From traditional pomp and ceremony – Elgar (Land of Hope and Glory), Handel (Zadok the Priest) and, Arne’s stirring Rule Britannia – to intricate harmonies and exquisite solo singing (Sian Williams beautiful singing with Stanford’s The Blue Bird), The Geelong Chorale showed fine form for their very popular concert, THE LAST
NIGHT AFTERNOON OF THE PROMS.
No orchestra was available for the long introduction to Zadok the Priest. However, Kristine Mellens (piano) and Janelle Kratzmann (violin) ably managed the tension-inducing build up before the explosion of sound as the choir entered. Wow! It was immediately evident that the sopranos have all it takes, with strength matched by good choral tone.
Each vocal part came to the fore in the at least one piece. Song of Peace (based on Sibelius’s Finlandia) and Deep Peace had the basses showing a lovely deep richness. The Chorale’s altos showed a beautiful blend throughout – and did an amazing job as sopranos in the taking high notes of Eric Austin Phillips’s arrangement of Waltzing Matilda. The comic capabilities of three tenors were also evident as troopers. Tenors and altos also featured in Finzi’s complex My Spirit Sang all Day.
It was clear that the audience contained may singers. Traditionally, the last concert of the proms includes at least one item for the audience to shine. The audience vowed that, yes, they did like to be beside the seaside, and they were indeed Henery the Eighth. With the choir, they enjoyed Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and Last of Hope and Glory. There was much flag-waving and various non-musical effects from within and outside the choir.
This choir has made Austin Phillips’s complex arrangement of Waltzing Matilda their own. The concert ended with this home-grown classic, to the delight of the packed house at St Luke’s Highton.
Allister Cox has used his own prodigious choral and musical skills ably to ensure The Geelong Chorale produces concerts of high audience appeal and musical excellence.