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Australia 2016

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Trinity choir a gift from above

Perth Concert Hall
Thursday 28 July

It doesn’t get much better than this: one of the world’s finest choirs showcasing their considerable musical and technical gifts with immaculate performances of choral works from the Renaissance through to the 21st century in a concert hall renowned for its fine acoustics.

This Thursday night concert was part of the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge’s second Australian tour for Musica Viva.

This time round, the 30 or so choral scholars and two organ scholars conducted by Stephen Layton performed pieces by well-known composers such as Arvo Pärt, William Byrd, Edward Elgar and Herbert Howells, and lesser-known composers like Steven Stucky, Eriks Ešenvalds and Owain Park.

Indeed, Park, one of the organ scholars, emerged from the choir to take a bow following an energetic account of his The Wings of the Wind, which moves from tempest to calm to radiance with witty deftness.

It made a fine counterpart to Australian composer Joseph Twist’s Hymn of Ancient Lands in the second half of the concert. Commissioned for Musica Viva for this tour, Twist’s setting of the ancient Hymn of Caedmon evokes not only the breadth and majesty of the Australian landscape and the variety of its flora and fauna, but all of creation.

From counterparts to counterpoints, Howells’ Te Deum and Elgar’s Give unto the Lord, both accompanied by organ and redolent of God and Empire, threw the florid delicacy of Thomas Tallis’ Salvator mundi and Ešenvalds’ The Heavens’ Flock into even sharper relief.

And if Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir provided the musical climax, it fell to an encore performance of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Ekteniya of the Litany, previously heard in the first half, to provide the emotional one, with news of Ruatavaara’s death coming through only minutes before.

The world may be a poorer place for having lost one of the giants of choral music. But choirs such as this one will ensure his music is never forgotten.


William Yeoman