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When "unaccompanied" means the ultimate in togetherness...

The upcoming concert season “Lux Aeterna” (Eternal Light), showcases something at which the Oriana Choir excels, namely a cappella, or unaccompanied, singing.

The term, ‘a cappella’, is Italian (as are the vast majority of musical terms!), and its literal meaning is ‘in the manner of the chapel’, for that is where it began. When you see a piece of sheet music with notation for voices but not instruments, or where the instrumental part is marked ‘for practise only’, you know that it is to be performed without accompaniment. ‘A cappella’ contrasts with ‘cantata’, which refers to accompanied singing.

A cappella singing had its origins in church and other religious music, from many cultures around the world. Gregorian chant is a fine example of a cappella singing, and so is a lot of non-religious vocal music dating from the Renaissance. This included madrigals, which were multi-voiced secular songs, often with a subject or mood that was anything but sacred or devotional!

And a cappella music has continued to be popular down to our own times. This is reflected in the programme for “Lux Aerterna”, which features a cappella works from the 16th century to the 21st, from Palestrina’s “Sicut cervus” (As the Deer) to Ola Gjeilo’s “Ubi Caritas” (Where Love Is).

Because there is no accompanying music when singing a cappella, there is a greater than normal imperative on the part of individual choristers to listen to one another, to both their own vocal part, but also to the other parts, to ensure that they are all in tune, in time, and blending properly with one another. The skills involved in achieving this require a great deal of patience, concentration, practice and application.

From its inception, Oriana majored on a cappella singing, striving for excellence in beautiful, controlled, emotional music, with only the voices to express the meaning and beauty of the music. In “Lux Aeterna”, you will experience a veritable banquet of this sort of musical delight. You will be moved in your heart and your spirit.

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