Melbourne is blessed with a plethora of good choirs of all sizes and combinations, and the recent 10th anniversary concert of the ensemble Choristry reminded me how lucky we are to have so much good singing on our doorstep.
In the friendly acoustics of St John’s Southgate, the 27 mixed voice ensemble was joined for some pieces by four Choristry alumni, and all four conductors of Choristry joined forces to spread the musical love.
Founder Trevor Jones, now a lecturer in music theatre at Queensland’s Griffith University, returned south for the night, and previous conductors Dan Walker and Christine Storey joined current Choristry conductor Calvin Bowman in a varied and interesting program.
Choristry had the pleasure of kicking off the program with composer/conductor Bowman’s creation, “To Daffodils”, which set the tone for a great night of music.
The musical landscapes covered were wide and varied, from Bowman’s other new creation, the superb Crossing the Bar, to traditional works such as Lotti’s Crucifixus and Gesualdo’s O Vos Omnes.
Both Jones and Walker are also talented arrangers, and Choristry did them proud with fine renditions of Under the Greenwood Tree (Jones) and Elton John’s famous Rocket Man (Walker).
Modern American composers of the moment, Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridson were well represented, and the choir showed its virtuosity with the famous Swingle Singers’ treatment of Bach’s Sleepers Awake.
Contemporary Irish composer Michael McGlynn made an appearance with the tricky but catchy Gaelic Dulaman, conducted by Irish music specialist Storey. Choristry is a choir that is game to try complex languages, and their rendition of Eriks Esenvalds’ Northern Light showed the ease with which this group of singers handles the challenge.
There were occasional issues where works sounded insecure, but generally the standard was extremely high.
Jones’ arrangement of Lachlan Tigers was a grand finish to the program, and the encore of Berlioz’s Shepherds Farewell was a beautiful way to send a happy audience home.