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Sydney Philharmonia Choirs VOX Will Perform AURORA in July

The performance is at Pier 2/3 in Sydney’s Walsh Bay Arts Precinct at 3pm on Sunday July 7.

By: Jun. 14, 2024
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Join Sydney Philharmonia Choirs at one of Sydney’s most inspirational harbourside venues, for a 70-minute performance by the singers of VOX, celebrating the power and mystery of nature.

Curated and conducted by Elizabeth Scott, this soulful program includes sonically rich, harmonically mesmerising choral works from acclaimed Northern Hemisphere composers Ēriks Ešenvalds, Arvo Pärt, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Eric Whitacre, alongside new and rarely performed compositions from Australians Nicholas Buc, Alice Chance, Luke Byrne and James Henry

Foregrounded in this transcendent music from around the globe is humanity’s awe at the natural world that surrounds us; in particular, at the beauty, power and mystery of natural phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australia.

Over the centuries diverse interpretations of the Northern Lights and other natural wonders have been passed down as legend, story, folk song, poem and superstition, representative of unique cultural histories, knowledge and beliefs.

In this exquisite afternoon concert, these ancient interpretations are brought to life in the works of eight contemporary choral composers, each informed by their own personal history and perspective.

From Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds Rivers of Light, based on an Inuit folk tale about the sudden flooding of lights in the night sky; to American Eric Whitacre’s career-making Cloudburst, inspired by his ‘breathtaking’ experience of a rare cloudburst over the desert; and Sydneysider Luke Byrne in Desert Sea, about the phenomenon of Australia’s desert lake, Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre.

 The program includes the premiere of two newly commissioned Australian compositions, including a follow up to James Henry’s acclaimed composition Murrgumurrgu, written in the style of traditional Aboriginal verses and performed in his cultural language of Yuwaalaraay; which was premiered by the Choirs in September 2023.

In his new work, Fire in the Night Sky, Henry once again revives ancient language through song, sharing stories passed down over centuries of his own ancient culture’s experience of the southern aurora. 

For his commission, Sydney’s Nicholas Buc, turned to a poem from his native Ukraine, brought to life as Starry Sky.

Alice Chance’s Aurora Eora was originally commissioned by Gondwana Choirs for a children’s choir. This version for an adult choir was commissioned by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs in 2016.  The title marries the two words ‘Aurora’, Latin for dawn, and ‘Eora’, the Gadigal word meaning ‘of this place’. Her work honours the cultural custodians of Sydney, who Chance describes as “the dawn of this place”.

At the heart of the concert sits two movements from Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Missa a cappella – a contemplative devotional work by a Finnish mystic.

Book now for this one-off harbourside performance at Pier 2/3 in Sydney’s Walsh Bay Arts Precinct commencing at 3pm Sunday July 7.

Plan to stay for a glass or two with the VOX singers at the Pier 2/3 bar to follow, watching as day turns to dusk, and the evening lights appear reflected on the harbour’s surface.

The following week Aurora will tour to the Blue Mountains, with a one-off performance at Blackheath Uniting Church, 3pm Sunday July 14.

Discover Sydney Philharmonia Choirs at


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