Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, Yarra Street, Geelong
A Music at the Basilica presentation.
Take 28 of Australia’s best singers between the ages of 18 and 26. Bring them together for a few days as a chamber choir. The result was on show at the National Youth Choir of Australia‘s concert at the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels on July 5th.
Despite only a short time rehearsing together, Noel Ancell OAM, Director of the AYCA produced an outstanding program of challenging and varied sacred choral music. The blend was impeccable; technique never in doubt; musicianship and style faultless.
The program began with Swiss composer Ivo Antognini’s 2015 Canticum Novum.
This was followed by the world premiere of young Sydney composer William Yaxley’s Mass for Seven Voices. This is a magical work. Each movement evokes its own mood. Examples of this are the stillness of Sanctus, with its rhythmic whispered ‘Pleni sunt coeli’ and upward glissandos, and the contrasting rhythmic Benedictus sung by the lower parts. The audience were forewarned that the music might appear ‘strange’, especially the in the final Agnus Dei, where soprano and alto are in one key and tenor and bass another. This movement was largely antiphonal, with a final satisfying resolution.
The NYCA then presented a spirited performance of Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, by J.S. Bach. There was a joy to this performance – a lightness and deftness evocative of a dance.
Benjamin Britten’s A.M.D.G (Ad maiorem Dei Goriam), composed in 1939, followed – a challenging setting of 7 poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, not published or performed in Britten’s lifetime.
Despite the few days of rehearsal time, members of the choir have also formed some small groups to perform motets and madrigals. The Geelong performance included a six-part motet by Carlo Gesualdo composed for Holy Saturday.
The program concluded with a moving performance of Timor et Tremor, one of Francis Poulencs Quatre Motets our un Temps de Penitence.
There is still time to hear this outstanding group, before they disband to all corners of Australia. There are performances in Bendigo on 6th July, Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula on July 7th at 11am, and Melbourne (Carlton) at 7.30 on Saturday July 7th. http://www.nyca.org.au/tickets
There was a notable absence of Geelong district choristers at the Geelong performance. Where were you?
For a taste of what you missed watch the NYCA performance of Canticum Novum by Ivo Antoghini, performed in Brisbane in 2017.