From their first intake of breath, I was yet again overawed by the exquisite vocal machine that is Song Company. If the ensemble was a car, it definitely would be a Ferrari! As In Tempore Paschali unfolded, exploring the Easter story with music old and new, the audience were enchanted and seduced by the possibilities of the voice – at once reverent, distant, sombre, joyful and spiritual. The “filigree detail of each individual vocal part” was brought alive by Susannah Lawergren, Anna Fraser, Hannah Fraser, Richard Black, Mark Donnelly and Andrew O’Connor.
Peter McCallum in The Sydney Morning Herald called this a concert “of rare and transcendent beauty”, swept away by the celebration of polyphony in its first performance in St Mary’s Crypt in March. After touring regional NSW and Melbourne, the sixth and final concert was presented in North Sydney’s Independent Theatre.
Artistic Director Antony Pitts created a concert in three parts exploring the subjects of Tomb, Hades and Throne. Into this musical setting was interwoven some of the most beautiful, intricate and intimate hymns, psalms, a capella Mass parts, plainchants and motets. Clever artistic direction placed Australian composers in amongst the ancient greats – I particularly loved the way Alice Chance’s stunning Fiat Lux by the three glamorous female singers of Song Company, followed a Credo by ‘Anonymous’ (1469) for the four male voices, including Antony Pitts himself.
The intimate and crisp acoustics of the Independent Theatre were perfect for a concert of such beauty and spirituality. Extensive, educative and detailed program notes explained the historic musical journey we were on and the definition of polyphony – “the combination of apparently independent voice parts into a harmonious whole”, adding it was “one of the noblest inventions of the human mind”. A big claim, but in the hands of Song Company, we were true believers!
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