All Saints Anglican Church, Newtown
A concert ticket was the only passport required for this whirlwind tour of six continents. Globetrotters taking up this offer were treated to a fine afternoon of armchair travel, presented by the Geelong Chorale, under the assured piloting of conductor Anne Pilgrim. John Stubbings was tour guide, providing comprehensive commentary. Kristine Mellens, provided flight deck assistance as accompanist.
Choir members arrived on stage well prepared for their tour around the world, with baggage, and dressed in comfortable in-flight clothing. Several arrived in national costume.
Before leaving Australia the choir presenting Percy Jones’ setting of Click Go the Shears.
A Middle-Eastern stopover in Israel relieved the long haul flight to Europe, with the men of the choir presenting the old Hebrew song Hava Nagila.
Eastern Europe was next with a beautiful setting of the Latvian folk song Kurs Putninis Dzied Tik Kosi, accompanied by Kristine Mellens who was in full Latvian dress. Hungarian composer Matyas Seiber’s arrangement of the Yugoslavian song The Unfaithful Lover followed. The choir showed their full range of dynamics and beautiful tone in this poignant song. (I note here, that this was then only song not presented in its original language.) The choir’s diction was excellent throughout the concert, though, as a mere tourist, I am not qualified to comment on the singers’ foreign language skills.
The next port of call was Sweden where soprano Fiona Squires presented the first of two unaccompanied folk songs – Uti vår hage. Skipping south, travellers visited first Italy (O Solo mio) then Germany (Brahms’ beautiful In Stille Nacht) and France (Auprès de ma blonde) before crossing the channel to the British Isles.
England was represented by Ralph Vaughan Williams’s setting of Just as the Tide was Flowing, Scotland by the poignant Loch Lomond, Ireland by Fiona Squires’ beautiful rendition of The Parting Glass and, finally, the men of the choir treated travellers to a side trip to Wales with Men of Harlech.
Not content with the old world, the tour continued to the new, with the American songs Shenandoah and Stephen Foster’s Nelly Bligh.
After another long haul flight the tour arrived in Asia. First, travellers visited Japan, with the women of the choir impressing with the children’s song Hotari Koi. A short hop led to Taiwan, represented by Diu, Diu Deng.
Travellers were welcomed back to Australia with an exciting performance of Walzing Matilda, arranged by Eric Austin Phillips. This challenging setting features both well-known tunes and musically paints the drama and pathos of the story of an iconic Aussie, truly down on his luck. The epic ending rising to a Hollywood-style cadence left the world travellers surprisingly refreshed and ready to present prolonged and appreciative applause.
Fiona Squires’ beautiful singing was a highlight of this performance. She skillfully imparted the emotion of her music through vocal tone, gesture and facial expression. Congratulations also to Anne Pilgrim, the Chorale’s Deputy Conductor, Kristine Mellens, accompanist, and John Stubbings, compere.
Choir numbers were depleted for this performance, due partly to illness, and also to people taking the opportunity to travel once again. Despite these problem, this was a most enjoyable concert.
You can read Colin Mockett’s review of the concert at https://entertainmentgeelong.com/reviews-2/