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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/

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