Sunday 6 October 2013
The Berrima Singers
What a rich heritage of music is available to us, from centuries of development in many and varied places. The Southern Highlands is part of this heritage with many ways in which music is brought to us. This is very noticeable to me; I moved some two and an half years ago from the Upper Blue Mountains where I had lived for many years. Yet during those years I did not become aware of the range of music performances such as are presented to us here in the Southern Highlands. I am sure it is a function of the population being more concentrated here thus there is a mass, so to speak, of people of talent, of experience, of capability to perform along with those with the keen interest to organise various groups. Thus there seems to me to be a growing, lively concentration of musical capacity which enriches life here in the Highlands.
A significant part of this growing local tradition is The Berrima Singers which have been performing for some forty years, presently under the direction of Christine Tilley. The link is to the Singers’ website, which gives some information on its performances and mode of contact: <http://web.theberrimasingersinc.asn.au/> This is worth checking out because if you missed the performance on Sunday afternoon you just might be able to catch them performing elsewhere. And I can assure you that it will be worth your while to do so.
For we were presented on Sunday afternoon with a truly delightful performance under the direction of Christine Tilley. The Singers presented some classical devotional pieces, including Grieg and Palestrina, sung a capella and which resonated beautifully in St Jude’s. Catherine Waver, recorder, accompanied by Christine Tilley on a keyboard instrument, brought to us a Corelli sonata from the latter part of his life in the late 17th Century. The Singers followed with two further devotional works from Biebl and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Yvonne D’Arcy, who sings with the group and in some instances accompanies them on the piano, performed solo two works from Mendelssohn and Schumann.
The direction changed with the Singers presenting some more light hearted and contemporary works, two by the Australian composer Wendy Hiscocks (born in Wollongong which is, of course, a neighbour of the Southern Highlands); and a delightful rendition of an old favourite, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. Counter tenor Michael Spencer sang a Purcell work before presenting us with one of his own compositions, Agnus Dei, accompanied by Christine Tilley. The performance finished with what Christine Tilley called some fun: three pieces from different operas, Verdi’s “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”, Gounod’s “Soldiers Chorus” and Tchaikowsky’s “Ball Scene” from “Eugene Onegin”.
Altogether this was a delightful performance marked both by the lovely sound of the Singers and the informality attending the whole presentation. This was shown in the introductions to the various performers and works and the interchanges between the Singers and the audience. All in all it was a great performance.