The Sydney Sings … concert series returns to the Sydney Town Hall on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2018, with a performance of An Australian War Requiem.
This original work, composed by contemporary Australian composer Christopher Bowen OAM, was first performed in August 2014 by the Sydney University Graduate Choir at the Sydney Town Hall to great acclaim. The deeply moving libretto written by Pamela Traynor draws on correspondence between mothers and their sons on the battlefield, and on historical fact. Together with the masterful musical composition, the AWR is a stunning piece that commemorates the anniversary of the Great War.
As part of the Sydney Sings series, the November 2018 performance provides an opportunity for choristers from across Sydney and NSW to join the Sydney University Graduate Choir, soloists and a full orchestra in performing the AWR at the Sydney Town Hall. Watch out in March/April for invitations to join the guest choir for this great event.
The Sydney Sings … series was initiated in 2007, and most recently included the performance of the Verdi Requiem in November 2017, where approximately 220 choristers including over 140 guest singers, a full 60 piece orchestra and four very fine soloists came together under the baton of Australian composer and music director Christopher Bowen, to perform the wonderful Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi. Having performed it previously to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, all involved were very keen to present this masterful work to Sydney audiences again.
Bowen is a great admirer of Verdi, in particular the Requiem, and brought great insight and understanding of its qualities to the performance.
Along with a large choir, the Requiem also requires an impressive sound from the orchestra, who did not disappoint. The orchestra sported 34 strings, with a six-person cello section and four double-basses, with Lizzie Jones as Concertmaster. Special mention must be made of John Cran, Sydney’s legendary bassoonist, who added a page to his legend by leading the bassoon section on his ninetieth birthday!
Congratulations, John! We look forward to many future engagements for John in our orchestra.
An outstanding quartet of four young soloists sang in the Requiem: Natalie Aroyan (soprano), a principal artist with Opera Australia, made her debut with the Grads; Ashlyn Tymms (mezzo-soprano), winner of the 2015 Joan Carden Award, sponsored by the Choir, made another welcome appearance with us, as did Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass), two of our favourite male soloists. They sang beautifully as individuals and as an ensemble, despite only coming together shortly before the performance.
The format of the Sydney Sings series means that there are not a lot of rehearsals that bring together the SUGC and guest choirs, the full orchestra and soloists under the one roof. Many rehearsals are conducted with individual groups, with the all parts coming together as one tremendous musical jigsaw puzzle on the performance weekend. The success of this syncronisation is largely due to the hard work and talents of music director Christopher Bowen, whose masterful direction ensures that all parts are working in harmony and delivering an excellent performance.
Artistically, the performance was one of the Choir’s best. Inspired by the terrific playing of our orchestra, the splendid singing of the soloists, and Bowen’s revelatory grasp of Verdi’s wonderful score, the Choir achieved a high standard.
As a chorister there is no greater thrill than bringing to life the ferocious power of the Dies Irea from the depths of the choral stands, living the threatening drama of the Tuba Mirum and then enjoying the impassioned beauty of the Agnus Dei. Performing such a work in the iconic Sydney Town Hall adds another level of thrill and excitement, particularly as we watch the seats fill and get ready to present a glorious choral work to our audience.
The concerts in the Sydney Sings series are a huge undertaking and are supported by generous corporate sponsors. In this case the Verdi Requiem was supported by Westfield and the City of Sydney, both of which ensured that the Choir was able to deliver an outstanding performance with fine musicians of great talent.
Since the New Year, CDs of this performance have arrived. The recording is excellent and will be on sale at our May 6th concert in the Great Hall, University of Sydney.