The Australian Chamber Choir – a dazzling aural experience

23.07.2013 By Christine Maria Schraff

Last Saturday, Meissen Cathedral hosted the Australian Chamber Choir under the direction of Douglas Lawrence. In their concert titled “Bridge of Dreams”, the 18 young singers created a dazzling and wonderfully varied aural experience, using only their voices to build bridges between a range of centuries, styles, nations and beliefs.

Precision, a feeling for the venue as a resonating body, a clearly open attitude towards experimental music and a deep understanding of the classical choral repertoire all combined, spinning sound into a veritable dream. The concert earned deserved applause, and is one that will continue to resound in our ears and our thoughts.

The choice of repertoire for the “Bridge of Dreams” concert by the Australian Chamber Choir (founded by Douglas Lawrence in 2007) especially highlighted lesser-known works in English, resulting in a thrilling combination of excitement and surprise.

Accomplished and adept

In skilful alternation between the past and the present, the Choir presented works such as Orlando Gibbons’ “Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis” (a work from the English Renaissance), only to follow with experimental modern works such as Anne Boyd’s “As I crossed a bridge of dreams”, or “Awit ni Solomon” (from the Song of Solomon) by Robin Estrada.

Both of the latter works are examples of sound painting, virtual abstractions that were transformed by the choir into moods or dreams of sound, the result at once meditative yet stirring, familiar yet foreign, harmonious yet fragile. Music, sound and song suddenly took on a profoundly varied and adaptable character, with the temporal dimension remaining intact through precise dynamic shaping. The modern experimental works expressed magical fantasies with elements from the natural world such as bird calls and animal sounds, or otherwise seemed to transform into wordless, humming instruments unto themselves.

The juxtaposition of works from the past and present emphasised the highly-professional quality of the choir, and their succinctness of tone and dynamics. Each work was demanding in its own right, and the security and ease shown by the choir in their dedication to each was particularly inspiring. A journey between tradition and modernity allowed the audience to listen, dream, be carried away and seemingly float on a bed of sound. A wonderfully satisfying experience!

Translation – Brent Annable

Click here to read the original in German

Sächsische Zeitung, July 23, 2013

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