About hlyth2013

I run websites for The Choral Grapevine (a regional newsletter for choirs in Western Victoria and South-Eastern South Australia) and Cycling Geelong (a recreational cycling group). I am an artist and photographer, musician and recreational cyclist.

Christmas Around the World – The Geelong Chorale: December 2nd, 2017

All Saints Church, Noble Street, Newtown.  Saturday, December 2nd, 5pm.

Allister Cox conducted a choir of 37 singers in a program of carols from around the world.  The Geelong Chorale was accompanied by Kristine Mellens (piano) and Frank De Rosso.  The guest artists for this concert were the Geelong Handbell Choir.

Allister Cox

The concert began with Australian bird song imitations from the choir placed at the rear of the church.  The work was If Christ had been born in another time composed by Australian Matthew Orlovich.  This set the tone for music of high quality and audience appeal.  Carols ranged from traditional English and European, to modern works including Of a Rose, a Lovely Rose (Colin Brumby), Jewel Carol, composed by New Zealander Christopher Marshall and Shepherds Pipe Carol (John Rutter).  There were several songs for audience participation.

The Geelong Handbell Choir was a popular guest artist, playing a selection of carols, and finishing with some light-hearted schmaltz – a setting of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

As is usual for the Geelong Chorale’s Christmas concerts, the concert ended with We Wish You a Merry Christmas (English West Country carol) in a spectacular setting by Arthur Warrell.

This Christmas concert continues the Geelong Chorale’s Christmas tradition of carol concerts.  These started in 1981 – the Year of the Disabled*.  Originally, a free gift from the Chorale to the community, the aim was to present a short, easily accessible concert of traditional and new carols to the community, particularly targeting people who find attending outdoors ‘carols by candlelight’ events difficult.  The first concerts were held in the Geelong Art Gallery, and later the foyer of the Geelong Performing Arts Centre.  Children sat on the floor, and the venues were easily wheel-chair accessible.  Several aged care centres brought busloads of people to attend.

With the local ‘carols by candlelight’ cancelled due to bad weather, it’s a pity that the Chorale’s alternative offering was not better advertised.  The rather small audience certainly enjoyed the concert.

*Prior to 1981, the Gama Singers (now the Geelong Chorale) gave annual Christmas cafe concerts.

Read Colin Mockett’s review of Christmas Around the World at Entertainment Geelong.



‘Everything Begins with the Human Voice’.

While in Dublin recently, I was warmly welcomed and thrilled to take part in a regular Friday night gathering of the An Góilín Traditional Singers’ Club in the large lounge-room of a club in Parnell Square. About 50-60 people attended, most prepared and eager to sing, with not one instrument in the room. Many sang in Gaelic, some in the ornamented séan nos style, heartfelt songs such as My Little Grey Home in the West (a tenor’s tribute), A Blacksmith Courted Me, The Salley Gardens, Northwest Passage (by Stan Rogers), Bold Fenian Men, and many associated with particular counties such as The Boys of Fair Hill (one of the best-known of songs from County Cork).

The contribution of Kris Drever, recently-awarded BBC Folksinger of the Year (who sang ‘Everyone’s Playing Pool’) was no more greatly appreciated than less-well-known voices singing occasionally out-of-tune; the respect of everyone in the room for all the singers and the songs was palpable and made for a thoroughly satisfying (if, unsurprisingly, very late) night.

A week later the Willie Clancy Summer Festival (Scoil Samhraidh) was in full swing at Milltown Malbay, where thousands thronged the narrow streets of the small town. There was an air of anticipation inside the dilapidated Community Centre which was filling fast before the Traditional Singers’ Concert on Friday afternoon. All were introduced, in Gaelic as were many of their songs, as being from their particular home county (e.g. Tipperary, Mayo or Clare); some of the singers offered an explanation in English as well. The MC acknowledged that ‘everything begins with the human voice’ and we heard a fine range of the best singers of Irish songs to be found in the country.

Some were elderly men with lifelong reputations as fine singers, others the typical Irish tenor or women with strong, tuneful voices, although I noticed that many sang with mouths almost closed and tight, throaty projection. Most sang solemn, even sad songs, about the beauty of the various counties of Eireann, and of emigration to ‘Amerikay’; few, such as a parody of music hall ditties (themselves parodies) called In Praise of Mullingar, had the audience laughing instead of crying.

One young man from a Gaeltacht (where Gaelic is strongly maintained as the first language) sang beautifully but with his eyes closed because he doesn’t enjoy ‘watching people suffer’ although to hear him was a pleasure, and the lone Scot, Sandra Robertson, sang puirt-a-beul (mouth music) from the highlands or islands, which was similarly well received. In every case, respect for the singer and appreciation of their songs was the unified response and created a wonderful atmosphere. And not once did we hear O Danny Boy!

Marie Goldsworthy

Thanks, Marie, for this report.

Christmas Noel – Music at the Basilica

Friday, December 15, 8pm, St Mary’s Basilica, Yarra Street, Geelong.

Featuring Windfire Chamber Choir and orchestra, conducted by Rick Prakhoff.  Soloists Lee Abrahmsen, Tim Reynolds and Manfred Pohlenz with guest artists The Geelong Youth Choir conducted by Denise Hollingworth.

