I may have just experienced the perfect rainy Sunday in Melbourne. It begun with caffine delights from a hidden cafe and was followed by a performance of Miserere by the Australian Chamber Choir. The show was a wonderful break from my daily routine and a chance to get lost in the ambience of pure talent.
Before Sunday, I had never seen a choir performance except for on Christmas day or during a Qantas advertisement. As soon as I entered Our Lady of Mt Carmel's church, I was promptly given a VIP seating ticket. I tentatively stepped inside (for fear that I would melt) and quietly took my seat in full view of the stage. I was still processing the fact that I had somehow made the transition from crowd surfing at festivals to being a VIP in church, as the show begun. The choir walked sombrely in a single file behind the conductor before singing their first piece, 'Out of the Deep' by Thomas Morley. The choir itself consists of 18 members, ranging from music students to Barristers and even a former racing car driver. The clarity, volume and talent of these perfectly syncronised individuals was simply outstanding. It was instantly apparent that each individual was uniquely gifted and that together they simply complimentated and ecentuated one another beautifully.
The second piece, 'Miserere' was one of the stand out performances of the afternoon. An unsual composition from Penderecki, it's approach was experimental and included hissing and giggling from the choir. To me this piece was truly haunting. The voices rang out like heavy church bells, expressing an emotion darker than the other songs. I was truly impressed with the musical ability of the choir who sung in several languages and still managed to convey emotional depth. Even the German language (which is not very romantic to my ear) became beautiful and really resonated. Other pieces that caught my attention included 'Miserere' by Allegri, which is apparently a one hit wonder of the classical world. With an intriguing back story of Vatican secrecy and a young Mozart, I was captivated. The song was a lengthy rendition of redemption and was execuated brilliantly.
The piece called 'Aire De Nocturno' by Estrada also stood out for it's modern seeming approach. Phrases from the famous Spanish poem performed in spoken word added meaningful emphasis. The audience was gracious, listening attentively and clapping enthusiastically after every performance. Whilst I may have been the only audience member in attendance not holding a Senior's card, I truly did appreciate the performance. For a show that bases itself almost exclusively on choral lamentation, I have never heard grief expressed so beautifully. I recommened mixing up your musical appreciation and trying the Australian Chamber Choir next time they perform in your state.
The show was a delight and to my surprise, I did not melt into a puddle of my own deviance. Win, win.