True Romantics – AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER CHOIR: Sunday, August 26th, 2018

St Paul’s Anglican Church, La Trobe Terrace, Geelong

Musical Director:  Douglas Lawrence

Presented by Music at the Basilica

At first it may seem a misnomer to title this divers program of choral music ‘romantic’.  However, the romanticism of this concert lies in the sense that each work evokes its own atmosphere and each demands the listener to feel a strong emotional response.  If that was the aim of this program, then it was supremely successful.

A change of venue worked to the advantage of both choir and audience.  St Paul’s Geelong has perfect acoustics for singers.  Music at the Basilica was rewarded in this change by a good-sized audience, who clearly appreciated not only the acoustics but also the warmth and comfortable seating.

The music ranged from Brahm’s substantial motet Warum is das licht gegeben dem mühseligen? to madrigals of love and loss by Monteverdi to works by Samuel Barber and Edward Elgar, modern Australian music by Anne Boyd, Alan Holley and Brenton Broadstock and concluded with Trois Chansons by Maurice Ravel.  Joseph Rheinberger’s gentle Abenleid provided a most fitting encore.

This ensemble goes far beyond technical expertise. Douglas Lawrence has melded the Australian Chamber Choir into a perfectly honed instrument of musical perfection. There is not a voice out of place.  The depth of talent in the choir was demonstrated by the two finely matched quintets who performed two of the three Monteverdi madrigals Lasciatemi morire and Si, ch’io vorrei morire and the selection of soloists, including the impeccable singing of soprano Elspeth Bowden in Barber’s taxing Agnus Dei, and the quartet of fine soloists in Maurice Ravel’s Quatre Chansons.  Of special note was the shimmering intensity of Anne Boyd’s As I crossed a bridge of dreams, composed in 1975.

Helen Lyth

The final presentation of this program will be the Art Gallery of NSW on Sunday September 16th at 6.30pm. 

If you missed TRUE ROMANTICS, the Melbourne performance was recorded by ABC Classic FM and presented as part of Evenings on 3rd August.  You can listen to this recording at 

Review of True Romantics Melbourne performance by Julie McErlain at

Geelong audiences will once again have the opportunity to hear the Australian Chamber Choir in their final program for 2018, A BAROQUE CHRISTMAS, to be presented on Sunday 2nd December at 3pm, at the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels.




From Dufay to Tchaikovsky: Melbourne Chamber Choir – Sunday, 19th August, 2018

Basilica of St Mary of the Angels


A small but appreciative audience was treated to a splendid concert of varied choral music on a cold, blustery afternoon.  The Melbourne Chamber Choir was conducted by David Kram (Musical Director) and Assistant Musical Director Alan Cook, who also provided organ accompaniments for the first half of the program.

The first half of the program comprised ‘a panoramic view of the history of French choral music’ from the  fourteenth century (Guillaume Dufay and Guillaume de Machaut) through to the nineteenth and twentieth century with music of Faure, Maurice Durufle and Olivier Messiaen.

The choir showed its musical versatility, leaping through the centuries from the pre-diatonic harmonies of de Marchaut’s Sanctus (from Messe de Nostre Dame) to the romantic lyricism of Cantique de Jean Racine and three movements from Requiem of Faure.  Of particular note is the Melbourne Chamber Choir’s beautiful pianissimo singing, for example, in the final unison note of Cantique de Jean Racine. There was a warmth of tone in these Faure works, especially in the final movement of the Requiem (O Paradisum). 

The first part of the concert ended with Messian’s early composition, O Sacrum Convivium, which references the music of earlier centuries and is based on plainchant.

The second half of the program was Nine Sacred Pieces, composted by Pytor Ilyich Tshaikovski, and sung in Russian.  This work is unaccompanied, with a large vocal range and full dynamics from extremely soft to full-bodied fortissimo. This work is rarely performed.  It was a pleasure to hear it in the beautiful acoustic of St Marys.

The Melbourne Chamber Choir’s final concert of the year will be a performance of the oratorio Solomon by George Frederic Handel on Sunday 25th November at 3pm at Temple Beth Israel, 75 Alma Road, St Kilda. 


The next concert in the Music at the Basilica 2018 series is on Sunday, August 26th, at 3.30pm at St Paul’s Anglican Church, La Trobe Terrace, Geelong when the Australian Chamber Choir will perform a program titled True Romantics. Please note the change of time and venue.


National Youth Choir of Australia: Thursday, July 6th, 2018

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.

After warm applause from the small but appreciative audience, an encore, Lux Aeterna – a choral setting of Edward Elgar’s Nimrod ended this beautiful concert. 

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

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.





The Savoy Singers: Sunday 15th July, 2-4.30pm

Come and join us for an afternoon of great entertainment with

The Savoy Singers


Music to make you Smile

from stage, musical theatre and opera

At Christ Church (Cnr Moorabool and McKillop Streets, Geelong)

On Sunday 15th July from 2-4.30pm

Tickets $15 at the door including sumptuous afternoon tea!

or Ph Jan 0409 176 409 or Phillip 0448 118 302 for ticket bookings

It should be a great afternoon of musical entertainment – feel free to forward this email to your family and friends, social media, Facebook etc. contacts, and come along yourself, of course!

(Dr) Phillip Swain

M 0448118302