joy of turning those marks on the page back into living music, for all of us to experience together, here and now.”
The first three items were gently delivered with great focus and poignancy. More diversity came towards the end of the first half in “The Passing of the Year” with 7 varied movements, some very complicated in their structure. More dark than light but still very appealing. This was accompanied by pianist Luke Byrne who connected well with Musical Director Sam Allchurch.
The second half held some surprises. A west Irish ballad held many parts – maybe 8 parts – written specifically for Sydney Chamber Choir by former member Clare Maclean. Next was a deeply moving, recent work “Stāvi Stīvi, Ozolin “ (Stand strong, Oak tree) by young composer Ella Macens who was there to receive the applause of an appreciative audience and choir. This flowed effortlessly into two songs from American composer Morten Lauridsen, concluding the concert with “Invocation and Dance” by David Conte including full choir, Luke Byrne and Kate Johnston as four hands on the piano and two percussionists Adam Jeffrey and Trudy Leopard. Percussion started a little too loud so we lost the choir for a short while but soon softened to a more rounded presentation.
Great applause from the audience for what has to be one of the most outstanding choirs in the country. Bravo.
Check out upcoming concerts at their website: http://sydneychamberchoir.org/
Musical Director – Sam Allchurch
Pianists – Luke Byrne and Kate Johnston
Percussion – Adam Jeffrey and Trudy Leopard
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