Album Review: Hooray For Song! / The Sydney Children’s Choir/ Lyn Williams And Friends
Described as a ‘singing adventure’, the Sydney Children’s Choir’s new album release Hooray for Song! is a lively collection of songs written especially with young singers in mind.
Since being established in 1989 by Lyn Williams OAM, who continues to serve as Artistic Director, the choir has commissioned numerous Australian composers to write and arrange songs for ensembles of young singers. Hooray for Song! represents some of the best of these selections.
The 27 songs have the hallmarks of repertoire that will appeal to children. They are brief, witty, with catchy tunes that tell numerous tales of nature, history, identity and emotion. Written in unison as well as splitting into parts and simple rounds, the songs are a worthy introduction to melody and harmony for both singers and listeners. The instrumentation is generous featuring piano and a veritable mini – orchestra that contains all sections except for the brass. The sound effects and instrumental writing vividly enhance the words, bringing to life the narrative from songs like Stephen Leek’s Black Swan Singing to Lyn Williams’ The Wind and Sally Whitwell’s The Magic Toybox. Rhythms vary from the conventional to the syncopated ostinato of Dan Walker’s High Street and the languid jazz of Lyn Williams’ Hello Ele-fish.
The writers and arrangers represent some of the best in contemporary Australian talent, many of whom have worked with the choir and who therefore have a deep understanding of the children’s voices and their capabilities – Lyn Williams herself, Dan Walker, Sally Whitwell, Stephen Leek, Michael Atherton, Ben van Tienen, Alice Chance, Jessica Wells and Joseph Twist. Many of the composers have written their own texts; other songs are ‘traditional’ or are set to words by the likes of C J Dennis and Christina Rossetti. Jessica Wells does a brilliant job of arranging and intertwining the traditional songs – Oranges and Lemons with Frère Jacques and Michael Finnegan with It’s Raining It’s Pouring.
The 19 singers who perform on this recording create the classical sound of a children’s choir – crystal clear in tone, a seamless blend that is free of vibrato; unerring in pitch and secure in rhythm and their sense of ensemble.
As well as the sheer fun of ensemble singing, its benefits to both children and adults have been documented extensively. This anthology additionally gives children something relevant to their culture that they can sing about. Who these days finds the nursery rhymes of previous generations relevant in time or place?
Another critically important facet is that some of these songs can serve as a cathartic tool for expressing difficult emotions and for developing inner strengths. Ben van Tienen’s Some Days and Dan Walker’s Pilliga Stamp, for example, are quite powerful beneath their simplicity.
The album comes with a booklet resplendent in colour and design which contains all the words – indispensable for sing-alongs!
These songs can be sung on bus-trips or in solitude; learnt as simple unison songs or at a more complex harmonic level; they can be listened to whilst falling asleep or create merriment in the classroom. With its quintessentially Australian content and use of the vernacular sprinkled through, Hooray for Song! is an anthology that builds a heritage of song that is relevant and appealing to Australian children.
Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©
Click here to purchase the CD
Click here to read about the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir project with the Vienna Boys Choir Vienna – Cairns – Sydney