Over the centuries, some of the finest choral music has been composed to celebrate coronations, weddings and funerals of members of the British Royal Family. This recital of famous and less well-known items will be a suitable prelude to the Coronation of His Majesty, King Charles III, a few hours later. Join us for this festive celebration and feel especially patriotic!
Saturday 6th May at 2:30pm
All Saints Church, Cnr Noble and Talbot Sts Newtown
Tickets: $35 Adult $30 Concession
This year, our Christmas concert featured the carols of John Rutter. Born in 1945, Rutter is considered to be the most celebrated and popular composer of Christmas music alive today. His music displays influences of the English and French choral traditions of the 20th century as well as light music and American classic songwriting. A review in the London Evening Standard said, “For the infectiousness of his melodic invention and consummate craftsmanship, Rutter has few peers”. The Geelong Chorale performed a selection of his best known original compositions along with some of his masterful arrangements. There were also other popular carols, some with audience participation.
Saturday 10th December 2022 5pm
All Saints’ Church, Cnr Noble and Talbot Sts Newtown
The Very Best Time Of The Year presented by The Geelong Chorale conductor Allister Cox, December 10, All Saints’ Church, Newtown.
Each year since the mid 20th Century, the Geelong Chorale has staged a Christmas concert in a suitably elegant and acoustically pleasing local venue. For many years this was the Geelong Gallery but for the past decade or so, the annual event has been held in Newtown’s All Saints Church. Every concert has been different and eclectic but with common themes. You won’t hear songs about Santa, reindeer or jingling bells at a Geelong Chorale Christmas concert. You’re much more likely to be taken back to celebrations from Yule times of yore. You’ll also get a glimpse of how the season is celebrated internationally.
This year, the Chorale’s musical director, Allister Cox, chose to feature the carols of a living composer, John Rutter. An Englishman born in 1945, Rutter is considered to be the most celebrated and popular composer of Christmas music alive today. He’s particularly popular in America. His music carries influences of English and French choral traditions as well as from America’s light music songbooks.
The Chorale dedicated the entire first half of this concert to his works, then, following a short interval, presented a mix of Carols old and new, with an invitation for the audience to join them.
The concert’s overall title The Very Best Time Of The Year was lifted from the first song, a sweet, lyrical opening introduction to Rutter’s composition skills. The 30+ Chorale voices blended lyrically to present it with a high Geelong polish that continued through the entire concert. The second piece, Shepherds’ Pipe Carol, was a jaunty air featuring the Chorale’s tenor voices, while the next, What Sweeter Music, featured the soprano section who were, indeed, sweet. Then followed the first of five songs that Rutter had not written, but arranged for the group that he founded, the world renowned Cambridge Singers.
The French Carol Born To Earth, the Divine Christ Child was followed by a Cornish traditional piece Sans Day Carol – instantly recognisable as the more familiar The Holly And The Ivy.
A Little Child on the Earth Has Been Born was set to a traditional Flemish melody and Quem Pastores Laudavere a 14th Century German carol sung in Latin.
These were themselves arranged around John Rutter’s own Nativity Carol and neatly topped off with his bright and cheerful Star Carol.
The concert’s second half Carols Old And New alternated well-known Christmas songs – where the audience was invited to sing along – with some well-chosen new works.
It began with the standard O Come All Ye Faithful, nicely delivered by the Chorale, though we audience were a little bashful. The new work that followed, O Magnum mysterium was a solemn 1994 piece written in Latin by Morten Lauridsen. It was followed by the traditional The First Nowell, again neatly delivered by the Chorale, with tentative audience participation. The Angels and the Shepherds was next, a traditional Bohemian favourite that was much loved by Chorale tenor Milena Idris when she was a child, according to conductor Allister Cox’s introduction. Then, before the next traditional piece, Good King Wenceslas, he told of the song’s controversial beginnings, of how it began as a traditional European Spring celebration song that was appropriated and reworked to become a Christmas staple much to the annoyance of purists. This brought an immediate audience response as we found our voices to match the Chorale and deliver a rousing version.
