Dagbladet, Ringsted, Denmark review
AUSTRALIAN CHOIR IN SUPER LEAGUE
The Deputy Chairman of the Festival’s board, Kristine Christensen summarized the Choir’s achievements. In agreement with her formal observations … I would wholeheartedly place the choir in the super league. The Choir had just demonstrated their high standard in an exciting and well constructed program; three contemporary Australian works were framed by classics from European church music.
It was very thoughtful to bring Melbourne composer Brenton Broadstock’s The Soul of the Anzac, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first World War as part of the Choir’s European tour program. The texts are a selection of deeply serious but comforting poems about a soldier’s lot during war, in a similar vein to the Wilfred Owen poems set by Benjamin Britten in the famous War Requiem. The audience could readily appreciate the beautiful relationship between text and music. The two other choral works from ‘down under’ were based on indigenous Australian themes. These texts from the Choir’s native land touch on the relationship between the ostensibly civilized white population and the original black inhabitants, a fitting export in the hands of such worthy cultural ambassadors.
The Australian Chamber Choir has high standards in abundance. In Kakadu Man, by Tom Henry, Douglas Lawrence’s direction of these young, hand-picked singers was impressive. Time and again they astonished the audience with their vocal virtuosity and lightning-fast transitions from the softest and gentlest pianissimo to the most powerful tutti sound.
A unique experience was when the women of the choir dispersed throughout the audience for Stephen Leek’s Kondalilla, producing natural sounds that would delight any choral director. Closing your eyes, you could believe yourself far out in the Australian bush.
It almost goes without saying that the classical European works that book-ended the program were delivered with complete stylistic perfection, from Vaughan Williams’ Mass for Double Choir to the final Motet by Bach. However, it was the concert’s central portion, which incidentally also contained a rarely-heard Australian transcription of Jehan Alain’s Choral Dorien into a choral vocalise, that made a lasting impression. It is these Australian works that will endure in our memories.
Dagbladet, Ringsted, Denmark, July 8, 2015