Gondwana Choirs’ Artistic Director Lyn Williams OAM, and Conductor Sam Allchurch, talk about the program for Eternal Voices – their Sydney Children’s Choir concert on at the City Recital Hall on 14 June.
What were you wanting to convey through the music chosen for this concert?
LYN WILLIAMS –
We are capturing the ethereal quality of the young singing voice and that is tied to the concept of ‘eternal’. And then we have the contrasting concept that the young voice is transient and ephemeral – it changes and disappears in no time at all.
SAM ALLCHURCH –
Yes, and that change happens for both girls and boys. Obviously pe¬¬ople notice it more in the boys’ voices when they change from being trebles to young tenors or bases, but it also happens in girls’ voices although more subtle ways.
LYN – Definitely! They are not the same at age 11 as they are at 14 or 18 or 28.
Most of the pieces in the first half try to capture something of that ethereal quality and we have book-ended that part of the program with Hildegard of Bingen’s O Eternal God and we finish with Michael Bojesen’s Eternity.
What will audiences remember most vividly from the Eternal Voices program?
LYN – The sound
SAM – Yes, the sheer beauty of sound is what we can really offer. The choristers can really create this seraphic quality.
And, you get quite a lot of bang for your buck in this concert in that you get our Senior Choir which is a very different sound to the Junior Performing Choir as well as the young men’s choir. Compared with many other concerts, there is a great variety of sound.
LYN – And then you combine these amazing sounds, and that’s another thing again.
You have a world premiere in the second half that you commissioned, can you preview that for us?
LYN – There are two big works in the second half. We have Chilcott’s Five Days that Changed the World, which is a really strong piece from the Chilcott repertoire. That is followed by our new commissioned piece from Dan Walker – Moments that Shaped Australia – which covers indigenous moments as well as events and technological moments.
SAM – And they are not all happy moments. The work doesn’t shy away from difficult moments such as the massacre at Port Arthur. What happened with gun laws afterwards was momentous but the event itself, tragic.
LYN – The opening piece A New Sky touches on another issue that can be difficult to approach – British colonisation. But Walker approaches it in a really good way, I think. He looks at it from the perspective of William Dawes who was the astronomer for the First Fleet. Dawes made very close connections and friendships with the local Cammeraygal people. He wrote down a lot of the language that they were speaking and so these words are included in the song. For pronunciation guidance on that text, we’ve had valuable input from cultural consultant Matthew Doyle.
Really, there are so many landmark events in our history and I feel that Moments that Shaped Australia really is the start of something bigger – that it will lead to a whole series of pieces about Australian moments.
Moments That Shaped Australia were chosen by the choristers of the Sydney Children’s Choir and the music explores the early stage of British colonisation, the pioneers of women’s suffrage in South Australia, the landmark Mabo High Court case, the Port Arthur Massacre and the invention of Wi-Fi by the CSIRO.
Information on Eternal Voices concert – gondwana.org.au/whats-on
Bookings – cityrecitalhall.com or 98256 2222
Hear the Sydney Children’s Choir perform Kim André Arnesen Flight Song -YouTube
Link to full program