Then followed a lyrical German piece Susanni (Lullaby) then Silent Night, Holy Night, a stirring Hark The Herald Angels Singbefore the afternoon’s finale, a modern Australian song by Matthew Orlovich, If Christ had been born in another time which posed the questions ‘If Mary and Joseph had travelled through the Australian outback, would there have been no room in the pub?’ ‘Would they have been turned away while drovers and stockmen jostled the bar toasting the end of the day?’ And ‘Would the Wise Men have brought gifts of perfume and oil from the eucalypt tree or gold from a river’s bed?’
The writer called for this song to be opened and closed with the sound of Kookaburras, a challenge which the Chorale joyfully accepted to bring their 2023 Christmas concert to a unique – and delightful – conclusion.
As part of the Windfire Festival Program The Geelong Chorale is pleased to join the Windfire Choir in presenting
St John Passion by JS Bach
Joseph Hie, Conductor
Robert Macfarlane, Evangelist,
Adrian Tamburini, Christus
Henry Choo, tenor,
Lee Abrahmsen, soprano
Danielle O’Keefe, mezzo soprano,
Tom Healey, baritone
Windfire Choir and the Geelong Chorale and orchestra
Friday 7 October 2022 7:30 PM – 9:45 PM
The Basilica of St Mary of the Angels
136 Yarra Street, Geelong Victoria 3220
Sunday 10th July 2022 at 2:30pm in All Saints Church, Noble Street
Having been delayed in making this overseas journey for the past two years, we are were delighted to finally present “Around the World in Eighty Minutes”
Although restrictions have generally eased, overseas travel still remains a challenge.
So come on an overseas journey with us, no need to check in or stand at the luggage carousel, as we take you on an epic journey via the world’s treasury of folk songs.
Allister Cox OAM
All Saints Church, Cnr Noble St and Talbot St, Newtown, Sunday 10th July at 2:30pm
2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of England’s finest composers. In a long and productive life, hardly a music genre has been left untouched or failed to be enriched by Vaughan Williams’s work. We will mark this significant milestone with a selection of his finest choral music.
Amelia Wawrzon, soprano
Syrah Torii, mezzo soprano
Ben Glover, tenor
James Emerson, baritone
Ken George, organ
Kristine Mellens, piano
The Geelong Chorale
Allister Cox, conductor
Sunday 15th May at 2:30pm
All Saints Church
Cnr Noble & Talbot Streets, Newtown, Geelong
The Geelong Chorale are pleased to announce that we are in rehearsal again and will present a feast of singing in three major concerts this year.
Our first concert will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the quintessential English composer of the 20th century. For this concert we will be joined by four soloists to present a selection of some of his finest choral music: grand anthems, partsongs, folksongs, and movements from the Mass in G minor. Sunday 15th May at 2:30pm in All Saints Church, Noble Street.
Having been delayed in making any overseas journey for the past two years, we are delighted that we can finally present “Around the World in Eighty Minutes”: a veritable whistle-stop tour of many countries via the world’s treasury of folksongs. Sunday 10th July at 2:30pm in All Saints Church, Noble Street.
In October we will combine with Music at the Basilica’s Windfire Choir to present the monumental ‘St John Passion” by J.S. Bach. This moving work has rarely, if ever, been performed in Geelong. First-class soloists and orchestra will accompany the combined choir, all conducted by Joseph Hie.
The Geelong Chorale’s Christmas concert this year featured works by two great English composers: Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Rutter’s supremely engaging Magnificat. There was also be a chance to hear two rarely performed Christmas chorales from Vaughan Williams’ cantata, Hodie. The Geelong Chorale was once again be joined by The Geelong Handbell Choir, directed by Gwyn Gillard. Soloists for the concert are Fiona Squires, soprano, and Rodney Dearing, baritone, with piano accompaniment by Kristine Mellens.
Saturday 7 December, 5pm
All Saints Church, Cnr Noble Street and Talbot Street, Newtown 3220
St Luke’s Uniting Church, Barrabool Road, Highton.
Great Moments, presented by The Geelong Chorale directed by Allister Cox. St Luke’s Church, Highton, August 18, 2019.
In the seven years since Allister Cox was appointed director of Geelong’s premier choir, he has set the group plenty of musical challenges.
