28 January 2013

Here and there

SCUNA called this concert Here, there and back again. Although I had forgotten the name at the time of the concert, I felt this movement. Firstly, the music was mediaeval accompanied by lute and harmonium and recorders. This speaks to me of belief and piety and great cathedrals but add percussion and classic 1 2+ or 1 2+3 rhythms and it’s more bawdy dens and rollicking wenches. Then I noticed a drone and more recent harmony (an understandable challenge to the choir) and touches of English that I recognised, speaking of sleep and love. This was obviously modern but still had resonances of deep choral history. The two feel returned with a dancable gait. Then more from the past and a return to the present singing “break my heart again … trying to pretend” and an end with gospel and blues: Swing low sweet chariot with a classic black male call, a blues lament and an odd but amusing disjunct of barbershop. It was a short concert or twleve short pieces and with no chatter with the audience. I would have liked to hear just what it was we were listening to. It’s common for choirs to have a historical bent, and SCUNA certainly displayed one here. Even the modern tunes had a relationship to the past despite more modern harmonies or lyrics. But it’s obvious the group enjoys its outings, and they are a decent choir singing a range of musics. I particularly enjoyed renewing a love of male voices when one tune featured a passage reminding me of chant. I enjoyed the solo voices and the gospel calls and the mediaeval sound of recorders and drums. I could imagine boisterous swilling and dancing as in one or another Breughel. But barbershop is where it ended, and that’s much more of the present. So, this was a lovely Sunday interlude that happened to celebrate the weekend of Australia day. As I left I thought of identity, a recurring theme on this weekend. Give us something to identify ourselves in the sweep of history, as this concert did. Better a greater understanding, than some nationalist symbol of us and them. SCUNA performed at the High Court for the Musical Offerings series, with Andrew Koll (conductor), Anthony Smith (repetiteur, keyboard) and Steven Weller (percussion).

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