Chichester Psalms review
AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER CHOIR
Sunday 14 – Geelong & Sunday 21 – Melbourne
For their third and final concert of the 2012 season, the Australian Chamber Choir presents a program featuring the compositions of Heinrich Schutz, Jacob Handl, Anton Arensky, Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein.
Once again juxtaposing the old with the new, the Choir will sing two versions of the Lord’s Prayer, the first by Jacob Handl (1550 – 1593) and a more recent version by Anton Arensky (1861 – 1906).
The female singers will take centre stage in the finest mass ever composed for trebles and altos: Benjamin Britten‘s Missa Brevis, which will contrast with the men of the choir singing Samuel Barber’s deeply moving A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map, a work for male voices and three kettle drums, that depicts the death of a soldier.
The concert concludes with the Chichester Psalms in a version for choir, counter tenor (Tomas Dalton), organ (Rhys Boak), harp (Mary Anderson) and percussion (Peter Neville).
On the concert’s repertoire, Douglas Lawrence said “I always theme the ACC programs, however the reasons for selecting this repertoire are very simple. I am endlessly fascinated by the juxtaposition of old and new music. Therefore we start with Henry Purcell (1655 – 1694) and his, for the time, harmonically daring Hear my Prayer. We then move across to Mother Russia to conjure up St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow with the Arensky’s Lord’s Prayer and return to Bohemia to hear Jaocb Handl’s bold and athletic double choir version of the same text.
I consider Chichester Psalms to be one of the most exciting pieces of the late 20th Century repertoire; Leonard Bernstein combines classical elements with driving jazzy rhythms and an ancient Jewish text. It’s a knockout. I’ve combined this with the work of two other very famous 20th Century composers, the English Benjamin Britten and American Samuel Barber. Barber’s A stopwatch and an ordnance map hints at the futility of death in war – scary stuff, moving, and wonderful.”
Douglas Lawrence founded the Australian Chamber Choir in 2007. Since its inception, the choir has achieved critical success in Australia and overseas having toured Europe three times. In a feat unmatched by any other Australian choir or classical ensemble, in just five short years, the Choir has given 48 concerts in Europe. The 2011 European tour saw them perform to great acclaim in some of Europe’s finest choral music venues. In July 2013, the Choir will give concerts in Germany, Denmark, Poland and France.
Barristers, music students, professional musicians, teachers, a music publisher and even a former racing car driver (Andrew Moffat, Allan Moffat’s son) make up the 18 member choir, which comprises six sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses.
Led by Douglas Lawrence, the Choir also includes Douglas’ wife, Elizabeth Anderson, who has received plaudits from European critics for her harpsichord performances and 19-year old son, Jacob Lawrence, who recently received critical acclaim in the role of Evangelist in Bach’s St John Passion (directed by Andrew Raiskums). It is almost unheard of for a singer under 30 to be given this role, however Jacob who began his solo singing career as a 12-year old treble, is in demand as a tenor soloist for works such as Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Handel’s Messiah.
As well as their Australian Chamber Choir commitments and many other involvements, in July 2012 Elizabeth, Jacob and Douglas performed concerts for solo organ, solo harpsichord, four-hands organ, organ and tenor, harpsichord and tenor, in Hong Kong, Germany, England and Poland.
The Australian Chamber Choir released its third CD in May 2012. ABC Classic FM continues to record and subsequently broadcast the concerts.
Click here to visit the Australian Chamber Choir website for full program details
Chichester Psalms repertoire
Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) Psalm 100, Jauchzet dem Herrn
Jacob Handl (1550-91) Pater Noster
Anton Arensky (1861-1906) Otsche Nash (The Lord’s Prayer)
Samuel Barber (1910-81) Let down the bars, o death
Agnus Dei (Adagio for strings)
A stopwatch and an ordnance map
Benjamin Britten (1913-76) Missa Brevis
Leonard Bernstein (1918-90) Chichester Psalms for choir, countertenor, organ, harp and percussion
When: 3pm Sunday 14 October
Where: Basilica of St Mary St Mary of the Angels, Geelong
When: 3pm Sunday 21 October
Where: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 216 Richardson Street, Middle Park, Melbourne
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Chichester Psalms, September 14, 2012