Sound the Trumpet: The Geelong Chorale – Friday, 10th May, 2019

Windfire Festival 2019 – Concert 1

Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, Geelong

The Geelong Chorale presented this opening concert, with the assistance of brass quartet brass and organ.  The Chorale was directed by Allister Cox OAM.  The brass quartet comprised Daniel Ballinger and Sarah Hepworth, trumpets, Melissa Shirley, horn and Stewart Armitage, trombone.

The opening work Entrat Festiva, for brass quartet and organ, by 20th century composer Flor Peters, was presented from the choir loft, with Frank De Rosso playing the organ.  A more fitting work to open the festival could not be imagined.  The music is exciting, joyful and loud, setting the whole church ringing.

Festival Director, Frank De Rosso, is a master at using the spaces available in St Mary’s so that performers are heard to best advantage.  This means that sometimes performers are not seen, but this is in the long tradition of music in churches, where often, as at St Mary’s, organs and musicians we placed out of the congregation’s sight, and choirs often placed behind screens.

St Mary’s has an semicircular gallery behind the high altar, separated from the chancel by a marble colonnade. This space was chosen for the second work – Cantite tuba in Sion (Sound the trumpets in Sion)The acoustic was perfect for the choir, with the lines perfectly blended in weaving counterpoint.

The choir then moved to a space behind the main altar, now in view, for Pater Noster, by Francisco Guerro, for choir and brass, along with the brass.  It is easy for brass instruments to overshadow voices, and this was somewhat the case for this work, as the choir was still masked by columns and the main altar.

This was followed by three works for choir along, Sicut Servus/Sitvit anima mea by Palestrina and Exultate Deo, by Scarlatti. The last is a most exciting celebratory work, with a fast “Jubilate” middle section (taken by the Chorale at lightning speed) and finishing with joyful Alleluias.

Positioned in a transept, the brass quartet played Canzona a 4 by Giovanni Gabrielli.

The choir were finally in full view – standing on the chancel steps.  The sound was also more balanced between choir and brass, for a performance of Hans Hassler’s Missa Octo Voci The brass played one of the 4-part ‘choir’ parts, the Chorale the other.  A feature was the antiphony – with one choir singing alone, followed by the other, and then both together, giving a rich texture and full sound.  The Chorale demonstrated a sure line, and clean polyphony.  There was also a good balance between parts, despite the numerical lack of basses and tenors.

A haunting melody played by solo horn began the second half of the concert.  It was the opening of Easter Moon, by contemporary Melbourne composer, Christopher Wilcock.  began the second half.  The choir entry was a chant, mainly unison, building from piano then crescendoing to blossom into harmony.  The pattern continued, trombone solo followed by voices, trumpet duet followed by voices.  Finally the haunting strains of the horn died away to silence.

In honour of the setting, St Mary’s, three settings of Ave Maria followed, by Bruckner, Franz Beibl and Morten Lauridsen.  The second of these includes brass, the other two are for choir alone.

The brass returned to the choir loft to play Grand Choeur Dialogue by Eugene Gigout – a spectacular piece for organ and brass.  Finally, the choir joined them, in a very early and florid setting of Now Thanks We All Our God by Johann Bachelbel.

The Geelong Chorale has rarely been heard to better advantage.  They choir appeared to revel in this difficult music.

The collaboration with brass on such joyful music made a perfect opening concert for this year’s Windfire Festival – the 11th.  This year’s festival runs across three weekends, and includes eight concerts in various venues, four weekday lunchtime “Organ Plus 1” recitals, an afternoon tea (with music) for Mother’s Day and a workshop.  For more information go to Music at the Basilica.  

Helen Lyth

The Geelong Chorale presents its next concert on Sunday August 18th, with a program of music from opera and operetta.

Read  Shirley Power’s review of Sound the Trumpet at Entertainment Geelong.

