Capella St. Crucis Hannover: April 11th, 2019

Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, Geelong

Geelong music lovers were treated to some outstanding choral singing at Capella St. Crucis’s concert of Easter music, titled  Media Vita (in the midst of our lives), in the beautiful acoustics of St Marys Basilica.

The choir of around 50 musicians performed music by Johann Christoph Altnickol, Bach, Mendelssohn, Max Reger, and James MacMillan.

From the opening note, it was clear that this concert was something very special indeed.  Befiehl de deine Wege is the opening line of a hymn by Paul Gerhardt, commonly known in English as the hymn O Sacred Headand used by Bach as the linking chorale in his St Matthew Passion.  In Altnickol’s setting the first an last stanza are set as chorales with verses II to XI a set of challenging variations, both for full choir, and various solo ensembles.  Capella Crucis, and its many accomplished soloists worked together as a precision music-making unit, sensitively conducted by Florian Lohmann.

Bach’s Komm, Jesu, komm, a motet for double choir, followed, retaining the mood of solemnity.  The only one of Bach’s motets not to feature a biblical text, Komm Jesu Komm is thought to have been composed as a funeral motet.

For Mitten wir im Leben sind by Mendelsohn demands male and female choruses, and full 8-part chorus in counterpoint.  Here, the dynamic scope of Capella Crucis came to the fore with a full range of dynamics from pianissimo to a rich fortissimo.

With Max Reger’s bleak motet, O Tod, wie bitter bist Du the program moved into the 20th century.  The text contrasts the bitterness fear that death holds for the prosperous, with the welcome death gives to the old, weak, fearful and needy.  The music moves from clashing harmonies and unison solo lines and full choir to rich warm harmonies, finishing on a sustained triple pianissimo.  This was a moving performance.

The program concluded with a beautiful setting of Miserere by James MacMillan.

After enthusiastic applause, Capella Crucis presented an encore – Weep by Australian contemporary composer Joseph Twist.

This choir has an extraordinary depth of talent.  For this performance, there were at least 13 different soloists, and one had the feeling that many others could step into this role at need.

Photos by Music at the Basilica

The Geelong concert was presented by Music at the Basilica.

Geelong was lucky to have been one of only six Australian towns to hear this wonderful ensemble.  Capella St. Crucis from Hannover are on a whirlwind tour of Australia, presenting concerts at McLaren Vale, Adelaide (with Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus), Port Fairy, Geelong, Melbourne (with the Australian Chamber Choir), culminating in a concert at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Philharmonia Chorus on April 20th.

I was lucky enough to hear Capella St. Crucis again at their concert in Melbourne, which featured, as well as some of the above works, a performance of Charles-Marie Widor’s Messe Solennelle Opus 36 for two choirs and two organs.  Capella St. Crucis were joined for this by the Australian Chamber Choir and the Choir of Scots Church.

You can hear some of the sound from this concert here.


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.


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!


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”