#126: See a live choir

There’s something about singing. It lifts hearts, it alters moods, and it connects worshippers to the god of their choosing.

My father has recently joined the Canberra Choral Society, a large and professional group that has been running for over half a century.

They performed live and free on Easter Sunday, featuring Karen Fitz-Gibbon (a spectacular new soprano, who isn’t quite finished her degree) and Peter Young (organist), conducted by Dr Peter Pocock and Tobias Cole. The performance was funded and produced by ABC Classic FM, who will be producing a variety of performances at 2:50pm Sundays in the School of Music building at the Australian National University. The down side of such a big event is that I can’t publish the photos or videos I took. (Some of the many people involved are fine with it, and others aren’t.)

Peter Young played a portable organ (about as portable as a grand piano), sliding on and off the seat like a twelve-year old to avoid hitting the dozens of foot pedals. (The seat also had a large crank on the side to ensure that whoever played it didn’t sit with their feet touching the ground.) It was marvellously entertaining to watch – rather like seeing someone play three pianos while also playing “Dance Dance Revolution”. The more gothic the tune, the more his feet skittered around the pedals.

Karen Fitz-Gibbon sang as if her voice came not from her small form, but from the whole auditorium at once. It was heavenly. (Then she blushed and giggled like a fifteen-year old at all the applause.)

The conductors must have done warm-up exercises before coming on, or they’d have done themselves an injury – they were that committed to their work. Dr Peter Pocock was red-faced and trembling with passion, channeling the music of the whole choir. Tobias Cole conducted with his whole body – face, arms, and knees.

Another enjoyable element of Tobias Cole’s performance was that he bears a passing resemblance to the actor Aidan Turner, who I know best as the blood-addicted vampire from “Being Human” (MA rated at least). I think my notion that the conductor was actually a terrifying serial killer added to the performance.

The choir was exactly what I expected: unearthly, vibrant, and generally awesome. It’s a good thing they sing mainly in Italian, though, since the translations tend to be less than noble. Here’s a sample:

This little bird who
sings so sweet
and lasciviously flies now from the fir to the beech

 


Play along at home: Search online for free performances in your area. If you’re in Canberra, come and see “Guitar Trek” this Sunday at the School of Music at 2:50pm. CJ and I will be there.

Tomorrow’s awesomeness: I take a bath.

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