Warrnambool Organ Festival Chorus: Invitation to singers

The Warrnambool Organ Festival is seeking choristers for its upcoming choral project, a highlight of the 2019 Warrnambool Organ Festival. We have choristers from Warrnambool, Hamilton and Port Fairy currently in the choir, and we are hoping that more people throughout the region would like to get involved.

We are performing two fantastic sacred choral works this year – Dvorak’s Mass in D and Bruckner’s Te Deum, accompanied by organist Craig Doherty and conducted by Patrick Burns. Patrick, who works in a fellowship position conducting the Australian Ballet, will be running several rehearsals and ‘choral boot camps’ in preparation for the performance- a fantastic opportunity for skills development for local singers and  of fun! The choir will also be collaborating with four fantastic operatic soloists for the performance- soprano Louise Keast, alto Sally-Anne Russell, tenor Douglas Kelly and baritone Michael Lampard.

Project Details:

Weekly rehearsals at the Warrnambool Uniting Church 115 Koroit St, Warrnambool

Warrnambool Organ Festival performance Saturday 24 August.

Enquiries and rehearsal schedule/information contact Louise Keast (Warrnambool organ Festival Director) on 0481 317 692.

Western District Choral Festival – June 22nd

This year’s Western District Choral Festival will be in Warrnambool, hosted by the Merri Singers. All choirs in the Western District of Victoria and South Eastern South Australia are invited to attend.  Thanks to Philip Shaw for the details below.

Where and When?

The festival will be held in St Joseph’s Church, 169 Kepler St Warrnambool (car park accessed from Raglan Parade, on-street parking in Kepler and Lava Streets.)

The church will be available from 12pm and the concert will start at 1:30pm.

Facilities

There will be an upright piano as well as a small amp with three inputs available for use by choirs. The amp will be used for announcements and the guitar accompaniment of one of the group songs.

Tea, coffee and toilet facilities will be available in the meeting space next to the church, but afternoon tea following the singing will be in the church hall.

St Joseph’s is wheelchair accessible from the car park, as is the church hall.

How long?

We expect each group to have 8 minutes of performance time. Please let us know if you have any special requirements (eg mobility problems for moving into position).

Number of Choirs

To make the afternoon manageable we will be able to host a maximum of 15 choirs at the festival. More than this would necessitate having the afternoon too long or brackets too short. Choirs that have already expressed interest will have first options of attending, after which acceptance will be in order of Registration receipt.

Massed choir songs

Group songs will be a traditional Zulu hymn Thuma Mina and Everything Can Turn Around, a song written for a men’s health flash mob by Warrnambool songwriter Don Cowling.  Electronic copies of these will be circulated on acceptance of Registration.

Next Year

Post-festival tea is traditionally the time that the host of the following year’s WDCF is announced, so now is a good time to start thinking about throwing your hat into the ring. Please let us know if you are interested. Previous hosts are always willing to share hints to make the yoke easier and the burthen lighter!

Registration

Please download and complete the registration form attached (either directly in the Word Document or by printing the PDF document and completing manually) and return it to Philip Shaw  or as text attachment to 0437 955 887 by Friday 12 April.

WDCF 2018 – Singers mass on stage for “Africa”

Acabellas at Pako Festa – Saturday February 23rd, 2019

On the most perfect day for a festival, Acabellas were the only Choral Grapevine group to sing at the 2019 Pako Festa.  Belinda McArdle, who leads Acabellas groups from around the region, led the group in a selection of her own original songs. 

Despite the open air stage, and with only a mike for Belinda’s guitar, the sound was amazingly good.  The group sang with joy and the sound showed this, with clear three and four part harmony and clean unison singing.  Singing with others is an uplifting experience.  Acabellas are a perfect example of this.

This performance marked the launch of Acabellas new recording Up in LightsToday the light was sunshine and the light shining from the happy faces of these fine performers.  As well as the title track, the audience were treated to a few other highlights from the CD including Breathe, I’ll Try and Big Love. 

You can purchase Up in Lights direct from members of Acabella or directly from Belinda.