The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s concert Noël! Noël is one of my eagerly awaited yearly musical highlights. This year’s concert exceeded expectations.
The musicians and their musical instruments of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries together with members of the Brandenburg Choir and young New Zealand soprano, Madison Nonoa, combined to create a truly beautiful program at Melbourne’s Recital Centre.
Indeed there were so many highlights it’s hard to know where to begin! One of the joys of the concert was the combination of `old favourites’ such as O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald Angels Sing with lesser known pieces. One of the most beautiful of these pieces was the Spheres from Sunrise Mass, which was expertly performed by the choir. The choir showed its great versatility when later in the program it presented an upbeat version of the Luckiest, arranged by Ben Folds.
Several other well-known carols and Christmas songs were arranged in new ways. In God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, for example, it seemed as if the instruments were singing the words.
It’s easy to see why ABC artistic director and conductor Paul Dyer chose Nonoa as the concert’s soloist. Her performances of Ave Maria, Amazing Grace and Stille Nacht were outstanding and showed her many skills. These skills included performing the first verse of Silent Night in German, the second in Māori and the third in English. Nonoa has recently embarked on a solo international career outside New Zealand and Dyer is understandably predicting she has a great future ahead.
One of the delights of any Brandenburg concert is the enthusiasm of both Dyer and his performers. This was very evident again during this year’s concert and added to what was an absolutely joyful and entertaining musical experience.
Sydneysiders still have several opportunities to see the concert with performances scheduled at venues around Sydney. The concert is also being replayed on Foxtel Arts on Christmas Eve. Visit the website for more information and tickets.
*Photos: Steven Godbee.
Jenny Burns attended Noël! Noël! as a guest of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.