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Canberra Today 8°/13° | Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Memorable concert of Easter music

The Faithful Shepherd. Photo: Len Power

Music / The Faithful Shepherd: Music For Easter, Canberra Choral Society and soloists, directed by Dan Walker. At St Paul’s Anglican Church, Manuka, March 23. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

With the autumn sun streaming through the windows of the church, this program of music for Easter certainly had the perfect atmosphere.

The thoughtfully devised program consisted of works by the composers Finzi, Vaughan Williams, Thalben-Ball, Tavener, Elgar and Parry. The choir was joined by the soloists Rachel Mink, soprano; AJ America, mezzo-soprano; Charles Hudson, tenor and Alasdair Stretch, baritone.

The accompanist on the organ was Callum Tolhurst-Close. He and the soloists were in the gallery above and behind the audience. The resulting spacial sound of the choir on the altar level before the audience, the vocalising of the soloists and the playing of the organ above was well-balanced and gave the concert a notably warm and enveloping feeling.

The concert began with the Mass in G Minor for SATB soloists and double chorus by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The soloists gave memorable performances, and the choir also sang with a depth and confidence that was at times quite thrilling.

Tolhurst-Close then played the solo Elegy For Organ by George Thalben-Ball – Australian born, but considered an English composer. This meditative piece was given a fine and sensitive performance by the organist.

Next on the program was Gerard Raphael Finzi’s Lo, The Full, Final Sacrifice, written in 1946. A moving work, it began quietly and built in intensity, soloists and choir giving it a moving clarity and radiance.

It was followed by John Taverner’s The Lamb, a beautifully tender work set to the poem by William Blake. It was sweetly sung by the choir.

Then, Elgar’s Benedictus Op 34 No 2 built from a quietly reflective beginning to a thrilling climax. The choir sang it superbly.

Dan Walker’s meticulous direction of the company was evident in the high quality of the performances throughout.

The final work on the program was Hubert Parry’s Crossing the Bar, the music set to the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It was sung with warmth and an uplifting sense of hope and it was the perfect, quiet ending to this memorable concert for Easter.

 

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