28 December 2017
A maturing project
I've been watching Charis' new choir for a year or so now. It's only in 2016 that I Progetti appeared. Charis had been with SCUNA in my awareness, but this was her new project. Projects, perhaps? I Progetti is a small chamber choir, working alone or with others, with unfamiliar choral repertoire. I imagine a repertoire from the Renaissance or thereabouts, but they also sing new material, not least by one of their singers, bassist Mark Chapman. Touche! I love performance and perfection, but it's also nice to see some creation beyond interpretation or improvisation. I've been feeling that recently, noting various indie musos who write music rather than just perform it. But back to this performance. It was free, days before Christmas, in the lovely space of the NPG foyer with its high roof and timber and acoustics. Other than Mark's composition (called Welcome Yule!) it was C16-C17 with a touch of C18. Think Josquin des Pres, Monteverdi, Purcell, Praetorius and a string of more obscure names. But so nicely done! These voices really did sit well together with three per SATB section. The basses were rich and sonorous, the sopranos reaching into the sky, the altos spelling those balancing harmonies and the tenors firm and incisive. I was particularly struck by some lofty soprano singing in the audience participation at the end. We were all invited to sing Ding dong merrily on high and Hark the Herald angels sing. This is Chrissie after all, and the joy was shared. Such a lovely, artful performance complete with audience involvement. How could you not love it!
I Progetti is Charis Messalina de Valance (director), Deirdre Clink and Ngaire Breen (sopranos), Mary Harwood, Mary Woodhouse and Susannah Bishop (altos), Alex Moruya, Paul Francis, Steven Harris and Tristan Struve (tenors) and Mark Chapman, Peter de Vries, Phill Grant and Steven Strach (basses). Anthony Smith (chamber organ) provided accompaniment.