Sydney Chamber Choir presents three inspired programs in 2019, exploring how stories inform who we are as both individuals and members of a community. It’s also the first season to be led by new Music Director Sam Allchurch, long associated with the Choir and a fixture of Sydney’s choral scene.
Sydney Chamber Choir with Music Director Sam Allchurch in centre. Photo © Pedro Greig
Described by Allchurch as a concert of “music about music”, the season begins with a wide-ranging program stretching from Josquin des Prez to Australian composer Paul Stanhope. A lament for Josquin’s teacher, Johannes Ockeghem, the richly expansive Nymphes des bois is programmed alongside Stanhope’s touching Cherubic Hymn. Another Australian on the bill is Joseph Twist, with his ruminative How Shall We Sing in a Strange Land paired with likely influence Quomodo cantabimus by Byrd. Howells’ joyful Hymn for St Cecilia is complemented by Tippet’s dazzling, madrigal-inspired Dance, Clarion Air, while James MacMillan’s A New Song is fittingly programmed alongside Bach’s Singet dem Herrn, among other intriguing works.
Then in June, Sydney Chamber Choir celebrates music linked to royal occasions, featuring works by two Masters of the Queen’s Music. The late Australian Malcolm Williamson’s Love, The Sentinel and Symphony for Voices joins works by current Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir – The Song Sung True, A Blue True Dream of Sky and Love Bade Me Welcome. The second half of the program features Handel’s Zadok the Priest, composed for the coronation of King George II, and his thrilling Dettingen Te Deum.
Bringing the season to a satisfying finish, Sydney Chamber Choir performs Jonathan Dove’s song cycle The Passing of the Year. Vividly set to poems by Blake, Dickinson and Tennyson, Dove’s work is complemented by David Conte’s Invocation and Dance, set to the poetry of Walt Whitman. Promising a journey around the world and across centuries, the concert also features Stanhope’s I Have Not Your Dreaming, a tribute to Indigenous artist and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Also on the program, fellow Australian Ella Macens’ Stāvi Stīvi, Ozoliņ is inspired by the singing tradition of her Latvian heritage, while New Zealand composer Clare Maclean’s A West Irish Ballad is a setting of an Irish love poem, composed in 1988 for the Sydney Chamber Choir. The program is rounded out by René Clausen’s Tonight Eternity Alone, an evocation of the open sea, and Morten Lauridsen’s mysterious Nocturnes.