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Jul 18

Photos: New England Sings review

Photos: New England Sings review TweetFacebookExpress.
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Lorraine Coffey’s review can be found below.

The theme for this year’s award winning New England Sings was “Scenes from New England”. It couldn’t have been more aptly named. Over 900 musicians and choristers thrilled a sold-out audience from start to finish with their repertoire of song.

Two major works were commissioned to mark the 10th anniversary of the New England Conservatorium of Music and premiered at the event.

Armidale’s own Sophie Masson wrote three poems; Frosty School Morning, Midday at the Waterhole and Lyrebird Sunset which were set to music by composer, Harley Mead. Tragically, Harley passed away only weeks before the performance, but Sophie was in the audience and applauded his music set to her poems.

Composer, Christopher Gordon, was charged with the challenge to set two of Judith Wright’s poems to music. Two Birds; Black Swans and Magpies was a fascinating blend of the darkness Wright wove into the Black Swans poem, and the joy of the song of the Magpies. Gordon, whose film and television music includes Mao’s Last Dancer and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, was also in the audience to hear his work which was conducted by Australia’s leading director of choirs for young people, Lyn Williams OAM.

Composers Luke Byrne (Tengo) and Elena Kats-Cherin (Deep Sea Dreaming) were also on hand to hear their works performed in fine fashion; Luke Byrne accompanied his composition. The choir and orchestra gave a beautiful performance of Elena’s Deep Sea Dreaming, her work that was commissioned for the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony.

We are so fortunate in Armidale to have so many talented singers and musicians, nurtured by such dedicated teaches and accompanists; Warwick Dunham, Rowena Tall, Rowena Teege, Leeane Roobol, Robyn Bradley – not to forget the student conductor Oliver Bruhl, and music therapist Natalie Nugent and her work with the Side by Side Choir.

Talent abounds in our students, where one moment a young lady was singing her heart out with the Cantilena Singers, and the next she was in the orchestra playing the cello. There were a few such incarnations during the afternoon. Their parents must be so proud.

Special effects of the didgeridoo in the opening performance, and the whirl of the bagpipes for the closing You’re the Voiceadded strength and atmosphere to a perfect afternoon of music.

Compare, NECOM director, Susanne James, and New England Sings director, Corinne Arter, can be mighty proud of their hard work. It was paid off a million times over in yet another wonderful New England Sings production.

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