(Adelaide Chamber Singers, Adelaide Festival, St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide, 15 March 2023)
10 pm. St Peter’s Cathedral. After a quick drink at the Cathedral Hotel, we took our pews to see and hear the 20-strong* Adelaide Chamber Singers perform liturgical and general choral works, medieval and contemporary, all paeans to the heavens, under expert conductor Christie Anderson. They were sublime; strong but subtle, and in both harmony and melody, they provided great clarity.
The beautiful vaulted interior of St Peters provided the stage from which the ensemble sallied forth, disported about various points of the cathedral (high altar, pulpit, along the aisles, and so on). The programme (set out in full below) ranged from two interesting takes on J.S. Bach pieces; Elgar’s traditional and magnificent Lux Aeterna; a gorgeous homage to Dante, We Beheld once Again the Stars; and a simple poem called Stars, which came alive as the group gathered before the pulpit and sang whilst accompanying themselves with a cumulative glass harp (see the picture at the foot of this post).
The ‘surround-sound’ really came home to this correspondent during the lush funereal poem, Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep. L having stepped outside briefly for some air, P joined her to check all was well, but found on returning through the vestibule, that he was surrounded by the Singers, performing at the back (i.e. the front) of the cathedral. Neither sufficiently inspired nor able to join them, P crept into the nearest seat, which turned out to be reserved for a “Cathedral Steward.” After the enchanting experience of listening, virtually amid the group, it was slightly enervating to be approached by a lady (we assume a “Cathedral Steward”) who hissed at your reporter: “Move!” But this justifiable yet brutal rebuke couldn’t detract from a truly wonderful experience.
Dou Way Robyn/Sancta Mater Gratiae (Anon C13th English, arr. Trio Mediæval)
Ubi Caritas (Paul Mealor)
Stars (Ēriks Ešenvalds)
We Beheld Once Again the Stars (Z Randall Stroope)
Bach (Again) Come Sweet Death (JS Bach, arr. Rhonda Sandberg)
Sleep (Eric Whitacre)
Videte Miraculum (Thomas Tallis)
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep (Joe Twist)
Lux Aeterna (Edward Elgar)[*The singers: Andrew Bettison, Alexandra Bollard, Emma Borgas, Rachel Bruerville, Richard Black, Jonathan Bligh, Victoria Coxhill, Courtney Day, Christopher Gann, David Hamer, Nikolai Leske, Martin Penhale, Jordan Rose, Matthew Rutty, Sophie Schumacher, Imogen Tonkin, Kit Tonkin, Brooke Window, Emma Woehle, and Graham Yuile.]