The Sunshine Coast Choral Society performed Messiah at the Lake Kawana Community Centre on Saturday, November 24 and at the Bicentennial Hall in Noosa on Sunday, November 25.
The Sunday performance I attended showed few signs of flagging spirits despite the 3 hour long program. Handel composed Messiah in 3 weeks and conducted the first performance in Dublin in 1742. It is now the most performed oratorio of all time as countless choral societies worldwide perform this evergreen work which never seems to lose its appeal, especially at Christmas time.
English conductor, Adrian King was very much “at home”, having conducted the work many times in the UK. He had the choir firmly in his control from the first note. The choir’s diction was clear, and the articulation precise. The 20 piece orchestra provided a pleasing balance to the singers, never overpowering them.
Queensland seems blessed with splendid quality singers, as the soloists were outstanding. Local soprano, Caroline Chown, sang with mastery throughout and with beautiful tonal contrast and I personally found I know that my Redeemer Liveth particularly moving. The Coast is fortunate that Caroline chose to teach singing to possible future choir members, rather than pursue an international singing career.
Bass, Michael Strasser, accompanied by Warren Brewer on trumpet, delighted with his performance of The trumpet shall sound and moved the audience with his expressive Why do the Nations so furiously rage together? Tenor, Michael Paroz, has a strong voice and sung convincingly throughout with his opening recitative Comfort ye setting the tone for the whole oratorio.
The surprise among the soloists was counter-tenor, Ron Morris, whose extraordinarily beautiful sound I initially found a little disconcerting due to the somewhat unexpected pitch. But with his high notes as exquisite as they were, it was a treat to hear such a rare voice.
The oratorio is noted for the majestic choruses and moving solos which thrill and inspire its audiences. It is, despite its popularity, fiendishly difficult to sing, yet under Adrian King’s baton, the choruses were taken at a brisk pace, giving the music an exciting momentum.
Adrian King invited the audience to join in the tradition started by King George II and stand for the Hallelujah chorus – surely be the most stirring piece of music ever written.
The tympani added to the majesty of this and also the final chorus Worthy is the lamb. The slow chorus of full bodied harmonies, some unison singing by the male choir members was a gloriously inspiring conclusion.
The debut of recently appointed conductor, Adrian King, marked the start of a new era for the Sunshine Coast Choral Society on Sunday, August 12 at the Lake Kawana Community Centre. The large and appreciative audience was taken on a musical journey around the world, starting and finishing with Australia. It also marked a welcome return of accompanist Fay Baker.
Inevitably there is a transition period when there is a change of conductors. Adrian King showed he has the skills to take the choir through this period with his effective and restrained style and his warm personality.
The choir was at their best in the English madrigal The Silver Swan, and Mozart’sAve Verum. The Cantique de Jean Racine of Faure was very pleasing and Finlandiaby Sibelius showed good balance between the parts and was well received.
The two Australian songs depicting the Sunrise and Sunset were new to me and I found them very effective and exciting. Was it a co-incidence that after hearing the wonderful song Sunset at the end of the program that we were all treated to a spectacular sunset on our way home?
The strength of the choir at present clearly lies with the sopranos. I was tempted to ask where are all the men? – come back! – they need you! The basses excelled in the Anvil Chorus, but more male voices are needed for balance in the choir.
Soloist Desmond Taylor had an illustrious career as a singer in earlier days. He bravely sang from his wheelchair and we were treated to glimpses of his former glory. The audience was moved by his passion for singing, which keeps him alive as he battles very major health problems.
It was a huge and delightful surprise when Adrian King turned around from conducting to sing with Christine Ferraro in Brindisi the Drinking Song from La Traviata by Verdi. It was a treat to experience his light tenor voice with Christine’s gorgeous soprano sound filling the hall. They captured the spirit of this rollicking aria, making it one of the many highlights of the afternoon.
Christine seemed equally at home in Vilia from the Merry Widow, Somewherefrom West Side Story and Tonight. Toujours by Faure was sung with passion and conviction.
A brand new hall deserves a better piano for concerts of serious music. There is a wonderful opportunity for someone to donate a really good instrument to this venue.