Sunday, March 9, 2008

It always makes me wish I could sing like that

The Idea of North, and Adelaide Chamber Singers are two of my favourite acts to see live, so it's been great to see them both at the Fringe recently after not going to any concerts for a while.

I could wax lyrical about both these groups for ages - the skill of the singers in both groups is amazing.  The Idea of North are fantastic fun, and I'm constantly in awe of their ability to sing those tricky jazz harmonies.  Adelaide Chamber Singers do a lot of genuinely beautiful music, and the blend of sound they achieve as a group is amazing, especially when you consider that this is not their day job: while there are a number of up-and-coming or aspiring professional singers in the group, many of them have completely unrelated day jobs.

That said, I must confess to a sense of disappointment with the ACS concert last night.  It's not that they didn't sound good.  Although I did think that I've heard one of the soloists sing better than she did yesterday, and I maintain that counter-tenors are odd beasts, the group as a whole maintained their usual lovely, blended sound.  Part of the problem was the stifling heat and complete lack of any air flow in the cathedral last night, but for me, the real difficulty came with the choice of music for the concert.  Specifically, the major work, Arvo Pärt's Miserere.

This just turned out to be a piece of music that I couldn't really appreciate.  Pärt's music is frequently, uh... challenging, in the sense of unusual, pushing boundaries; but personally I couldn't even say that much for the Miserere .  I can appreciate how this could be a really atmospheric work in the right conditions, but I found it "long and tedious", to borrow my dad's words.   It's a pity, because I wanted to enjoy it, and it closed out the concert after some really lovely music in the Victoria Lamentations of Jeremiah for Maundy Thursday, and the MacMillan Christus Vincit.  Because it was the final work, it unfortunately put a bit of a dampener on my impressions of the concert, because for me, it was just a bit...nothing.  A little boring, to be blunt.

Despite not enjoying the Pärt itself, I did enjoy hearing some choir members sing solos, who I've not really heard individually before.  It was great to see some of the younger/ less prominent choir members get that opportunity.  There were also some singers last night who I've never seen sing with ACS before, and in particular it was great to see some singers who I recognise from a Conservatorium choir I sing in - it's nice to see them begin to move through into a high-profile choir like ACS.

Friday last week was the Idea of North's final Fringe show, and it was the first time I've seen Idea with their new soprano, Sally (I don't know her last name).  They've just announced that she will be permanently replacing Trish Delaney-Brown, who's still listed as the soprano on their website, but has decided not to return from maternity leave.

I must admit it was weird at first; you just expect to see the same people on stage every time.  But having got past "but...that's not Trish!"  I was impressed.  Sally seems to have slotted in to the group really well: she's certainly got the skill as a jazz/ a cappella singer, she blends (in terms of her sound) really well with the rest of the group, and she was having fun on stage.  All vital for an Idea member, in my opinion!

The other change as a result of Trish leaving the group, is that Naomi Crellin (alto) has taken over a lot of the female vocal solos that Trish used to do.  As an alto and an Adelaide girl myself, I thought this was fantastic ;)  She's taken this role on really well and it sounds great.  It was also great to see Idea in a small venue again,  this time the Promethian - the smaller, more intimate space really suits their easy, relaxed style on stage.  Overall a fantastic concert, as always.

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