What a time it was!
Just a fortnight shy of a year since our last public performance – “Opera Choruses and Gilbert & Sullivan”, December 2019 - Oriana presented “A Babe Is Born”, our one and only concert programme for 2020. The choir was well and truly ‘primed and ready’, and so too, it seems, were the audiences. When Oriana’s President, Melissa Innes, welcomed the audience at Stella Maris School Hall on Saturday with the words, “And welcome to a live concert”, there was a palpable, audible response, which seemed to combine agreement, excitement, anticipation, and even relief – the wait for some locally produced live music was finally over. And people were determined to enjoy it.
The programme consisted of eleven choral works, and a solo piece, performed by special guest, soprano Panayiota Kalatzis, who also contributed to two of the choir’s offerings, including the finale. The opening number, “A Babe Is Born” was an energetic, upbeat piece which really ‘set the mood’, and the choir maintained energy and passion through every succeeding song.
Highlights included “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day”, which is a sort of little brother to “Lord Of the Dance”; “I Wonder As I Wander”, a lovely a-cappella piece in which choir and soloist blended beautifully; “Ecce Novum”, a beautiful, emotion-filled work by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo; “O Magnum Mysterium”, another a-cappella piece which showcased the choir’s mastery of controlled, slow singing; and “O Holy Night”, the finale, which brought the concert to a close on a truly high note, musically and emotionally.
It was tremendously gratifying to conductor and choristers to see that, as a result of the eleventh hour approval for up to one hundred percent attendance, the Saturday afternoon performance had an almost capacity audience. From the opening piece, “A Babe Is Born”, we could sense that they were with us, and they continued with us right to the end.
Sunday’s performance at St John’s Cathedral was a delight. The acoustic and the reverberation gave the music a real lift, and added a sense of drama to some of the pieces, particularly the a-cappella numbers. And even though the audience at the cathedral was smaller than the one at Stella Maris (though not by much!), they were no less enthusiastic in showing their appreciation. It was especially gratifying to the choir to receive standing ovations at the end of both concerts. For a choir, there’s no better feeling than knowing that your performance has given people genuine pleasure and enjoyment, and that what you have presented has touched them at an emotional level.
Kim Kirkman did a fantastic job of preparing the choir for these concerts, and he conducted us superbly. The accompaniment provided by the incomparable Fay Baker was, as usual, faultless. Huge thanks to them both.
The fact that the Cathedral concert was live-streamed, enabling people all over Australia and the world to see and hear us in real time, made the weekend even more memorable. If you were unable to be there, and could not see it at the time, you can still see the concert. Simply go to the link below, and enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhjW8K7ogyo&t=3556s