Tom Healey, accompanied by wonderful Sonoka Miyake, took an enthusiastic group of singers through Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana on Sunday 7 April at St Luke’s. Our first ‘Singing the Classics’ for 2019.
An exciting year coming up for the Chorale! Here are the dates for your diaries.
• Friday May 10, 2019 – concert for Music at the Basilica’s annual Windfire Festival at St Mary of the Angels Basilica.
• Sunday May 26, 2019 – Music at the Basilica Massed Choirs Concert at St Mary of the
Angels Basilica. Geelong Chorale members will be participating.
• Sunday August 18, 2019 – Opera and Operettas concert.
• Saturday December 7, 2019 – Christmas carols concert.
The Geelong Chorale presented a concert to acknowledge the centenary of the WW1 Armistice. Sunday 11 November 2018, 2:30pm, St Paul’s Anglican Church Latrobe Terrace, Geelong
The Choral Grapevine: In Remembrance: Sunday, November 11, 2018
Entertainment Geelong: https://entertainmentgeelong.com/reviews-2018
A concert of additional significance
In Remembrance, presented by The Geelong Chorale, director AllisterCox, St Paul’s Church, November 11, 2018,
The date, November 11, 2018 marked 100 years since the signing of the armistice that brought an end to the Great War.
It was commemorated in Geelong with two extraordinary musical concerts held in different churches, both chosen for their acoustics rather than secular symbolism.
The first, held on the evening on Friday November 9 in St Mary’s Basilica is reviewed below.
This, second concert, was held on the afternoon of the date itself, November 11, in St Paul’s Church.
Although organised separately and by different groups, the concerts shared similarities. There was a core of singers involved in both events, but that was hardly surprising, considering that they sought to recruit the best available voices in our region.
They shared a common format, in linking the music with the recitation of poems written at the time. And both concerts used Wilfred Owen’s Anthem For Doomed Youth and Edward Elgar’s For The Fallen as early introductory works.
But there the similarities ended.
For where the St Mary’s concert had chosen to illustrate the war’s massive orgy of death and destruction in its selection of works, this concert chose to celebrate the peace that followed the armistice’s signing.
As such, the two concerts actually complimented each other, both musically and historically.
This one, organised by The Geelong Chorale with its conductor Allister Cox and guest soloists, consisted of two major works written four years apart – either side of the war – to illustrate the emotions at those times. There were other, smaller works adding contrast and colour.
The afternoon’s theme was set by the Chorale’s Tim Gibson, released from his singing duties to read selected poems with gravity and clarity. He opened the concert by reading Siegfried Sassoon’s poem Aftermath. This was followed by the chorale singing Matthew Orlovich’s Lest We Forget before Tim read For The Fallen, containing the now-immortalised lines ‘age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn..’ put into its correct context.
This led to the Chorale singing Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth before delivering Elgar’s For the Fallen in full, with all of its dark, challenging complexities. This mammoth piece was faultlessly delivered by the Chorale and soprano soloist, Fiona Squires, accompanied by Kristine Mellens’ piano and with input from Jess Morris’ clarinet.
Then, following a short interval, the concert’s second half was almost entirely given over to Theodore Dubois’ Messe de la Déliverance, written to thank God for bringing peace at the war’s end.
This work’s seven segments of soaring praise and triumphal hosannas not only contrasted what had gone before, it was delivered in Latin with plenty of sacred musical complexities.
And the Chorale delivered a near-faultless performance, accompanied by Beverley Phillips at the church’s organ, with two excellent soloists in tenor David Campbell and baritone Manfred Pohlenz.
In an unusual touch, David and Manfred, while seated in front of the Chorale between their solos, joined in with its male voices in their big choral movements.
And together, they sent the Chorale’s voices – and that sacred thanks – soaring and resounding through the venue’s excellent acoustics.
And it brought such a suitable, and memorable, end to the weekend of remembrance.
– Colin Mockett
“Singing the Classics”, on Sunday 12th August, at Wesley Church, 100 Yarra Street, Geelong from 2-5pm, was enjoyed by everyone. Our own Anne Pilgrim took us through Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams. John Bumford was our talented accompanist for the day.
Dona Nobis Pacem is a 6-movement cantata, in which Vaughan Williams has chosen text from Walt Whitman, written to describe why war should never occur again. Some OT texts are included, too. Whitman was a medical orderly in the American Civil War and had experience of the effects of war, and his poetry is alive with feeling. The work is very much a choral work, with the orchestra used to support the meaning of the texts, and solo soprano and baritone lines set beautifully. We’ve chosen it for its beauty and because of the proximity of the centenary of Armistice Day.
Watch out for the announcement of the program for 2019 soon.
Sunday 5 August 2018, Requiem by Faure and other French choral music.
St Paul’s Anglican Church, LaTrobe Terrace, Geelong at 2.30pm.
The Stars Aligned in Concert
Fauré Requiem with motets by Fauré, Duruflé, Gounod, Franck & Villette sung by the Geelong Chorale, conducted by Allister Cox. St Paul’s Church, August 5, 2018.
Only rarely does it happen, when the stars align, the ducks are in a row, all the hard-work preparation pays off and fortune smiles on a single performance.
That all happened with this concert.
I don’t think that I have ever heard the Geelong Chorale in better voice. What’s more, its choice of material and soloists was perfect, the venue’s acoustics allowed pinpoint clarity – and the audience relished every note, every flourish and every syllable of conductor Allister’s introductory remarks.
This was a concert that grew to become a memorable occasion.
Its music was drawn mostly from the works of 19th Century French composers with Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem the principal work, taking up all of the concert’s second half.
For this, the Chorale had brought in soprano soloist Lisa Breen, whose warm, rounded tones and precise clarity was perfect for the solo piece Pie Jesu; and baritone Tom Healey, who matched Lisa for precision and added elements of power and pathos in his Libera Me.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard Lisa or Tom sing better, either. Their voices jigsawed seamlessly into the flawless elegant rendition that the Chorale was providing.
Add in Frank De Rosso’s masterly accompaniment on the St Paul’s pipe organ – which must, surely be the best in our region – and the combined interpretation could only be described as glorious.
And that was, if you like, only the main course.
We had been prepared for this by a series of appetisers starting with the well-known favourite in Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus delivered by the Chorale with al the warmth and flavour you would expect from bread made in heaven. This was followed by six short motets from De Several, Duruflé Saint-Saëns, Villette and Fauré along with a resounding version of Gounod’s Ave Maria featuring soloist Lisa.
The Chorale, for this concert, was smaller than usual and in an unfamiliar formation. Its eleven sopranos were ranged to conductor Allister’s left, with his 13 altos to the right, separated by the central male component of three tenors and seven basses.
Whether it was this configuration, the reduced size, or perhaps the make-up of voices, but this format sounded simply glorious given those perfect acoustics in St Paul’s church.
And such was their appreciation that following the performance, many audience members remained, waiting to congratulate the conductor, soloists, accompanist and individual Chorale members as they trickled in, wearing the satisfied smiles of people who knew they had made a first-class performance of an excellent concert, and all on a day when the god(s) were smiling, too.
— Colin Mockett
In Paradisum – rehearsal video
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
Find reviews and photos here:
The Choral Grapevine
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.
Sunday 10th June, 2018
St Lukes Church, Highton
Gilbert and Sullivan Choruses
Thanks to Helen Lyth of The Choral Grapevine for her article on this Singing the Classics afternoon.
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
Helen Lyth, The Choral Grapevine
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
Find out more about our fun afternoon Singing the Classics on Sunday 18 March in an article on the Choral Grapevine.