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.
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. http://www.nyca.org.au/tickets
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.
Come and join us for an afternoon of great entertainment with
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
The Space, Geelong Grammar School
Festival hosts – The Geelong Chorale
Today’s festival was a celebration of song and the joy that people obtain from singing together in groups. Fourteen choirs participated in an afternoon of fine music making and friendship. It was a chance for choirs to perform at their best. They did not disappoint.
The program began with the host choir, The Geelong Chorale, and was introduced by John Stubbings OAM, who acted as MC throughout the afternoon.
The music ranged from a 16th century madrigal, to folk songs from around the world, through popular songs, songs from musical theatre and old favourites. Even opera had its place, with a delightful rendition of ‘Painless Opera’ by Phyllis Wolfe-White by the Geelong Youth Choir. The smallest group was 8 voices (The Geelong Youth Chamber Choir), the largest around 40 voices (The Geelong Chorale). There were youth choirs, mixed choirs, a female choir (Welsh Ladies Choir), and a male choir (International Harvester Choir). The youngest singers were of primary school age, and the oldest at least 90.
As Geelong is at the eastern end of the WDCF region, many choirs came from the Geelong area. The two groups from further afield, Colac Chorale and Apollo Bay Community Choir were warmly welcomed and greatly enhanced the afternoon’s singing.
The afternoon ended with all singers merging onto the stage for a massed choir performance of “Africa”, conducted by Jodie Townsend, Director of Music at Geelong Grammar School.
It is interesting to note that The International Harvester Male Chorus (formed in 1943) may be the oldest continuously performing choir in Australia in its current form. Raise the Bar, the adult section of The Geelong Youth Choir will be the featured choir for a forthcoming performance of “The Events” at GPAC. Geelong Harmony Chorus are fresh from a very successful Sweet Adelines Convention in Hobart, where they were placed fourth overall, and third in their section.
At the close of the Festival, Frank Sykes, Vice-President of The Geelong Chorale, handed over the Festival to The Merri Singers from Warrnambool who will host the festival in 2019.
Participating Choirs: The Geelong Chorale, Colac Chorale, Wondrous Merry, Apollo Bay Community Choir, Geelong Youth Choir, Raise the Bar Vocal Group, Geelong Harmony Chorus, Welsh Ladies Choir, International Harvester Choir, Sing Australia, Geelong, Vox Box, U3A Geelong Choir, Geelong College Community Choir, The Choir of Geelong Grammar School.
Thanks to The Geelong Chorale, especially their hard working committee, and secretary Angela West, Geelong Grammar School and Jodie Townsend, for accommodating the festival in the excellent performing arts space and all participating choirs and their conductors and accompanists. Thanks also to City of Greater Geelong for their support.
Download a copy of the Western District Choral Festival 2018 program here.
Western Heights Uniting Church
Once again this accomplished women’s barbershop choir presented a preview of their items for the annual Sweet Adeline’s Convention and Regional Competition. This year’s event is to be held in Hobart from 17-20 May. As usual there was a packed house of followers, families and other music lovers.
Geelong Harmony is conducted by Alex Morris, a multi-talented musical dynamo, who introduced the choir under ‘competition conditions’ as if he were MC at the convention.
From the appearance of the first singers this group showed their professionalism, ascending the choir risers with relaxed precision. The music began with one note – tuning from an electronic A, a la orchestra! Then the chorus launched into the first of their two competition pieces At Last My Love has come Along and Looking at the World Through Rose Coloured Glasses. The choir not only sounds wonderful, but is also a visual treat. All eyes focus (adoringly) on musical director Alex, with gestures facial expressions reflecting the emotional impact of the music. The blend is impeccable, harmony precise, and diction clear. The ebb and flow of tempo in the first song was faultless. Dynamics ranged from very soft to full fortissimo, without any loss of vocal tone. However, it’s the overwhelming joy in singing and sense of togetherness and warmth that is the overriding impression of this fine group.
At the start of Rose Coloured Glasses, two singers wooed Alex with bouquets of spangled red roses. By the end of the piece, every singer sported either a large sparkly red rosette or was holding a shimmering red bloom. Not to be outdone, Alex Morris now sported a rose-emblazoned waist coat!
After thunderous applause, and a pause for a publicity photo and raffle draw, the concert resumed with quartets. Three Geelong Harmony quartets will be competing at Hobart this year. Two were represented in the Sneak Peek concert, as well as a mixed quartet – giving Alex Morris the chance to show off his vocal abilities as lead. This quartet, called Around the Blend, comprises two members of Geelong Harmony, Alex, and the husband of one of the chorus – and had come second in a barbershop competition last year. They presented If Ever I Would Leave You (from Camelot), and I Got Rhythm.
Only two of the women’s quartets were available to perform at Sneak Peek. The first was Push Play who sang Are You Lonesome Tonight and Back in the Old Routine with precision and lots of humour – and a surprise tap dance at the end from one talented member. This was followed by Something Else, who, attired in long black frocks and sporting identical ‘diamond’ necklaces, sang Who’s Fifty Now – a riotous song with lots of theatrical interplay. The second piece I Won’t Care… if You Love Me showed a fine togetherness and some beautiful singing from the top voice – with an exquisitely controlled extended long high note in the final chord.
Geelong Harmony then returned to the stage to repeat their contest songs, and also presented some other items from their repertoire – Blue Indigo, Constant Cravings (the only diction glitch occurred here – at least one audience member heard ‘constant gravy’), and Under the Southern Skies. Finally, Alex Morris invited all past and present members of Geelong Harmony Chorus to join the competition group to sing one of the group’s signature pieces How We Sang Tonight. It was a joyful night of fine music-making.
We wish Geelong Harmony Chorus well for their singing in Hobart. We know that, whatever the outcome of the competition, all the singers will have a wonderful time, with lots of music, friendship and laughter.
Keep watching the Choral Grapevine and Geelong Harmony’s Facebook page to hear news from Hobart and see lots more photos.