In the past year alone, the Chorale brought an intensely moving In Remembrance commemorating the anniversary of WWI’s ending, as well as their complex collaboration Sound The Trumpets celebration in St Mary’s Basilica.
This concert arrived almost as a release from all that musical concentration. For this was easy, fun, and happy, both in its choice of material and delivery.
That cover-all title, Great Moments, carried the sub-text ‘Arias, duets and choruses from some of the best-loved operas, operettas and musicals’.
In practice, this came down heavily in favour of operatic choruses (9) to four operetta pieces and three extracts from musicals.
The programme neatly grouped each segment together with the Grand Operatic choruses up front before an interval, then the light opera and ending with a big Hollywood musical flourish.
So we began with Verdi’s joyful Brindisi from La Traviata and ended with an equally exuberant rendition of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
In between we heard a delightful musical selection delivered with a good deal of spirit and skill by the Chorale and its guest soloists Lisa Breen (soprano) and tenor David Campbell.
Such was the level of bonhomie that the two soloists, seated to one side when not called upon to sing, nevertheless joined in with most choruses including a memorable moment when the ebulliently jovial David couldn’t resist singing Bernstein’s West Side Story I Feel Pretty along with the female chorus.
He had previously delivered a wonderfully romantic solo of Donizetti’s Una Furtiva Lagrima from L’elisir d’amore as well as leading the Chorus’ tenors and basses in two lusty numbers, Tower Warders from G & S’s Yeoman Of The Guard and You’re Back Where You First Began from Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow.
For her part, Lisa gave us a beautiful solo version of Un bel di vedremo from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly as well as The Merry Widow’s Vilia. As a reviewer and performer I’ve experienced Lisa’s singing in many capacities for more than 20 years, and I don’t think I’ve heard her sing better. This was especially evident when she led the full Chorale in an a cappella version of Gershwin’s Summertime from Porgy and Bess. This sublime moment was, conversely, the only piece that had not involved Kristine Mellens’ skilled piano accompaniments.
Lisa and David joined, both individually and as a duo, with the Chorale in their spirited versions of big favourites The Anvil Chorus, Wedding Chorus and Voyagers Chorus, while deputy conductor Anne Pilgrim led the Chorale’s Sopranos and Altos in Verdi’s Witches Chorus from Macbeth.
Director/conductor Allister Cox introduced each work with his familiar charm and depth of knowledge – along with some carefully chosen humorous insights – while at the finish, soloists Lisa and David spontaneously left their seats to squeeze on to the Chorale’s rostrum and deliver those joyful Oklahoma! whoops.
It was a moment that captured exactly the energy and cheer of what had been such a skilfully delivered but delightfully lighthearted musical afternoon.
Great Moments: The Geelong Chorale – Sunday, 18th August, 2019
Posted on August 19, 2019
St Luke’s Uniting Church, Highton
Conductor: Allister Cox OAM
Accompanist: Kristine Mellens
The Geelong Chorale is a chamber choir. Therefore, a foray into musical theatre, opera, operetta and musical comedy is rather outside the choir’s usual musical fare. Allister Cox, musical director for some years, is a long-time performer in musical theatre, and directed the choir and two excellent soloists with assurance.
The first half of the program was devoted to grand opera, with choruses, solos and duets from Verdi, Mozart, Donizetti, Gounod, Puccini and finishing with a rousing performance of the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana. There was a little staged drama – the program began with Brindisi (a drinking chorus) from La Traviata. The choir (as people at at party) chatted animatedly during the introduction till the tenor, David Campbell, entered from off stage singing the well-known verse followed by the chorus with the choir before soprano Lisa Breen entered to sing the verse reprise. It is good to hear Lisa’s lovely singing after some time. We hope to hear more of her in future concerts.
David Campbell’s acting skill came out throughout the program, no more so that in his aria Un Furtiva Lagrime with a stunning love-lorn cadenza.
Kristine Mellens, the Chorale’s accompanist, had a near impossible task – attempting to emulate an orchestra. Kristine wrought all possible tone from the available upright piano playing with drama, a sense of style and sensitivity (especially in David Campbell’s aria from L’elisir d’amore).
