Sydney Chamber Choir has announced its 2020 season, which Artistic Director Sam Allchurch has described as “a series of masterworks”.
Sam Allchurch (centre) and the Sydney Chamber Choir. Photograph © Pedro Greig
“I just feel like I have the best job in the world conducting the Sydney Chamber Choir,” Allchurch said at the choir’s season launch following its Time & Place concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. “I think we’re all incredibly lucky to be part of it, both as singers and people in the audience, to hear that wonderful music sung with such passion, such skill, such heart, is really very moving.”
The season opens with Handel’s Messiah in March. “Well-known, but we will put our Sydney Chamber Choir stamp on it,” Allchuch said. “And we are delighted to be joined by the Muffat Collective, a wonderful group of incredibly passionate and skilled baroque musicians who will verve to it, and a fantastic cast of soloists.”
The choir will be joined by soprano Amy Moore, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Dillon, tenor Andrew Goodwin and bass Andrew O’Connor.
The choir will join with the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra in May for performances of Haydn’s Creation – in honour of the late Richard Gill, who was Artistic Director of both organisations – at City Recital Hall and at the Canberra International Music Festival. The performance will be conducted by Jakob Lehmann, with soprano Celeste Lazarenko, mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean, tenor Andrew Goodwin and baritone James Ioelu taking the solo parts.
June will see Sydney Chamber Choir perform the first of two world premieres on the 2020 program, a brand new Requiem by the choir’s former Artistic Director Paul Stanhope: “A masterwork that’s about to be a masterwork,” Allchurch said. “We were remarking the other day at a rehearsal that Sydney Chamber Choir is fluent in Stanhope, it sings Stanhope extremely well, and it’s a great honour to be singing a really large work of Paul’s, being his Requiem.”
The choir will be joined in this concert by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows, harpist Genevieve Lang, percussionist Jess Ciampa, soprano Belinda Montgomery and tenor Richard Butler. Stanhope himself will conduct the concert (“No one is better placed to conduct Paul Stanhope than Paul Stanhope,” Allchurch said) which will also include music by Mary Finsterer, James MacMillan, Arvo Pärt, Carl Nielsen and Tomás Luis de Victoria.
The choir’s final program for the year will pair a new commission by Joseph Twist – “this is going to be another masterwork” – with Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir. “This is one of the greatest pieces of choral music – of music – ever written,” Allchurch said. “He wrote it in the 20s but then kept it secret. Said it was a piece between him and God. I don’t know whether he was convinced, or he realised, in the 60s that we should have it to enjoy as well.”
“It’s important that we sing music that matters,” Allchurch said in conclusion. “That we’re not just singing about rainbows and unicorns and lollipops in a sort of choral fantasy land.”
“New music can’t exist in a vacuum, and with our unique ability as singers to sing words, we have great responsibility,” he said. “So we hope to bring that to you in this season of masterworks.”