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Sublime performance of female voices

The Luminescence Chamber Singers performing last night. Photo: Rob Kennedy

Music / “Tracks and Traces”, Luminescence Chamber Singers. At Gorman Arts Centre, Braddon. May 31 Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY

FEW musical experiences can compare to the sound of a choir of unaccompanied human voices. When it’s six female artists from The Luminescence Chamber Singers that experience becomes sublime.

Performing a wide variety of music from 900 years ago to today, the six singers were AJ America, Veronica Milroy, Chloe Lankshear, Adele Kozak, Lotte Betts-Dean and Amy Moore.

Soprano Chloe Lankshear opened solo with “O virtus Sapientiae” from Hildegard of Bingen. Then she was joined off stage by other singers humming a drone, setting the tone for a night of unique vocal expression.

“Fiat Lux” by Australian composer Alice Chance with three voices in some ways mirrored the style of Hildegard of Bingen’s work. This made a delightful follow on from the first piece. Then into Dan Walker’s “Road Poem”, which upped the pace and the number of singers on stage as AJ America joined the trio. This modern and stylish number sung about a quick spring day.

The traditional and haunting Finnish song “On Suuri Sun Rantas Autius” for all six singers showed how wonderfully these combined voices sound together. They blended so well.

Brett Dean’s four-movement work used as the title of the concert “Tracks and Traces” was composed to the words of four indigenous poets. The opening movement had a sound almost mimicking woodwind instruments from several of the singers as the sopranos sang the poem. This collection of songs varied in style and arrangement. It changed from all six voices singing the same notes, to a cannon and even a piece with slapping sticks in a fast-rhythmic style. Various vocal effects were used in this adventurous and dynamic piece, even soft whisperings.

“Locus Iste” (This Place) by Christopher Wiggins was a transcendent work for all the singers. It was filled with poignant silences in a passionate setting and the chamber singers created a unique vocal expression for this work.

After the interval, a selection of traditional and modern songs made for a diverse and stimulating offering. A dynamic traditional Bulgarian folk song “Kaval Sviri” stood out and made a strong impact. The almost opposite traditional Swedish song “Jag Sag Dig” (I’ll tell you) was a soft and simple song from and for the heart.

Poulenc’s arrangement of “Ave Verum Corpus” for just three singers was the most mellow and plaintive work of the night. The rest of the songs were about as diverse as it gets. A work titled “Uphill” from composer, conductor and artistic director of Gondwana Choirs Lyn Williams was a treat. The last work on the program “The Acrobat” by Australian composer Paul Stanhope had everything. Amazing vocal acrobatics, clapping and body slapping, and some of the highest notes heard in any song.

A short unprogrammed encore toned things down, and these singers showed that the voice reigns supreme in the world of music.

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Ian Meikle, editor

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