‘Clarity and delicacy’ in Polifemy performance

Share Canberra's trusted news:
Polifemy at Wesley. Photo: Peter Hislop.

‘Reflection: Music for Introspection and Remembrance’, Polifemy, Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, September 20. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

POLIFEMY’s concert showed without a doubt why it’s an entirely different experience listening to music live rather than from a recording.

It was stated in the program that “the concert comprises music for quiet reflection in a year of disruption and loss”. It could also add that it was music to make your heart soar.

Polifemy is a small female ensemble established in 2008 to explore music written and performed by nuns in the 15th and 16th centuries. Directed by Robyn Mellor, the singers, including Mellor, demonstrated in this concert that they are supreme vocal artists, able to sing this early music a cappella, accurately and with great feeling.

The concert commenced with the music of Cristóbal de Morales of the 16th century. His “Office of the Dead” is a prayer cycle for the repose of lost souls, and the group of singers set a high standard right from the start with their accurate and disciplined singing.

It was followed by “Hostias et Preces Tibi Domine” (We Offer Thee, O Lord) by Luigi Antonio Sabbatini from the 18th century, a haunting work full of intricate harmonies. It was performed with clarity and delicacy.

Works by the 15th century composers, Orlando de Lassus and Giovanni Palestrina, were next. The chant “Requiem Aeternam” by Palestrina was sung by the four sopranos only.  Their beautiful singing of this piece was one of the highlights of the concert.

William Byrd’s “Mass for 3 voices” was written in the 16th century while Byrd, a Catholic covert, was a member of the court of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I. It was a dangerous position for a Catholic to be in and the compositions were sung in secret under threat of death if discovered. The singers gave an excellent performance of this work with the Sanctus and Agnus Dei especially memorable.

The conclusion to the Requiem Mass, “In Paradisum” was a perfectly chosen and uplifting finale for the concert.

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleArtsday / ‘Stripped’ winds up at The Q
Next articleMore than 200 extra buses will soon run on Saturdays

Leave a Reply