SUBTITLED “70 years of wit, whimsy, satire and sedition”, this concert of music by Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith was very entertaining, with the varied selection of music showing the clever and unique range of the Wesley-Smith brothers’ work.
The first half of the program presented the younger singing groups with The Song Company performing a selection of quirky songs that were amusing but often with life messages in the clever lyrics. The young singers, who worked impressively without referring to sheet music, handled the close harmonies of the songs extremely well.
Tobias Cole, their conductor, was an engaging compere for this part of the evening. Included was a remarkable piece, “Weapons of Mass Distortion”, played very well by Roland Peelman on piano to a recorded soundscape of piano and voices that was quite startling and fascinating.
The second half of the program was “Black Ribbon: A Song Cycle for Federation”, which had been commissioned and first performed by the Canberra Choral Society in 2001. This is a fascinating work that celebrates Federation on one hand but explores the impact on the country’s original inhabitants on the other. While there are grand moments in the score, it also impresses with unexpected moments of intimacy.
Fragments of other composers’ music associated with Federation come tumbling out as well, giving the work a larrikin feel underlining our rebellious Australian spirit. The work, conducted by Roland Peelman, was performed superbly by The Song Company and Canberra Choral Society Chorus with Anthony Smith accompanying on piano.