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Christmas around the World 2017

The Geelong Chorale in association with the Geelong Handbell Choir performed ‘Christmas Around the World’ on Saturday December 2 2017 at 5pm at All Saints Anglican Church, Newtown.

 

Review

An Unconventional Christmas from the Chorale

Christmas Around The World, sung by The Geelong Chorale  conducted by Allister Cox. All Saints Anglican Church, Newtown December 2, 2017.

The Geelong Chorale’s annual Christmas concert has become a tradition in itself, going back to the time the group was called ‘The GAMA Singers’ presenting carols and wassail songs in the Geelong Art Gallery. That took place for most of the second half of the 20th Century.

But that was then. This is now, and our Gallery, now re-badged to ‘Geelong Gallery’ has no room for singers as it pursues other agendas. This year it was crowded with Archibald visitors.
So for most of this century, our Chorale has chosen to present its annual Christmas song feasts in different venues, usually chosen for the quality of their acoustics.
So it was that we gathered in Newtown’s All Saints church – itself newly refurbished and furnished – to experience another episode of a Geelong convention.
But that wasn’t what the Chorale had in mind. This time, they presented a Christmas concert laced with surprise and refinement, with songs chosen from a much wider spectrum. The world, no less. Though, on second thoughts, it’s probably safer to say the Christian world.
The concert started unconventionally, with the Chorale entering with its female members chorusing very good impressions of kookaburras which melded into Matthew Orlovich’s Australian carol ‘If Christ Had Been Born In Another Time’ – all delivered from the back of the church, behind the audience. This resounding piece, echoing around the venue’s high rafters, set the standard for what was a glorious mix of unusual with conventional material.
So we heard a delightfully sweet  all-female version of the Dutch carol ‘King Jesus Hath A Garden’ delivered by the Chorale’s women conducted by Ann Pilgrim, and later the men sang a West Indian calypso carol ‘De Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy’ with tall, slim, Anglo baritone, William Humphries, more than doing justice to the Harry Belafonte lead part.

We heard the full Chorale delight with the traditional French piece ‘Il est ne, le devin enfant’,  accompanied by Frank De Rosso on the church’s organ, a moving Czech song ‘Rocking’ – and were invited to join in with what we learned was a Finnish tune to a Bohemian story – Good King Wenceslas.  Kristine Mellens, as ever, contributed subtle accompaniment
on the piano.
The songs were divided into brackets with subheadings ‘The Prophesy’ ‘The Birth’ ‘The Shepherds’ etc with now-customary excellent introductions and explanations from the Chorale’s director/conductor Allister Cox.
Before the interval – during which we were served with sparkling wine and Christmas cake, no less –  came another tradition, when the Chorale’s familiar guests, the Geelong Handbell Choir,  presented six short pieces that reflected the concert’s theme in the most charming way.
So after a brilliant chiming of the  Fanfare to ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, we heard a French, an Australian and a Canadian carol delivered by the bells which finished with a harmonic version of Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’.  All greatly appreciated and applauded.
The concert’s second half started with a New Zealand jewel and strung along with Canadian, Spanish, and Ukranian seasonal pieces, set with the beautiful ‘Coventry Carol’ lament, the musical fun of a Czech ‘Zither Carol’ (with the male chorus singing ‘zum zing zing’) and a beautifully tonal ‘Silent Night’  – before finishing in traditional style with ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ followed by ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’.

In all, this was a delightful, unconventional way to continue a fine tradition – and even the weather contributed a northern-hemisphere cold, wet -and very un-Australian – afternoon.

Colin Mockett

Entertainment Geelong

Last Night of the Proms

The Geelong Chorale is partnering with The Geelong Symphony Orchestra for ‘Last Night of the Proms’ on Friday evening, October 27, and Saturday afternoon, October 28 2017 at Costa Hall, Deakin Waterfront Campus. Tickets available from GPAC – www.gpac.org.au Ph 5225 1200

Review

The Last Night Of The Proms Geelong Symphony Orchestra and guests. Costa Hall October 27, 2017.

