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Oriana Chorale and Kompactus Youth Choir's Mirrors in Mirror deliver cheer for the soul


Mirrors in Mirror – Music for Maundy Thursday

The Oriana Chorale and Kompactus Youth Choir, with Barbara Jane Gilby,
Katherine Owen, Alys Rayner, James Larsen, Kyle Daniel and Calvin Bowman;
Conducted by Brett Wymark.

Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, Thursday, April 17, 7.30pm.

Reviewer: Jennifer Gall, Canberra Times, 22-04-2014


The power of the word and the many possibilities of harmony were the themes of the Oriana Chorale's Easter concert, which followed the structure of the Catholic mass.

What comfort this ritual provides with its message of transcendent hope in the face of death. Many Canberrans have lost their jobs in the name of achieving to ''strategic efficiencies'', but such efficiencies pay no heed to the economic and emotional cost to human lives.

Oriana's Mirrors in Mirror provided a different, preferable model of leadership, one that unites the disparate talents and experience of a large group of people of different ages to produce music that is greater than the sum of the individual voices.

Arvo Part's Summa, followed by Randall Thompson's Alleluia, with choristers cleverly placed throughout the church, enfolded the audience in soothing sound. Part's compositional style uses the building blocks of melodic movement - the scale and arpeggio in interlocking sequences to create expanding harmonies that have extraordinary healing powers for the listener. The melodic line seems to calmly step through time, collecting shattered debris to reconstruct meaning and sound into a new spacious form.

Bach's motet Der Geist Hilft BWV 226 contrasted with the opening pieces, depicting in its jangling counterpoint the confusion of souls in turmoil: ''We do not know what we should pray for, or how we ought to pray''.

The answer was voiced in the Gloria of Part's Berliner Messe, and his compositional skill conjured up the beating of mighty, enfolding angelic wings in the phrasing of Qui tollis peccata mundi.

The jewel in the concert was the youth ensemble, Kompactus' performance of Rene Clausen's lovely work, Set me as a Seal. The phrasing and entries were neat, and the enunciation was elegant. What a joy to hear this disciplined group of young musicians!

At the heart of the evening was the steadfast musicianship of the instrumental ensemble led by Barbara Jane Gilby. With Calvin Bowman, Gilby performed Spiegel im Spiegel, a work of such seeming simplicity that never fails to clear the mind and offer a new vision of life, and this was performed with perfect economy and focus.

Eric Whitacre's Lux Aurumque and Henryk Gorecki's Totus Tuus were favourite moments. I marvel at Whitacre's ability for vocal writing - the synchronised fading and emerging of sustained phrases. With closed eyes, the vision of Mary shimmered, in a heightened reality, brought to life in Gorecki's matchless gift for activating supernatural power within repeated chant.

This was indeed a concert to ease the soul.

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