In response to the Corinthian’s 2013 Sing Hodie! concert at St John’s, Derrick Selby offered these comments via email:Once again I feel compelled to write to acknowledge the quality of your singing last evening. It took my breath away.
As before, I close my eyes and am transported to heaven during some of the items.
Now that we live most of the year in East Africa we really appreciate what we have left behind in Australia.
Already looking forward to next year’s singing!
Thanks to Derrick and his generosity in sharing his comments.
In response to the Corinthians’ Winter Solstice concert at Coriole, the following was written:
The Angels’ Share
A reflection on ‘the barrel room concert’ by a member of the audience.
On a cold, wet Saturday afternoon, we sat in the “barrel room” at Coriole winery down in McLaren Vale. We were surrounded by stacks of barrels, each containing many gallons of Coriole’s best. As the wine ages in the oak barrels, it seeps into the wood, and creates a heady aroma, a blend of wine and oak which escapes into the air… and it was that rich air we breathed. I was reminded of the time we visited the Glenfiddich distillery in Speyside. As we walked down a gravel path alongside one of the rooms in which one of the giant stills was housed, our guide invited us to pause and breathe the whisky-laden air and said, “We call that the angels’ share.” That opened up a whole new understanding of the term, “a scotch mist !”
But we weren’t at Coriole primarily to taste wine, or even to breathe those heady fumes. The fifty or so people who were there, like us, had gathered to listen to a concert by the Corinthian Singers. Coriole was hosting the concert, then providing lunch, and the whole event was a fund-raiser for the Singers…one of the best of Adelaide’s many fine choral groups.
The programme was a fascinating blend of music ancient and modern…and the choir gave a fine performance under the direction of Christie Anderson, its capable and enthusiastic director/conductor. Her introductions to the items were interesting, brief and witty…she clearly loved her music, and was very proud of her choristers.
An obvious choice for an opening number would have been “Roll out the barrel” but this can’t have been in the Corinthians’ repertoire. Instead, the concert began with a soaring “Laudate Dominum” by contemporary composer, Knut Nystedt. From there on, it was a rich diet of plainsong, classical, folk and gospel…all of it sung with precision and with exquisite harmonies. It’s impossible to pick out “highlights” but I was particularly moved by the hauntingly beautiful, “Lay a garland” by Robert Pearsall. I also greatly enjoyed the very appropriate, “Whines for the wood” – a musical setting by Bob Chilcott’s ofa poem by G.K.Chesterton on a “drinking” theme…and the very clever “Love Lost” – four satirical love songs by Paul Sjolund.
But it was all superb – a wonderful eighty minutes of music: sacred and secular, ancient and modern. The voices blended beautifully and the singers obviously greatly enjoyed making music together: eighty minutes of a cappella singing at its finest.
As the last notes of the last song died away in the rafters of the “barrel room,” I recalled a line I had read recently in an obituary in English newspaper. The person in whose memory the obituary was written, was the American novelist, Kurt Vonnegut, who died a few months ago at the age of ninety-five. There were several quotes from the brilliant but controversial writer, and the one I recalled was : “If I should ever die, God forbid, say that his only proof for the existence of God was music.”
That eighty minutes was more than a concert… it was an affirmation and an inspiration. Kurt would have been rapt…and probably whispered to his neighbour, “See what I mean?”And as those last notes wafted upwards, along with the heady aroma from the oak barrels, I thought to myself, “Yes, and that’s the angels’ share.”