Surrounded by the ascending basalt columns, gleaming mosaics and marble of architect William Wardell’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, a choir of angels will usher souls to the door of paradise and hark back to the funeral service of Princess Diana in a glorious program of French composer Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and other works.
Under the baton of celebrated Chorus Master Warren Trevelyan-Jones, the 120-voice MSO Chorus will take centre stage for an inspiring and uplifting program of choral music. The performance at St Patrick’s Cathedral will feature baritone Stephen Marsh, a special guest soprano and a small group of chamber musicians from the MSO.
Among Melbourne’s great cultural assets, the MSO Chorus has been the voice of the Orchestra’s choral repertoire for more than 50 years, starting life as Melbourne Chorale in 1965 and formally joining the MSO family in 2008. Along the way, the professional standard ensemble of volunteer choral singers has built an international reputation as one of Australia’s premier symphony choruses.
Chorus Master Warren Trevelyan-Jones has guided the MSO Chorus since his appointment in 2017. He has had an extensive singing career as a soloist and ensemble singer in Europe, including nine years in the Choir of Westminster Abbey, and has appeared on more than 60 CD recordings, numerous television, and radio broadcasts, and in many of the world’s leading music festivals and concert halls. Trevelyan-Jones is also Head of Music at St James’, King Street, Sydney, where he has built a high-profile international reputation for The Choir of St James’.
Trevelyan-Jones said he was looking forward to leading the MSO Chorus in the St Patrick’s Cathedral concert.
“The MSO Chorus members are a diverse group of incredibly talented and passionate singers who show enormous flexibility and commitment to their craft. Along with baritone Stephen Marsh and a special guest soprano, the MSO Chorus will perform an uplifting program of choral works that is guaranteed to raise the ceiling of the cathedral and warm the hearts of the audience in this truly spiritual place,” he said.
The program features Fauré’s uplifting Requiem, Op.48, which focuses on the restful and fear-free nature of death, ending with In Paradisum in which the soul is ushered to the door of paradise by choirs of angels.
The MSO Chorus will also perform three a capella works of beautiful sonority that highlight the wide expanses of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. John Tavener’s Song for Athene (also known as Alleluia. May Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest) was originally composed as a tribute for a family friend killed in a cycling accident but received new prominence after its performance at the funeral service of Princess Diana.
Two related works complete the program – a choral setting of Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations – ‘an utterly sublime moment of music’ (Classic FM) – and a work by Australian composer Brooke Shelley that was inspired by the famed variations.
In Australia, the MSO Chorus performs each year as part of the official ANZAC Day commemorative ceremonies at the Shrine of Remembrance and have appeared at Melbourne International Arts Festival, AFL Grand Final, Sydney Olympic Arts Festival and in collaborations with the Australian Ballet, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra and with international superstar Barbra Streisand, during her 2000 Timeless Australian tour. Their recordings for Chandos and ABC Classics have also received critical acclaim.
Internationally the MSO Chorus has performed at the Cultural Inglese Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, as well as building an impressive repertoire of new Australian and international choral work and celebrated commissions from Sydney and London to Sweden and the Netherlands.