Community Chorale sings with promise

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Canberra Community Chorale. Photo: Peter Hislop

Music / “This Shining Night”, Canberra Community Chorale, North Belconnen Uniting Church, July 14. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD. 

THIS was an interestingly programmed concert from the Canberra Community Chorale, one of the smaller of the classical music choirs in Canberra.

The Chorale is directed by Dan Walker, one of his several choir directing activities around Canberra at the moment. The program mixed music from Franz Schubert, Samuel Barber and 1980s English electro-pop band Depeche Mode in a way that was surprisingly coherent and musically balanced.

The concert was “book-ended” by two Depeche Mode songs, both arranged for the choir, piano and string quartet by Walker. The arrangements were in a modern, minimalist style that Walker pointed out were a long way from the original recordings.

In between those songs were the six movements of Franz Schubert’s Mass in G Major broken up by four of Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs, sung by soprano Chloe Lankshear. These are determinedly modern compositions in a 1950s style, full of angular melodic turns going in unpredictable directions. They were sung with confidence and precision by Lankshear. She was joined by the choir for “Sure on this Shining Night”, the last of the Barber pieces before the final two sections of the Schubert Mass, where the choir was augmented by baritone soloist Ed Suttle. The final Agnus Dei had Lankshear, Suttle and Dan Walker singing a trio that sounded more like something from a light opera than a religious service before being joined by the choir. The singing was ably supported throughout by accompanist Lucas Allerton and a string quartet who were a little scratchy at times.

The Canberra Community Chorale is very much a work in progress. They looked like they were enjoying themselves, which is always important, but more attention needs to be given to pitch and phrasing. Otherwise the music can become messy and unfocused. A promising start nevertheless.

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