There was an expectant atmosphere before the first (Friday night) ‘final’ concert in the series delivered during this year by Geelong Symphony Orchestra. We are fortunate to have such an accomplished group of players in this city, and they certainly gave good reason for continued regional pride, performing a lively set of popular classics with verve and great skill.
The Last Night of the Proms is typically fun-filled and a little silly, perhaps beyond the comfort zone of most of Geelong’s concert-going audience. Our compere Colin Mockett appeared at first in costume, cape and helmet, and announced that we were to hear ‘a selection of Darth Vader’s greatest hits’, which helped to set the tone of the evening as the first item was from the Star Wars Suite by John Williams. His masterful and dynamic orchestration was excitingly reproduced by our orchestra, conducted with verve by Dr. Kevin Cameron, and the standard of performance was set at a very high level.
Some of the history and popularity of the Prom series (originally ‘promenade’ concerts, held in parks in London) was outlined, before the introduction of 24-year-old Riley Skevington, recent national winner of the Australian Youth Classical Music prize. He played the 3rd movement of Brahms’ Concerto in D, written in 1878 at about the time of the earliest Proms and regarded as one of the greatest, with all the features of virtuosic and sensitive violin playing.
The Geelong Chorale, augmented to about 70 voices in the gallery and rehearsed over recent months by Allister Cox, joined the orchestra for Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances no. 17, a perennial favourite at The Proms. This exotic-sounding music, with gorgeous oboe and horn solos and plenty of percussive highlights, was a resounding success, with excellent balance achieved between choir and players.
Manfred Pohlenz brought his huge bass baritone voice and theatrical gestures to one of the most familiar of all classical pieces to Geelong’s population, the Toreador’s Song from Carmen, sung mostly in French but with a cheeky gesture to football fans by the addition of a ‘Cats’ scarf and jumper, at which point Manfred encouraged all to join the singing of our team’s theme song, in English of course.
After interval, William Walton’s Crown Imperial (A Coronation March) made a fine brassy fanfare with lots of percussion featured. Then the audience was encouraged to sing along with the Chorale to Hubert Parry’s wartime anthem ‘Jerusalem’ (orchestrated in fine style by Sir Edward Elgar) – but while the tune is well known, the words are not and a search of the program was futile. Elgar’s own Pomp and Circumstance March, another regular feature of Proms final nights, finally prompted some (rather subdued) flag-waving, and the singing would have been joined far more enthusiastically had we access to the words.
A strong rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus followed, of which many can sing various parts (not necessarily consistently or accurately!) from memory, and audience members valiantly tried to do so. The final item was an adventurous choice, an Australian work by a contemporary composer, Gavin Lockley (not yet 40 years old) which combined the singing of Dorothea McKellar’s poem ‘My Country’ over ‘Australia’ repeated by the choir. It also updated the orchestral requirements with the inclusion of guitar, bass and drum kit, and on first hearing was stirring but a little confusing. It is to be hoped that further performances will make such modern works better known. However, applause for the performers was long and very enthusiastic and after some hesitation resulted in an encore of Elgar’s March in its entireity, which should have been expected and could probably have been abbreviated.
Geelong Symphony Orchestra and The Geelong Chorale are to be congratulated for the standard of music-making throughout. On Friday evening the audience participated only timidly, but I have heard that children in particular enjoyed Saturday afternoon’s repeat concert. Despite the intention of the programming and levity of our compere, it seemed Geelong is not quite ready to make light of beloved classics, but certainly appreciates the quality of music-making in our city.
– Marie Goldsworthy

From: http://www.entertainmentgeelong.com/colinmocke…/Reviews.html

Voices of our Time

‘Voices of our Time’ – music by contemporary composers
Sunday August 27 at 2.30pm at All Saints Church, 113 Noble St Geelong.

Including the sublime Lux Aeterna by Morten Lauridsen; Three Flower Songs by Eric Whitacre; and songs by our local composer, Malcolm John.

Reviews

Entertainment Geelong
New works present a challenge well met by our Chorale
Voices Of Our Time, presented by the Geelong Chorale, conducted by Allister Cox, All Saints’ Church, Newtown, Sunday August 27
http://www.entertainmentgeelong.com/colinmockett/Reviews.html

Choral Grapevine
Voices of our Time: Sunday August 27 2017
https://thechoralgrapevine.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/voices-of-our-time-sunday-august-27-2017/

Singing the Classics June 2017

The second ‘Singing the Classics’ for 2018 was Mozart’s Requiem.

We had a large ensemble of over 60 people to sing this great work.

Thanks to Malcolm John, our patient conductor for the day, and Sonoka Miyake for her beautiful accompaniment.

Also thanks to our soloists and trombonist!

Eileen Martin memorial concert

Last Sunday, we had the honour of being asked to join the Geelong Youth Choir, as well as other local choirs, at a concert in memory of the youth choir’s founder, Eileen Martin. Eileen was also a life member of The Geelong Chorale.

Here is a video of our performance – we sang 2 spiritual songs from our recent American concert.

Video by Rob Jane.

An American Portrait

An American Portrait – Sunday May 21 at 2:30pm, Wesley Church, Yarra Street, Geelong

2017-AmericanPortrait

Review by Helen Lyth in the Choral Grapevine

https://thechoralgrapevine.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/an-american-portrait-the-geelong-chorale/

