Oh, come, all ye faithful

Getting into the spirit… from left, mezzo-soprano Veronica Thwaites-Brown, baritone Daniel Sanderson, tenor Paul Eldon and tenor Ian Mills. Photo by Gary Schafer
Getting into the spirit… from left, mezzo-soprano Veronica Thwaites-Brown, baritone Daniel Sanderson, tenor Paul Eldon and tenor Ian Mills. Photo by Gary Schafer
PAUL Eldon can hardly conceal his excitement as he conjures up visions of Christmas trees, mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas-themed music, including classic carols, upbeat numbers and more serious offerings.

For this year, Christmas is coming early for this enterprising young Englishman. Eldon and David McKay are co-founders of classical voice ensemble Coro, which is staging “Christmas in July”, a feast of food and music in the hall of All Saints, Ainslie, on Sunday, July 6 – all for the flat ticket price of $20 and designed to bring “some festive cheer to the traditionally cold, grim days of winter”.

A one-time chorister with Schola Cantorum of Oxford, he lives and breathes music and enthuses about everything from “Deck the Halls” to “Good King Wenceslas”, “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “Frosty the Snowman”, noting how ridiculous they sound during a scorching Australian Christmas.

“People who sing have families,” says the optimistic Eldon. His dream is that the kids who come along “will be annoying their parents for months singing the tunes”.

But, as he says, “people also expect a bit of quality” so they’ve chosen special items such as three beautiful Poulenc Christmas songs to balance the rollicking carols.

I catch up with Eldon for a coffee at Braddon, where everybody knows him, and no wonder, he waits by day at Italian & Sons.

Eldon has a singularly unusual background for somebody who sounds British to the bootstraps.

He was born and raised in Hong Kong, though largely educated in England, and came to Canberra not from Britain, but from Beijing, where he achieved a lifelong dream to learn Mandarin.

Arriving in Canberra couple of years ago to join his partner, he gravitated towards the musical community and performed in Sandy France and Helen Nourse’s bushfire opera, “From a Black Sky.”

If McKay is the conducting genius behind Coro, Eldon is its mouth and he is quick to talk up the ensemble’s successes, with finalist positions at both the 2012 and 2013 MusicACT Annual Music Awards, the MAMAs, a sell-out concert last year with countertenor Toby Cole, and plans for a slap-up concert in August combining the Bach and Pärt Magnificats.

Coro Chamber Music, “Christmas in July”, 4pm, Sunday, July 6, All Saints Ainslie Hall, bookings to corocanberra.com or tickets at the door.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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