Music includes Wachet Auf (Sleepers Awake) J. S. Bach and O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen.  Bookings http://www.trybooking.com/QOSS

Venice: The Australian Chamber Choir – Geelong, October 29th, 2017

171029 Australian Chamber choir St Marys Basilica_3The music for this concert was inspired by the architecture of St Mark’s Basilica, which dominates the Venice skyline.  The church provides a broad range of options for musical performance.  The music for the Australian Chamber Choir’s current program is from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when St Mark’s was already four hundred years old.  For this concert, which features the work of Gabrielli, Monteverdi and Shütz, the choir is joined by a nine-piece instrumental ensemble, playing renaissance instruments.

The Australian Chamber Choir has, over its ten years on existence, gained world-wide renown as a choir of the highest standard, with close attention given to authenticity of musical style.  The current program, VENICE, maintains that high standard.  The choir is directed by its founder, Douglas Lawrence.  A feature of established fine ensembles is the development of an almost telepathic sense of unity in interpretation.  The Australian Choirs performance in St Mary’s Basilica, Geelong, demonstrated that it has joined this elite body.

Douglas Lawrence

The concert began with Domine ad Adjuvandum from Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin. The choir sings a major chord with the text, with florid playing from the instruments interspersed with a lively instrumental ritornello for instruments and finishes with a chordal setting of ‘Alleluja’.

Heinrich Schütz’s  Ist Nicht Ephraim Mein Teurer Sohn, SWV 40 demonstrates admirably the diversity available from this choral ensemble, and the depth of the choir in solo talent.  This work featured fine singing from alto Elizabeth Anderson.  Although music of this period was written for male altos, and has a low tessitura for the female voice, Anderson’s work throughout the concert was exemplary.

More music of Monteverdi followed first Cantate Domino in a six part setting performed a cappella followed by a five part setting of O Jesu Mea Vita

The instrumental ensemble then demonstrated Giovanni Gabrielli’s exciting writing for instruments in a performance of Sonata Pian’ E Forte – played as originally intended with cornetto and violin playing the upper voices, rather than trumpets.

The first half of the program ended with an extended setting of the Magnificat composed by Giovanni Antonio Rigatti.  This once again demonstrated the choir’s fine soloists with extended solos for bass, baritone and tenor, and a soprano duet in thirds.  The tenor solo, Fecit Potentium is florid and extended, and was beautifully sung.  The Gloria contrasts  soloists with full choir.

Ancor Che Col Partire by Cipriano de Rore in 1516.  This performance featured a solo soprano (superbly sung by Erika Tandiano) with three solo instruments.

Of particular note was a second work of Heinrich Shütz – Saul, Saul, was Verfolgst du Mich, SWV 415.  The work contrasts solo ensemble with the full choir and instrumental vocal ensemble. Sparsely accompanied solo sections contrast with the richness of the  full sections.

The music of uncle and nephew Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli featured in the second half of the program, including Andrea Gabrieli’s Gloria in sixteen parts, and concluding with Giovanni Gabrieli’s spectacular In Ecclesiis.

There are two more performances of this beautiful program, on November 11 and 12, in Brighton and Middle Park.  It comes highly recommended.  See the Australia Chamber Choir website for further details, and of the upcoming 2018 subscription series.

This concert was part of the Music at the Basilica series presented by the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, Yarra Street Geelong.  For more details see Music at the Basilica







The Creation: Joseph Haydn – Gisborne and Woodend

The Gisborne Singers Celebrate the Beginning of Time

The Gisborne Singers are ending 2017 with a magnificent choral work which celebrates the beginning of the world. Haydn’s “Creation”, is a musical masterpiece which tell the story from the biblical perspective, particularly the book of Genesis.

This remarkable work begins in chaos, emerges into light, announces the heavens and earth, introduces plants and animals and finally, celebrates humanity.

Joseph Haydn, the German composer was inspired to write the work in 1798, after hearing the oratorios of another of the Gisborne Singers’ favourite composers, Handel. The Creation is Haydn’s first oratorio and arguably his best.

The dramatic 3 part work is a life affirming celebration which deservedly has formed an important part of the world’s choral repertoire since it was first performed. The music is dynamic and emotional while the text is as powerful and relevant as it was over 300 years ago.

This Gisborne Singers are the premier choir in the Macedon Ranges and have been performing the world’s great choral works for nearly 30 years. Music Director Stephen Brockman will conduct the choir of 50 singers. 2017 has been a busy year for the choir who began the year with their first international tour which included a performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The work will be performed in English and will be accompanied by a full orchestra with some of their favourite soloists; soprano, Cristina Russo, tenor, Christopher Roache and bass, Manfred Pohlenz.

When the work premiered at a small private performance in 1799, police had to hold back the hundreds of people who were trying to get in to hear the work. The Gisborne Singers recommend you book early to secure your seats. There will be two performances, November 19th at Our Lady of the Rosary, Kyneton and November 26 at Church of Christ, New Gisborne. For bookings visit the choir’s website, gisbornesingers.org.au.


Venice: The Australian Chamber Choir: Sunday 29th October, 2017

Music at the Basilica
Come with us to Venice!

Join the Australian Chamber Choir on amusical journey through Venice at 3pm, Sunday 29 October at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, 136 Yarra St., Geelong

Following the enormous popularity of the ACC’s program of Music from San Marco Venice in 2015, Douglas Lawrence has curated a new program of  music inspired by the architecture of this famous church. Hear Monteverdi, Rigatti and Gabrieli with the ravishing sound of Italian Renaissance instruments.
Tickets $35/$30 from www.auschoir.com.  Children and school students – free