Deputy conductor, Anne Pilgrim conducted the women of the choir in The Witches’ Chorus from Verdi’s Macbeth. There was a fine sense of dynamics, and some percussion in the background as the witches announce Macbeth’s arrival. Unison singing brought out the excellence of the choral lines, even though the sopranos were depleted somewhat in this program.
The second half of the concert produced lighter fare – with excerpts from Yeomen of the Guard, Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow, Porgy and Bess, West Side Story and concluding with a rousing performance of the title song from Oklahoma with soloists joining the choir.
The choir was in its element in an a capella arrangement of Summertime from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with Lisa Breen excelling in a jazz style performance. This arrangement, which includes intricate scat singing from the choir, would be well worth keeping in the choir’s repertoire.
The near capacity audience included many who are not regulars to concerts from GeelongChorale. Judging from the warmth of the applause, they were not disappointed.
The Geelong Chorale’s final performance of 2019 is Magnificat: Music to Celebrate Christmas, on December 7th at 5pm at Christ Church, Geelong.
The Geelong Chorale’s first concert for 2019 was the opening concert of Music at the Basilica’s 11th Annual Windfire Music Festival. It was a spectacular program of music for double choir, brass ensemble and organ, featuring music from the Renaissance to the present day.
Friday 10th May, 7.30pm
Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels
136 Yarra Street Geelong
This, the opening concert of Geelong’s annual Windfire Music Festival, proved perfect for the occasion. It was a memorable concert that took full advantage of the Basilica’s superb acoustics.
My initial impression was of a warm, welcoming atmosphere with hanging glass lanterns and glowing radiators.
A welcoming address from from Fr James Clarke led to a stirring, resounding intro, Entrata Festiva, a modern (20th Century) piece featuring Daniel Ballinger and Sarah Hepworth’s trumpets, Melissa Shirley’s horn, Stewart Armitage’s trombone and the Basilica’s thundering, mighty organ played by Frank De Rosso.
Then the Chorale members entered, only to disappear again as they took up positions in the acoustic sweet-spot in the space behind the venue’s original altar.
The blend of their voices, without accompaniment was perfect in its resonance as they sang Guerrero’s Cantite tunba in Sion.
That musical contrast between first and second items assured us in the audience that we were about to experience a programme of thoughtful excellence.
The choir then moved into sight at the front of the original altar, resplendent in their neat black and red, and Allister Cox introduced us to three works from the 16th century. First, Jacobus Gallus, whose Pater Noster used choir and brass to excellent, full and harmonious effect, followed by an a capella rendition of Giovanni da Palestrina’s calm and beautiful Sicut Cervus.
This was followed by Scarlatti’s glorious Exultate Deo with its joyful praise to God ringing throughout the rafters.
The choir changed position once again to risers on the right of the first row of pews, allowing the brass to move closer on the left.
Together they presented Gabrielli’s Canzona ´a 4 with sympathetic style.
Then followed a sharing of brass and voices to present the music of Hassler’s Missa Octo Voci, sung in Latin and accepted with warm applause.
At one point the director’s microphone failed mid-introduction, but Allister simply raised his voice to be clearly heard, demonstrating the excellence of the venue’s acoustics.
After a short interval the concert took a more modern, contrasting turn with Christopher Willcock’s challenging Easter Moon. The composition’s strident and sometimes pensive tones were handled with accomplished ease by choir and musicians.
Then came an unusual inclusion, with three different versions of Ave Maria, from Bruckner, Biebl and Laurisdsen. Allister explained that he had chosen them as appropriate because of the venue, (St Mary’s Basilica) as well as referencing the forthcoming Mother’s Day. The subtle differences and variations of tune and style added a deal of interest as the pieces were sung consecutively.
Then followed a triumphal and stirring Grand Choeur Dialogue with Frank De Rosso at the organ and the Choir in full voice, thundering down from the venue’s choir loft.
The concert finished on a different, but equally stirring note with the brass leading into voices to present Pachelbel’s rousing Nun Danket all Gott.
Taken together, this concert set the Windfire Festival to a stirring start while demonstrating our city’s exceptional quality of musicianship and choral abilities.