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It’s hard to say what determines a masterwork. Are they pieces of undeniably great genius and serious creative endeavour? Are they the pieces which we can remember hearing for the first time? Are they the pieces we come back to, time and time again, finding new things in familiar places?
We begin with perhaps the most obvious masterwork of all, Handel’s Messiah. It is hard to imagine a piece of music which has shaped the choral tradition more keenly than this oratorio, and as an encyclopedia of human emotion it has perhaps only one or two rivals. Sydney Chamber Choir has only performed this work once before, more than thirty years ago, and so it is a great privilege to be leading its performance to begin 2020.
Paul Stanhope is undeniably one of Australia’s master composers, having established a distinctive appealing voice and produced a substantial oeuvre loved by audiences and singers alike. Paul has an extremely close relationship with the choir, developed from his time as Music Director between 2005 and 2015, and before that as a member of the tenor section! Paul’s music fits the choir like a glove and it is a great joy to premiere his Requiem, an extended work for choir and instruments, which will no doubt become a modern masterwork.
And then there are the masterworks which deserve to be known better. Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir is one such work, not often performed and certainly not known beyond the choral world. As anyone who has ever heard the piece will attest, this is truly a masterpiece – a tour de force of a cappella technique and emotional power. Martin composed the work in the 1920s and then kept it a secret (between himself and God) until finally allowing it to be performed in the 1960s. We pair this with an extended new work by Joe Twist, an award-winning young Australian composer now working in the US.
So join us for this season of masterworks, old and new. In the finest acoustics in Sydney – City Recital Hall and the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music – let us bring you the finest music.