Lliane Clarke | 2 April 2019
Sam Allchurch took his audience to heart and taught them a thing or two about singing in his first subscription concert as Music Director for Sydney Chamber Choir in 2019.
‘Music on Music’ was billed as a celebration of singing as an artform, and the ‘feeling of joy that only singing can give,’ and it certainly lived up to that promise.
The concert was a joyful celebration of the power of the voice and the complexities of vocal expression, and took us on a journey across time within European, American and Australian choral works. Program notes by alto Natalie Shae provided detailed and fascinating insights into each piece and have become one of expected highlights of Sydney Chamber Choir’s concerts.
March Bosch | 3 April 2019
Sometimes, I feel like I give the game away a little too early as a reviewer. I can’t help it; rest assured that sometimes, not much nuance is necessary. Sometimes, against your best judgment, you just have to be unabashedly grateful.
If my past experience with the Sydney Chamber Choir was anything to go by, I expected Saturday night’s program Music on Music to be chock-full with pleasurable and profound choral masterpieces.
Of course, it was, with 12 items bridging about 500 years from Josquin des Prez to Joseph Twist. But it was the sheer quality of the singing, rather than the quantity, that really left me breathless.
Angus McPherson | March 31 2019
The joyous textures of Herbert Howells’ A Hymn for St Cecilia opened Sydney Chamber Choir’s first performance for 2019, Sam Allchurch’s debut as Music Director. Allchurch has big shoes to fill, taking over the choir from the late Richard Gill, but the young conductor – who was also appointed Director of Music at Sydney’s Christ Church St Laurence and Associate Artistic Director at Gondwana Choirs last year – more than delivered the goods in his first outing in the role.
Music on Music saw Sydney Chamber Choir tackle repertoire from the Renaissance through to 21st-century music by Australian composers, in a multi-layered program of music written about music, but which also – as Allchurch explained in a recent column for Limelight – paid tribute to his predecessors at the choir, from the Renaissance music beloved of Nicholas Routley, to music written by Paul Stanhope, and, of course, Richard Gill, in Elliot Carter’s setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem Musicians Wrestle Everywhere.
Victoria Watson | 30 March 2019
Sydney Chamber Choir was formed in the 1970s by students of Sydney University. In the decades since, it has evolved into a fine, tightly knit ensemble of musicians, dedicated to presenting choral works that celebrate the voice, great choral composition and the flowering of the mind through language.
With the sad loss of their director Richard Gill AO in 2018, they have looked to a young man steeped in both Australian and English choral traditions to take the reins and steer them wisely and creatively into the future. Sam Allchurch grew up singing with Gondwana voices (Sydney Children’s Choir), was mentored by Lyn Williams and went on to Cambridge University as a choral scholar supported by the Gates Foundation. For his debut concert conducting this fine ensemble Allchurch drew on the ensemble’s own history, honouring past conductors through his widely contrasting programme choices, and binding the whole together cleverly with a theme of songs about singing – Music on music.
Paul Nolan | 2 April 2019
Sydney Chamber Choir opened its 2019 season with a joyous and diverse celebration of choral music spanning over five centuries. Titled ‘Music on Music’, the event delivered layers of choral composition from early music through to the innovative current day, The use of similar text or musical concepts across time reappeared in new guises throughout.
From the concert’s outset, newly appointed Musical Director and specialist choral conductor Sam Allchurch brought out a seamless blend from the combined talent of the choir. Lush and warm singing delighted from the first phrase of Herbert Howells’ A Hymn for St Cecilia which opened the concert.