BWW REVIEW: Sydney Philharmonia Choirs CAROLS AT THE HOUSE Is A Joyous Celebration Of The Season
Saturday 8th December 2018, 1pm, Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Featuring Kerrie Anne Greenland and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, CAROLS AT THE HOUSE brings together Sydney Philharmonia Choirs' Chamber Singers, VOX choir, Symphony Chorus and the special Christmas Choir with the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra to deliver a delightful festive fare. Conductor and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs' Artistic and Music Director Brett Wymark leads an eclectic collection of music spanning nearly centuries, including a world premiere, to ensure all audiences are entertained and uplifted.
The concert, which runs for almost 3 hours including interval, is a wonderful celebration of seasonal music and the occasional festive poem. Weymark gives the afternoon a warm inviting feel whilst also taking the opportunity to educate and enlighten the audience, from the composition of the orchestra l, to the history of the music shared. Greenland's musical theatre background is put to good use as she plays up to pieces like Jerry Herman's We Need A Little Christmas from MAME and D. Gamley's arrangement of The Twelve Days Of Christmas. Greenland has a wonderful clear expression and ringing pure tone making her a delight to listen to. Rhodes' fabulous rich operatic baritone is showcased in Bach's Weihnachts Oratorium Cantata and he adds his trademark steadfast gravitas to Rogers and Hammerstein's You'll Never Walk Alone. The tribute to the late Richard Gill and his passion for promoting music is delivered with a delightful rendition of Leonard Bernstein's Take Care Of This House from 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.
Weymark's choice of how the combined Chamber Singers and VOX choir ( the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs' young adult ensemble), the larger Symphony Chorus and the community Christmas Choir will be utilised is well balanced to create a variety of experiences. The sound ranges from delicate and haunting, particularly the accapella expression of Erick Esenvalds' arrangement of Amazing Grace, presented by the combined Chamber Choir and VOX, to the full swell of sound of the full combined choirs and orchestra for the Catalan Christmas carol Fum Fum Fum. Weymark also ensures that the audience has the opportunity to share in the joy of singing by including a number of arrangements requiring audience participation, from Silent Night to Joy To The World. The upbeat encore also saw many of the younger audience up and dancing in their seats proving it is always worth waiting to the very end.
As delightful as the traditional and well known songs were, the highlight of the concert would have to be Luke Byrne's new Australian Christmas song, Capricorn. Following Byrne's recent involvement as music director for Sydney Theatre Company's adaptation of Ruth Park's HARP IN THE SOUTH trilogy the composer has created a beautiful work that draws on Park's text along with Hans Christian Andersen's The Snowman and the more traditional Gloria. The work has a wonderful reflective nature with the first movement having a stillness as the story is told, building to a soundscape of a northern hemisphere winter snowstorm with the final gear shift to a more religious tone with the full choir.
Whilst Sydney Philharmonia Choirs' CAROLS AT THE HOUSE only runs for a short season, if you missed this year's concert, get in early and secure tickets to their 2019 season concerts to experience the glorious sound of the choirs supported by the full orchestra.