Scots’ Church was a fitting venue for the Australian Chamber Choir’s program celebrating the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, with a performance replicating the musical content of the Coronation Service.
The regal and majestic atmosphere of Scots’ interior with flags and banners projecting from the side aisles created just the right tone to support the regal and dignified music of the program which included many old favourites including The Old Hundreth, (arr. R V Williams) I was Glad (Parry) and Handel’s Zadok the Priest, originally composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727.
Douglas Lawrence, Founder and Musical Director of The Australian Chamber Choir is already very well known to Melbourne concert audiences and rose to his expected high standard of musical direction. The choral jewellery box of musical gems delivered pieces ranging from Gregorian Chant of the mid 9th century through the complexity of the Jacobean composers, Gibbons and Byrd to the modern Ralph Vaughan Williams. The choir was able to adapt naturally and easily to the styles of singing required of the various hymns, anthems and complex part songs of the 16th and 17th centuries and do more than justice to the freer 19th and 20th century forms.
The Coronation Gloria delivered a triumphal entry to the program with bold brass accompaniment and the choir in full and confident voice. The spine tingles started here. The choir then slid effortlessly into a disciplined and restrained, but sweet style required for Let my Prayer Come Up by Sir William Harris. But when brass and organ accompaniment joined the choir in the majestic I Was Glad by Sir Hubert Parry it nearly raised the roof.
The Choir was very well disciplined and professional, as capable of sweet harmonies as of a grandeur of sound, equally delighting the audience. Solo voices were well chosen and the total impression was of a well-schooled choir with great musical ability which enjoyed performing this wonderful program.
The only note of discord was from a trumpet which finished squeakily behind the choir and organ in Coronation Role twice, once being during the encore. This pointed to an unresolved technical issue rather than a one-off mistake. However, this one fault was unable to erase a completely enjoyable afternoon in which the choir and orchestra delivered a unique and unforgettable royal memorial concert.