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Western District Choral Festival 2018

The Western District Choral Festival, 2018 was hosted by The Geelong Chorale and held at the School of Performing Arts and Creative Education, Geelong Grammar School on June 17, 2018

2018-06-17-Africa2

Find reviews and photos here:

The Choral Grapevine

https://thechoralgrapevine.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/western-district-choral-festival-2018-sunday-june-17th-2018/


Entertainment Geelong

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

The venue, titled ‘SPACE’, for ‘School of Performing Arts and Creative Education’, turned out to be a sparkling new theatre complex built inside the environs of Geelong Grammar’s Corio campus.

And it proved to be perfect for this non-competitive gathering of choral groups from Victoria’s Western district.
But that intro, too, was a little misleading, for 12 of the 14 choirs were from Geelong, and rather than a gathering, this presented as a glorious celebration of group singing.
Those 14 choirs brought the width and depth, the textures, colours and diversity of sung music, from folk songs to high opera, jazz to classic pop, in a smoothly-organised procession over two hours with just a ten-minute leg-stretching break.
And in the process, they created an afternoon of musical joy for its fortunate audience.
The show began with event hosts, The Geelong Chorale, displaying its delicacy of tonal excellence with ‘O Radiant Dawn’, followed by a happy rendition of the traditional Christmas ‘Wassail’. It ended with the venue’s hosts, the Choir of Geelong Grammar School making a glorious job of Freddy Mercury’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, followed by an all-on-stage – 400 voices, according to MC John Stubbings – version of Toto’s ‘Africa’. This had everybody in the room singing do-do-do do-do doop doop dooo.. and blessing the rains down in Africa – while hoping the rains in Geelong would hold off to allow them a dry walk back to the car park.

The time in between was filled with fine music and delightful memories. The Colac Chorale brought gentle treatments of folk spirituals with ‘Black is the Colour’, ‘The Water Is Wide’ and ‘Wade In The Water’; followed by Geelong group Wonderous Merry, who continued the wet theme with ‘Soon It’s Gonna Rain’ but negated the concept by singing ‘Dem Dry Bones’ – complete with an illustrative string-puppet skeleton – as their final number.
The Apollo Bay Community Choir was next, presenting a trio of joyfully warm African-styled rhythmic numbers from their Gitika Partington songbook, including one written by the gloriously named Three-Bucket Jones.

Then came the all-female Geelong Harmony Chorus presenting vocals as sparkling as their costumes, along with some neat prestidigitation as they conjured roses while singing about ‘Looking At The World Through Rose Coloured Glasses’.
The Geelong Youth Choir began small, with its six-member Chamber Choir before expanding to 30+ voices to present its witty, clever ‘Painless Opera’ – then expanding further by melding with their adult group, Raise The Bar, to bring a little happy clapping Arabic magic with ‘Sih’r Khalaq’.
Alone, Raise The Bar gave a preview of their forthcoming GPAC play appearance with ‘We’re All Here’, then reunited with the Youth Choir to sing a cheerfully spirited ‘Jabberwocky’.
Geelong’s Jeanette John conducts two choirs, one all-female, the other all-male, and they presented back-to-back. Her Geelong Welsh Ladies Choir opened with a Welsh hymn before moving to the classic show tune ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly’, while Jeanette’s men, the International Harvester Choir, started with a spiritual, ‘Cross The Wide Missouri’, before presenting ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables and finishing with a pop version of Verdi’s chorus of Hebrew Slaves in ‘Speed Your Journey’.

Sing Australia’s Geelong group displayed crisp vocal clarity in their trio of songs that started with ‘Catch A Falling Star’ and finished with a plaintive ‘Take Me Home’. Then followed Vox Box, bringing bright Billy Joel and joyful ‘Java Jive’ before a gentle spiritual ‘Deep River’.

The U3A Geelong Choir kept that gentle flow going with a delightfully sparse version of WB Yeats’ ‘Down By The Sally Gardens’, before lifting the tempo with the Rice-Webber showtime ‘Any Dream Will Do’. This segued neatly to the Geelong College’s Community Choir’s medley of songs from the Four Seasons’ Jersey Boys musical – and this led to the immaculately blue-blazered entry of the Grammar School Choir to sing a spirited ‘Jerusalem’, a gentle ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ – then that wonderful ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ before the all-on-stage finale.
In total, everything came together; the superb venue, the different personalities of choirs and wide variety of their content to create what was simply a wonderful afternoon of joyful song.

– Colin Mockett


Many thanks to Helen Lyth of The Choral Grapevine for her wonderful photos of the event.

Handel Dixit Dominus 2018

G F Handel, Coronation Anthems and Dixit Dominus

THE GEELONG CHORALE with instrumental ensemble
Conductor Allister Cox
Soloists: Lee Abrahmsen, soprano; Emily Swanson, soprano; Colm Talbot, alto; Terence McManus, tenor; Will Humphreys, baritone
Sunday April 29, 2018 at 2.30pm
Wesley Church, 100 Yarra St, Geelong

Photos

 

Reviews

Helen Lyth, The Choral Grapevine

Dixit Dominus and Coronation Anthems – The Geelong Chorale

https://thechoralgrapevine.wordpress.com/2018/05/03/dixit-dominus-and-coronation-anthems-the-geelong-chorale/

Colin Mockett, Entertainment Geelong

This had to be just about the Geelong Chorale’s perfect concert.

