The Sydney Chamber Choir conducted by its Musical Director Paul Stanhope performs two vividly contrasting Eastertide settings of Christ’s final words on the cross. James MacMillan’s dramatic cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross delivers a powerful Easter message, alongside a sublime contemplative setting by the German Baroque master Heinrich Schütz.
Themes of sorrow and redemption are further explored in the anguished music of Lassus, Victoria and Gesualdo. The ensemble will premiere a new a cappella movement from the Missa Solis: Requiem for Eli by the two-time APRA Award-winning Australian composer Nigel Westlake. Written as a tribute to his son, tragically lost in an accident, it provides a personal perspective on suffering and the healing power of music.
In another ‘first’, the Sydney Chamber Choir will join forces with chamber ensemble Sydney Camerata. Formed in 2008 by its Artistic Director and cellist Mathisha Panagoda, Sydney Camerata is a young and exuberant ensemble comprising some of the finest emerging classical musicians in Australia. In its brief career, Sydney Camerata has already garnered a formidable reputation. In 2010 the sextet of core members was awarded the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod Musica Viva Award for Chamber Music and in 2012 their String Quartet was named Musica Viva’s ‘Rising Stars’, participating in the Musica Viva development programme.
Mathisha Panagoda says, “The Sydney Camerata are most excited to join forces with the Sydney Chamber Choir in their performance of Seven Last Words on March 24 in the magnificent setting of the University of Sydney’s Great Hall.”
He adds, “This will be the first time Sydney Camerata has performed with a choir and we feel very fortunate to be working under the direction of renowned Australian composer and musical director Paul Stanhope.
We will be performing two pieces with the choir both based on the seven last words of Christ from the cross. The first work by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) will involve a smaller ensemble of 7 string players performing with baroque bows. The second work we will perform is by contemporary British composer James MacMillan (b. 1959) for which our ensemble will double in size to 14 string players performing on their modern instruments. The work contains numerous challenging passages for the musicians as well as some beautifully lyrical solo passages.”
For this collaboration, Sydney Camerata is joined by guest concertmaster Peter Clark from Melbourne, and string players from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
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