Royal Melbourne Philharmonic: Carols within the Cathedral


At all times thrilling, at all times thrilling, the normal live performance of festive carols and readings offered by Royal Melbourne Philharmonic is a spectacular and bold occasion, this yr being a mammoth program scheduled 4 occasions inside two days. Few conductors would sort out such a marathon Christmas spectacle with three choirs below their path – RMP, Field Hill Chorale and Melbourne College Chorale Society totalling over 200 voices – in an nearly steady stream of music for a 90 minute program of assorted texts and kinds.

Highlights are at all times anticipated too, with music from conventional and modern settings across the globe, together with a stirring Scottish troupe from the Melbourne Highland Pipe Band enjoying stunning decisions, such because the Czech tune Carol of the Drum and French carols Ding Dong Merrily on Excessive and Angels We Have Heard on Excessive – not typically heard in Melbourne on bagpipes. Extremely acclaimed Wagnerian soprano Olivia Cranwell gave a dramatic color and form to the classics What Baby Is This (tune of Greensleeves) and Suo Gan – a Welsh lullaby, giving a grand, stately and solemn interpretation to the standard “folks” model, whereas a really expressive soloist, Christopher Hillier, had the gang in his hand with The Holy Metropolis, colourfully enhanced by the accompaniment of Stefan Cassomenos, piano, and David Macfarlane, organ.

St Paul’s Cathedral is an awe-inspiring area, a historic and non secular landmark, its interiors offering a deep resonance and a visible aura of sparsely lit caverns with comfortable golden lamplight, stone partitions and ghostly shadows. For most of the households and members of the viewers, this annual efficiency is a really particular occasion. The sense of group and the enjoyment of singing in celebration collectively, so important on the finish of this difficult yr, was felt instantly within the opening track O Come All Ye Trustworthy, enhanced by an inspiring, rousing introductory Fanfare on the identical hymn, composed by Andrew Burch and commissioned by conductor Andrew Wailes for this occasion.

What was exceptional tonight, have been the dynamic, contemporary and revolutionary instrumental accompaniments for each work, as conventional texts and acquainted melodies have been there for us, however the modern settings and inventive instrumental designs have been contemporary and thrilling. I Noticed Three Ships whipped up a storm with thrilling brass and percussion shows, and a potpourri of themes from different conventional carols have been additionally decided to be there for the experience. At all times, the complete choir performances are a tribute to the well-oiled machine of organisers taking the RMP into its 168th yr of celebrating choral music.

Identified for his stunning, panoramic preparations, Dan Forrest’s modern settings of carols are nice festive items. Gloria In Excelsis Deo gave the choir lengthy solemn notes, powerfully efficient above an energetic, syncopated accompaniment, with a protracted crescendo including pleasure and an African rhythmic really feel because the climax constructed. His setting of Silent Night time was definitely revolutionary and modern, with melodic phrases being lengthened by lengthy sluggish sections, the acquainted rhythms of the melody prolonged and made extra clean and flowing, as an elaborate wealthy texture of rising scale patterns and waves of hovering vocal traces created a really new and elaborate texture.

At all times, between featured soloists, massed choir works with various accompaniment – piano, organ, harp, orchestral ensemble – have been six readings, professionally and warmly delivered by Roland Rocchiccioli, Julie Houghton and Andrew Wailes, producing a wide range of participating private reflections on the biblical or modern that means of Christmas. Additionally added to this prolonged however well-paced and repeatedly flowing program, have been 4 new choral works. Ecce Novum by Ola Gjeilo was nearly a peaceable lullaby, the place the choir sustained lengthy notes over steady barcarolle model arpeggios on the piano, with vibrant tonal shifts constructing in direction of a remaining Amen with full orchestral accompaniment. From the 2009 animated movie A Christmas Carol, God Bless Everybody was a mild reminder of the spirit of giving and sharing with others, and Glow, by common Grammy successful composer Eric Whitacre, was a superbly calm and interesting fashionable work. One other Dan Forrest particular, Hymn of Creation, requested the performers to fill the cathedral with an thrilling anthem as colourful brass and percussion additional enhanced an enormous remaining word.

At all times too, the 30-page shiny Program is a Christmas reward, with intensive data on all members, musical biographies of main artists, historic relevancies, data and pictures of composers (that certainly is a uncommon factor),  and lyrics of songs for viewers participation. Additionally noteworthy was the inclusion of the favored William James track Christmas Day (The North Wind) within the ALL SING class, thus guaranteeing that this Australian composer is of central significance in our Christmas repertoire.

Picture provided.

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Julie McErlain reviewed “Carols within the Cathedral”, offered by the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic in St Paul’s Cathedral on December 17, 2021.



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