Its content, two significant works by George Frederic Handel, written 20 years apart and for very different occasions, was executed just about flawlessly.
Their guest soloists were impressive, their scratch orchestra of a high quality and the overall reception couldn’t have been better.
This concert twice drew long, wholehearted applause from its appreciative audience that continued through several bows from choristers, soloists and orchestra until conductor/director Allister Cox finally gestured to end them with calming waves of his hand.
He had chosen to reverse the listed order by putting the most difficult piece first. This was Dixit Dominus, written in 1707 when Handel was in his early 20s and commissioned to create a musical version of the words of God.
A feature of concerts led by Allister Cox are his illuminating and interesting introductions and this was no exception. He neatly put the work into its time, place and perspective.
But after that, the Chorale and guests delivered a 30-minute oratorio that had all the required delicacy, strength and power to exactly illustrate their conductor’s words – one that would have certainly brought the glory of God to its 18th Century congregation.
The 10 segments ranged from muted intricacy – Virgam virtuosi delivered by alto Colm Talbut accompanied by organ, cello and bass, while Tecum principium had Lee Abrahmsen’s (literally) glorious soprano voice soaring over chorale and orchestra to swirl around the rafters of the acoustically and visually suitable venue. There were moments of rare musical delicacy, with Ms Lee Abrahmsen, duetting with fellow-soprano Emily Swanson; and of robust vigour, with the male chorale and soloists combining to bring De torrente in via to sturdy life. And it all climaxed in glorious splendour drawing that first burst of sustained applause quietened by the first conductor’s gesture.

Following a short interval, Chorale and guests presented Handel’s Coronation Anthems, written in 1727 and performed at every British coronation since, Allister’s introduction informed.
This was fascinating on several levels, not the least because it drew into perspective the Germanic elements of British Royalty, for the work’s commissioner, George I, its original recipient, George II and its creator were all German-born.
The works also illustrated not only Handel’s musical maturation, but also his differences in interpreting the words of God to the glory of a monarch.

The Coronation Anthems were all bright, triumphant and illustrious, beginning with the magnificent Zadok the Priest, delivered with equal amounts of finesse and vigour by the Chorale and its orchestra augmented by trumpets, oboes and timpani.

The anthems oratorio brought larger prominence to soloist tenor Terence MacManus and baritone William Humphreys, whose discreet trips between his regular central position in the Chorale to take his place with the other soloists became a charming feature.

But above all its component parts, this concert’s memorable element was the quality of its music and it’s professional delivery.

All together, this elegant concert would have significantly enhanced the reputation of our principal choral ensemble.
And that has to be the perfect result to a near-perfect musical afternoon.

Thanks to Colin Mockett at http://www.entertainmentgeelong.com/colinmockett/Reviews.html

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.

 

Reviews

Christmas Around the World – The Geelong Chorale: December 2nd, 2017
All Saints Church, Noble Street, Newtown.  Saturday, December 2nd, 5pm.
https://thechoralgrapevine.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/christmas-around-the-world-the-geelong-chorale-december-2nd-2017/

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/

A Christmas Celebration 2016

Our exciting Christmas concert held on Saturday December 3, 2016 at 5pm.

This concert, at Wesley Church in Yarra St, Geelong, featured harpist Jacinta Dennett.

Joining us was the Geelong Handbell Choir.

We performed Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and its companion piece, Southern Star – a collection of the poems of Michael Leunig set to music by Christopher Willcock.

Review

Leunig and liners in a Christmas surprise package

Colin Mockett (www.entertainmentgeelong.com)

Gallery

 

When icicles hang

Some photos from our cafe concert on July 30, 2016. A great evening’s entertainment.

Directed by Allister Cox

Accompanist Kristine Mellens.

Soloist Siân Tegan Williams

Master of Ceremonies Colin Mockett.

 

Across the English Channel

Across the English Channel – romantic choral music from England and France. Anthems by Parry, Holst, Vaughan Williams and Elgar, and Solemn Mass by Louis Vierne with guest organist, Dion Henman.
St Paul’s Anglican Church, LaTrobe Tce, Geelong.
Sunday April 17 2016 at 3.00pm.
Conducted by Allister Cox.

Reviews:

Chorale Channels the Sacred Divide
Colin Mockett, Entertainment Geelong
http://entertainmentgeelong.com/colinmockett/Reviews.html

The Choral Grapevine: Across the Channel: The Geelong Chorale
https://thechoralgrapevine.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/across-the-channel-the-geelong-chorale/

Across the English Channel

Photos by Helen Lyth.:

Getting underway for 2016

Rehearsals have commenced for 2016. Our first concert is on April 17 at 3pm at St Paul’s Anglican Church in LaTrobe Terrace. We will present a program of romantic English and French choral music, including the Solemn Mass by Louis Vierne, accompanied by Dion Henman, organist at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne.

Come along and see us at Pako Festa on Saturday February 27 at 3.40pm. We are performing at the Diversitat Stage.

Last Afternoon of the Proms

Last Afternoon of the Proms, at 3pm on Sunday 16 August at St Luke’s Uniting Church, 172 Barrabool Rd., Highton.

Favourite songs and anthems from the British Isles.

Photos from the concert

Videos:
Zadok the Priest
The Blue Bird
Rule, Brittania
Land of Hope and Glory

Review – “Chorale’s Glorious Proms need no orchestra” Colin Mockett
Review – The Choral Grapevine
Proms 2015