07 July 2013

Tallis and continuity

The Musical Offering keeps on giving, this time with Igitur nos singing in the National Library foyer. It was only a short concert, but pure in the way of the Iggies (not a term I concocted). They sang from the books of Thomas Tallis, Eric Whittaker, Edward Bairstow and Maurice durufle.
These are religious songs, mostly dating from far before Canberra’s establishment but a few from after, mediaeval in impression if not always in date. I noticed blooming vocal attacks from these singers and I imagine this allows them to neaten their tone and intonation. This is gentle music, softly portrayed, even if complex in form and movement. I noticed some harshness on high soprano notes while listening from the ground floor in the marble space, but this dissipated from the balcony above. Up there, the tone was more pure and the parts nicely balanced and the counterpoint so evident: the basses rich and supportive and the tenors and altos moving under the soprano melodies. The audience was entranced, even if unsuspecting: happening on a choral performance when coming to study or emerging from bookshop or café. It’s a life-affirming experience to happen on a choir like this, and so apt in an institution of learning and memory that is a library. Not that a library is all so pure: for some it’s a place of work with all its workplace tiffs and managerial organisation and social happenings and the rest. Megan and I worked here many years back. Matthew Stuckings, Igitur nos’ musical director, currently works here as a mansucripts librarian. You can forget its importance when it’s a daily visit, but a concert like this is a reminder. A choir singing Tallis, with all its resonances of history and continuity, just confirms the noble role of the Library. Igitur nos is always a joy as is this institution, and, for that matter, the Musical Offering.

Igitur nos performed in the foyer of the National Library of Australia for the C100 Musical Offering. Matthew Stuckings conducted.

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