31 October 2015

Hearing angels

It's a children's choir so it's supposed to sound like angels. Someone said that. It might me an old concept and world-view but it's got some truth and this group did sound like angels, perfectly intoned, soaring pitches, gently managed dynamics. This was the Czech Philharmonic Children's Choir. I'm not sure how I knew they were playing, but OI heard of the gig and it intrigued me. It's one benefit of having an embassy in your town. The turnout was decent. The concert was free. The location was St Andrew's, Forest, the unfinished but impressive church facing Parliament House and Capital Hill on the Manuka side. With these perfect performers, I realised how good were the acoustics. And the decent organ and available piano. But of course the stars were the children. They were mostly girls with just a few boys. A string of sopranos out front that would hit the most pure of notes. The harmonies mostly sweet, but moving into twentieth century and chromatics for one or two songs. The words mostly of praise, religious, from the mass, often in latin. Just a few popular numbers, a Ukrainian folk tune and a Czeck moutain song (Hoj, hura hoj! = O Mountain, O!) One song had three girls moving out of the choir and standing just in front of us, perhaps 2 metres away, and the clarity of voices and the precision of their harmony was breathtaking, to be accompanied by the choir and organ. Petr Louzensky, the choirmaster, told me after that this group wins all the competitions it enters. I'd believe it. They have performed at La Scala, Carnegie Hall, Moscow Conservatoire; they have toured five continents. They perform around Prague, in various concert halls, the National Theatre, with the Czech Philharmonic and the National Opera and more and as a bigger choir and have recorded over 50 CDs. And have done for some time: they were established in 1923. Fabulous discovery.

The Czech Philharmonic Children's Choir performed at St Andrew's Forrest. They were led by Petr Louzensky (choirmaster) and accompanied by Jan Kalfus (piano, organ).

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