Newcastle sings praise for globally acclaimed choir

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SPECIAL EVENING: The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge performed at Newcastle City Hall on Tuesday August 2 as part of the 2016 Musica Viva International Concert Season.

Much of choral music is directed to the heavens, inspiring if not a belief in God then certainly a contemplation of the divine.

Such was an evening spent basking in the aural glow of The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge who performed at Newcastle City Hallon Tuesday, August 2 as part of the 2016 Musica Viva International Concert Season.

The buzz before the event was understandable given the choir has been voted the fifth best in the world.

It might also be related to the august institution from which the choir is hand-picked.

Trinity College Cambridge is steeped in modern history, civilisationand achievement.

Its alumni includes such luminaries as Bacon, Byron and Babbage, just to name a few of the B’s.

Throw in Ghandi, Tennyson, Rayleigh, Russell, Nabokovand no less than 32 Nobel Prizes and you get an idea of the calibre of graduate that has walked the halls.

It is from this line, in a tradition dating back to the 14thcentury, thatunder-graduates are recruited to sing, during school term, the liturgy of the chapel, and then outside term, to tour and record.

Typically inthese days where old meets new,all services from Trinity College Chapel are webcast liveand available tolisten to on the Choir website.

They tour the world extensively and have a back catalogue of over2500 tracks recorded live.

And so it was that the latest harvest of this celebrated crop,led by acclaimed English choral director, Stephen Layton, in charge at Trinitiy since 2006, graced this city.

The musical program (see below for details) was a journey across time and collective inspiration, kicking off with pieces from the 14thand 15thcentury(Bird, Tallis and Purcell),showcasing the ritualistic roots of Cathedral singing, before stepping up toselections from the 20thand 21stcentury.

The linkage between the ages being the human voice and the celestial heights it can soar towhen combinedand conducted with vision, intelligence and passion.

Through the course of what was a very special evening, the audience was mesmerised in turn by sounds of etherealand haunting beauty,sonorous and sublime harmonies, punctuated byvisceral moments of supreme power and control.

One of the highlights, the world premiere of apiece by young Australian composer Joe Twist, commissioned specifically for this tour by Mary Pollard and family, dedicated to the memory of their son.

Hymn of the Ancient Land (2016)perhaps summed up the tenor of the eveningin terms of the journey, drawing as it does on an ancientpoem, played out in three choral styles across three languages and continents to provide acontemporary perspective on an age-old convention.

A universal song of creation, exploring and celebrating the spirit of heaven and earth, themes perfectly in tune withconventions dating back 600 years.

As Mr Twist said while introducing his work,if that sounds a “little hippy”, we could do with some love and unity in this turbulent year of 2016.

There were numerousmoments of relaxed intimacy between audience and choir.

At one stage after the break, Mr Layton begged forgiveness if during the 26-minute rendition of Frank Martin’s Mass for the Unaccompanied Double Choir, members of the ensemble might grab a drink of waterto wet the whistle.

Understandably, all that singing was thirsty work.

He also mentionedthat audience members might have noticedthe dresses of some of the performers were beginning to flutter after interval.

This reviewer certainly did andthought it might have had something to do with the almighty power of the Lord being summoned toCity Hall, but Mr Layton explained that the choir had requested a door be left open because it was getting hot up on stage.

No doubt about that.

The evening concluded with a jazzy encore of Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.

The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge wrap up their national tour,having played Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth,Melbourne and Sydney, with afinal performance in Canberra onAugust 4.

The next date on the Newcastle2016 Musica Viva International Concert Season calendar is September 22, when the city hosts the Jerusalem Quartet.

PROGRAM

PÄRTBogoróditse Djévo

BYRDO Lord, Make Thy Servant

TALLISSalvator Mundi

PURCELLRemember Not, Lord, Our Offences

STUCKYO Sacrum Convivium

EŠENVALDSThe Heavens’ Flock

WHITACRE Ithank You God for most this amazing day

RAUTAVAARAEvening Hymn, Ekteniya

LUKASZEWSKINunc Dimittis

INTERVAL

TWISTHymn of Ancient Lands(World Premiere)

Commissioned for Musica Viva by Mary and Paul Pollard

MARTINMass for Unaccompanied Double Choir

PARKThe Wings Of The Wind


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