Review by Colin Mockett at Entertainment Geelong

http://www.entertainmentgeelong.com/colinmockett/Reviews.html

This unusual concert for the Chorale was reportedly not to every member’s taste. Some singers were believed to hold the view that our region’s premier choir should stick to its traditional material, drawn from classical and/or sacred musical catalogues.
But for this reviewer – and, I’d hazard, a clear audience majority – this concert was just perfect. Sure, there were some challenging moments, but for the most part, this was a concert of delight.
It took the form of five different groups of well-known American songs, each having their backgrounds explained by the knowledgeable Allister Cox before being delivered with clarity and dexterity by the Chorale.
To this history and music buff, this was concert nirvana. It was entertaining, enlightening, informative – and delivered in the most stylish musical way.
Following a short, humorous intro from Director Cox, ‘we planned this concert a year ago before political events in America overtook us..’ including a well-delivered mock Trump call, he went on to explain the context of the first group of spirituals, neatly detailing their roots in the deep south’s slavery era. Then the Chorale delivered Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Soon Ah Will Be Done, Deep River and Ain’t Got Time To Die with joy and care if not quite the jubilation of a revivalist meeting.
Then followed a Stephen Foster medley following Allister’s potted biography which noted that the author of so many of America’s landmark tunes died with just 40c in his pocket. The Chorale, in unfamiliar but effective formation with tenors front and centre, then delivered I Dream Of Jeanie, My Old Kentucky Home and Beautiful Dreamer with sensitive élan.
A folksong section followed, with Shenandoah, The Riddle Song, Long Time Ago and Ching-A-Ring Chaw receiving the concert’s explanation before refined delivery treatment, and then a trio of Art Songs in Samuel Barber’s Sure on this Shining Night, Randall Thompson’s ironic 1940 multi-layered Alleluia and Stephen Paulus’ The Road Home.
Then came a build-up to the concert’s finale in a section titled ‘Medleys from the Shows’. This preamble told us, among other things, that George Gershwin sought classical training when he was the most successful songwriter in the world and that Judy Garland’s Over The Rainbow was almost cut from The Wizard of Oz as being too slow. Highlights in this section included an amazing number of hit references rolled into the chorale’s Gershwin medley; Helen Seymour and John Stubbings’ duet in Cole Porter’s Night and Day – and the Chorale’s enthusiastic delivery of the thigh-slapping theme tune for Oklahoma!
The concert’s finale was, almost inevitably, the rousing Battle Hymn of the Republic – but only after Director Cox had explained just who John Brown was, and why his body mouldered in the grave.
As always, pianist Kristine Mellens gave the Chorale her fine, unobtrusive support – and I believe that the enthusiastic final applause would have won over even the most sceptical chorister.
For this was a concert of unexpected delights.
— Colin Mockett

 

Singing the Classics March 19 2017

The first “Singing the Classics” today.
Tom Healey lead us in Requiem by John Rutter, with Sonoka Miyake accompanying.
A great afternoon singing.

Photos here

Calling all singers

The Geelong Chorale is partnering with The Geelong Symphony Orchestra for ‘Last Night of the Proms’ on Friday evening, October 27, and Saturday afternoon, October 28 2017.

We are seeking any interested singers who would like to augment our choir and be a part of these exciting concerts to be held at Costa Hall.
The Geelong Chorale will perform Polovtsian Dances by Borodin in the first half of the program. The second half of the concert will include the usual Proms’ fare including Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory, I Vow to Thee, My Country, as well as the Toreador Song from Carmen.

It is a wonderful opportunity to sing with a full symphony orchestra on the big stage of Costa Hall in front of a large audience. The conductor for this concert is Kevin Cameron, Director of Middle School Music at Geelong Grammar School.

​Rehearsals commence Monday September 4 2017, and are held weekly every Monday night from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at St Luke’s Uniting Church, Barrabool Rd, Highton. Rehearsals with the orchestra will be held on the afternoon of Sunday October 8 (venue to be advised); and in the evening of Monday October 23 at Costa Hall; and Thursday October 26 at Costa Hall.

You will need to be able to read music, sing in tune and attend most rehearsals. Our musical director, Allister Cox, will listen to you sing to ensure you are placed in the correct position in the choir. Cost will be a one off payment of $20 to cover insurance.

If you would like to join us in this very exciting venture, please let our secretary, Angela West, know your name, email address and what part you sing, and we will add you to the list!

Angela West
Secretary
The Geelong Chorale
PO Box 352
Geelong VIC 3220
(03) 5244 7285
thegeelongchorale@gmail.com

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Concerts in 2017

For your diary – the Chorale will put on 3 concerts in 2017:

American Portrait, Sunday May 21 at 2:30pm, Wesley Church, Yarra Street, Geelong

Voices of Our Time – music of contemporary composers such as Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen. Sunday August 27 at 2:30pm, All Saints Anglican Church, Noble Street, Newtown

Christmas Carols Concert, Saturday December 2 at 5pm, All Saints Anglican Church, Noble Street, Newtown

Open full day rehearsal

The Chorale is starting off the 2017 year with an open full day rehearsal on Sat 4 Feb, from 10am-4pm, at St Luke’s Uniting Church, 174 Barrabool Road, Highton.

We will be rehearsing music for our first concert of the year, a progamme of American-themed items.

All singers are welcome to this open rehearsal. Come along and see what the Chorale is all about.