The Guest Baton: Sam Allchurch

Sydney Chamber Choir is opening its 2017 concert series with a sensational voyage through the emotional music of German Romanticism selected by its young guest conductor, Sam Allchurch. 

Sam was delighted when Richard Gill, the Music Director of Sydney Chamber Choir, invited him to conduct and program this, his first concert with the choir. “This is the chance to dive into such emotionally intense music,” he says. “Brahms, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Schubert – the Romantic era was a real musical awakening when composers were throwing off the old Classical conventions of  balance and restraint, and looking for new, personal ways to communicate feeling. I fell in love with this music back when I was just starting out as a postgrad conducting student at Cambridge University – actually, it was even before then, when I was playing the organ at Sydney Grammar School! It’s been with me all the way through my career.”

Recognised as one of Australia’s most exciting emerging choral conductors, Sam is establishing a reputation for artistic excellence. He is currently an Associate Conductor of Gondwana Choirs, working particularly with changing male voices and on orchestral preparation. In 2016, he was also Acting Director of Music at Trinity College, University of Melbourne.

“The beauty of this music is something really very special,” says Sam, who graduated in music from both Melbourne and Cambridge Universities. “We all know the masters of German music but their choral music is so heartfelt, and it deserves to be better heard. The rich sound and detailing of these 34 fantastic voices of the Sydney Chamber Choir do it perfect justice.”

Inspired by a deep awe of the transcendent, the German Romantics opened up choral music to unlimited horizons of both grandeur and intimacy. This program celebrates the rich beauty of their sacred music, from the eloquence of Mendelssohn, the delicacy of Schubert and the resonant harmonies of Brahms and Bruckner, to Schoenberg’s passionate and powerful plea for peace on earth.

Also joining with Sydney Chamber Choir for this concert is pianist Jem Harding, a regular collaborator with Allchurch and with Gondwana Voices. The piano was the favourite instrument of the Romantics, and Jem will be featured in solo piano music by Mendelssohn, as well as choral works by Brahms and Schubert.

The Choir will also sing Bruckner’s Christus factus est, along with other a cappella works by Herzogenberg and Rheinberger.