Last Sunday afternoon, ten members of MW Choir joined the Sydney University Graduate Choir in Sydney Town Hall to sing Verdi’s Requiem, a dramatic work inspired by the death of Verdi’s great friend, the author Manzoni. Julie Drury and I happened to meet up in the audience and thoroughly enjoyed an excellent performance. As we reflected later in the week, it was not a performance where you come out on a euphoric high, but one where, as you reflected on it later, you realised just how good it had been. Julie commented that going into the shops after hearing such a beautiful and profoundly moving work, seemed utterly banal.
As listeners, we were struck not just by the imposing Dies Irae and other loud sections, but more particularly by the control and clarity of the very quiet choral singing at the start and end of the piece. We also felt that the soloists, who play a major part in the central sections, were well matched, and liked the way in which the soprano used just sufficient body movement and facial expression to colour the mood of the words.
I wondered whether the MWC choristers might like to record their own feelings about the experience as the basis for this week’s blog, and contacted them by email, expecting perhaps two or three replies. There were eight. (That’s a second 80% turn-out this week.) Some were powerfully succinct, others were more expansive, but all are really interesting. It was clear that it had been a truly memorable experience.
Common themes were the thrill of singing in the Town Hall; the sheer joy of being enveloped in a great drama of joy, sorrow, anger and pleadings; sharing the experience with friends and colleagues from MWC and the wider choir; the eager anticipation at the start of each day and the sense of exhaustion at the end; appreciation of the privilege of singing a great work with a group of dedicated and committed musicians.
It is impossible to distil all the thoughts into a few paragraphs in the blog. So, if you have a few moments to spare, click here to read everyone’s comments. It’s well worthwhile. They make for fascinating reading.