The Chamber Choir was invited by the Sydney and Southern Highlands Music Society (Formerly Robertson Village Music Society) to present a program of largely French works to celebrate Bastille Day and choristers duly made their way south to the picturesque, and noticeably colder than Sydney, Southern Highlands last Sunday, 14 July.
Introduction to the new Robertson church hall and freshly tuned piano was followed by a 90 minute rehearsal, with a focus on maximising the Choir’s sound in the unfamiliar space. A brief break for lunch, then on with the show! The Choir took the stage sporting assorted red, white or blue scarves (sometimes all three) in honour of the occasion. There was even the occasional beret sighting (looking at you John Appleby). The first half of the program was devoted to French composers, Camille Saint-Saens, Gabriel Faure and Vincent D’Indy, punctuated by introductions and interesting facts from maestro Christopher Bowen. Highlights included excerpts from Faure’s Requiem and also Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine. The interval was preceded by a rousing (if not perfect) rendition of the Marseillaise, to place an exclamation point on the first half.
The second half of the program comprised a more eclectic mix, featuring, and I’m sure Grads won’t be surprised to hear this, a number of works by German composers: Johannes Brahms, JS Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. Interspersed with these works were more secular offerings by Queen and Eric Clapton, as well as a couple of spirited Spirituals – audience participation invited. A notable feature, and very great treat, was a solo performance by the Chamber Choir’s own Angela Lim, who delighted the audience by performing Nina’s Aria Il mio ben quando verra by Giovanni Paisiello. As the twilight started drawing in, the concert concluded with a poignant interpretation of the Gaelic Blessing, composed by Christopher in response to a recent personal experience of loss, a work greatly appreciated by Choir and audience alike.
Choristers enjoyed the opportunity to perform such a full program, revisiting old favourites as well as adding several new works to their continually expanding repertoire. Rehearsal time was limited, but thanks must go to all who contributed to making the afternoon such an enjoyable experience.A few weeks out we were still seeking an accompanist, as all our regulars were unavailable. All thanks to Jeremy So for taking on such a large program and performing with grace and skill. Mention must also be made of our President’s sterling work in page turning and manning the CD stall – thank you Evelyne for your ongoing support of Chamber Choir gigs. Ros Moxham achieved her usual miracles in managing the logistics of steering the Choir through rehearsals, and of course Christopher was tireless, as always, in giving his time and working with the Choir to achieve the highest possible standards of performance.
Finally, thanks to all the good folk from Robertson and surrounds, who were an appreciative audience and made us most welcome.