Radical 20th-century French composer Olivier Messiaen’s obsession with the transformative qualities of music and its power to connect the human soul with distant mysteries of the universe is channelled into his epic song cycle, Harawi. Featuring Principal Artist, soprano Amy Moore, accompanied by Artistic Director, Antony Pitts, the music and the love poetry were written while Messiaen’s wife Claire Delbos was suffering from serious mental illness. Harawi is infused with a fantastical mix of Peruvian ritual, the grandest and catchiest of post-Wagnerian melodies, and a calm, deep faith in the Eternal.
One of the earliest-named composers in Western musical history and outspoken in her dealings with princes and popes in mediaeval Europe, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen created the earliest-known opera or music drama, Ordo Virtutum, for the female inmates of her Abbey at Rupertsberg. The Song Company presents a semi-staged performance – directed by Leonie Cambage – of Hildegard’s story of the internal struggle of a Soul battling for her mental well-being with seventeen Virtues on one side and the Devil on the other...
Whilst the lockdown is affecting our large-scale performances, there has been some movement in some of our smaller projects. Recently Francis Greep, Ethan Taylor, and Hayden Barrington recorded and filmed Book of Travelers as part of Judith Neilson's Behind Doors series at Phoenix Central Park. Meanwhile, Principal Artist Amy Moore and Artistic Director Antony Pitts have be working their way through Olivier Messiaen's epic song cycle, Harawi, which we intend to present later in the year in Close-Up: Chant d'amour et de mort. Get to know this rarely-performed masterpiece through the first of Amy and Antony's rehearsal videos, part of the song Doundou Tchil.
We are also excited to share again this video interpretation of If I Sing by David Lang, with audio taken from one of four performances The Song Company gave at this year's Adelaide Festival – ★★★★★ "The Song Company proves adept across styles in this spiritually uplifting concert" (Limelight Magazine). If I Sing is a timely reminder of just how important and uplifting music is to all of us and that without our wonderful singers, The Song Company doesn’t exist. When you support The Song Company this financial year, you are not only helping the creation of exciting new works, you are help keeping our Artists working and The Song Company singing.
Make a tax-deductible gift today
Thank you to our new and returning donors who have given so generously already this year.
This week Ensemble Artists Janine Harris, Ethan Taylor and Hayden Barrington are working the phones, calling all of our 2020 ticket buyers with updates on our performance season and your ticket options.
On advice from Government and venues, The Song Company has decided to cancel or postpone all performances until 6 September 2020. This affects ticket buyers to:
Book of Travelers
Burden of Truth
Dances of Passion
Bach to the Future
Arms of Love
There are three options for ticketholders:
Although it's disappointing to see our calendar of schedule performances pass by, The Song Company is working hard behind the scenes to make sure we are prepared for the end of the lockdown and ready to be back on stage, whenever that may be. We are currently finalizing our revised 2020 performance calendar based on advice from Government and venues and will be in touch with each ticketholder by telephone in the next two weeks to process refunds and converting tickets to credit or donations.
Meanwhile, there is still plenty of news to catch up on in our newsletter...
Our reimagined Burden of Truth performance project comprises our new 32-voice arrangement of Gavin Bryars's iconic minimalist epic, Jesus' blood never failed me yet, and Antony Pitts's new 25-voice reworking of the extraordinary 13-part canon in the Eton Choirbook, Jesus autem transiens. Watch an introductory video that unveils the sound world of both pieces and the techniques behind creating a single coherent recording from 32 individual tracks.
Support from donors has enabled The Song Company to expand the project to include 34 professional singers – featuring all of our Principal, Associate, Ensemble, most recent Emeriti Artists, and one or two special Guests:
Anna Sandström | Amy Moore | Roberta Diamond | Chloe Lankshear | Bonnie de la Hunty | Susannah Lawergren | Anna Fraser | Josie Ryan | Max Riebl | Oscar Smith | Pip Dracakis | Steph Dillon | Janine Harris | Jessica O’Donoghue | Hannah Fraser | Alexandria Siegers | Carmel de Jager | Dan Walker | Owen Elsley | Koen van Stade | Robert Macfarlane | Richard Butler | Ethan Taylor | Elias Wilson | Christopher Watson | Nathan Lay | Edward Elias | David Hidden | Mark Donnelly | Andrew O’Connor | Thomas Flint | Lucien Fischer | Hayden Barrington | Lincoln Law | Antony Pitts
With collaborating vocal ensembles from around Australia including the University Of Western Australia Conservatorium Of Music and The Oriana Chorale, Canberra.
In place of the concerts in our Burden of Truth tour, which should have been happening right now – in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney – we are busy recording the two major world première pieces with an expanded team of our Artists from across the country, including all our Principal and Ensemble Artists, and regulars from the past!
Gavin Bryars's iconic minimalist epic, Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, has touched hearts since its composition back in 1971 with its moving repetitions of a hymn fragment sung by a homeless man. Now, almost half a century later, Gavin has created a new, entirely choral version of the work, which The Song Company is proud to present with our collaborating partners.
As a companion piece, Antony Pitts has gone back to the extraordinary 13-part canon in the Eton Choirbook, Jesus autem transiens, and recomposed it for 25 parts with a nod in homage to the Bryars.
Both works enthrall with their vast, overlapping textures, and their canonic repetitions provide a solidity to counter the transience of our times.
Stay tuned for more information about the release of these two 25-minute premières as we’ll be giving our ticket-holders, regular audience members and supporters an exclusive preview!
We are sending out a more detailed EDM to our supporters tomorrow (https://the.song.company/newsletter), but here is an interview given to Limelight Magazine by our Artistic Director, along with the leaders of Ensemble Offspring, Pinchgut Opera, Gondwana Choirs, and ATYP: click here to read
UPDATE (04/04/2020) – in response to Australia Council's multi-year funding announcement:
The Song Company, as Australia's only national professional vocal ensemble, relies partly but very significantly on government funding to fulfil our mission to create, educate, and collaborate: music-making at a world-class level and immersive mentoring of the next generation of Australian singers. For us this comes on the back of performing alongside The Tallis Scholars at this year's Adelaide Festival with an ensemble drawn from across Australia – something that is simply not possible without major financial input. Losing out on multi-year funding from the Australia Council, and now facing the challenge of the lockdown, means rethinking how we operate and discovering who is prepared to support The Song Company and other small arts organizations in what will be a very changed landscape for all our artists. We're grateful, of course, for the 2021 transition amount from the Australia Council, and even more so that so many of our donors have already pledged their ongoing backing for what we do.
Antony Pitts, Artistic Director
Francis Greep, Associate Artistic Director
Michael Tidball, Chair
With great regret but following the advice of the Federal Government and the vast majority of the Arts community, we have postponed all performances scheduled up until the middle of May until later this year. This includes Burden of Truth (up to and including 9 May), Dances of Passion (up to and including 7 May), Dichterliebe Reimagined, and as previously announced, Book of Travelers. Existing ticket-holders will be contacted. Your support in this difficult and uncertain time is appreciated more than ever.
The Song Company is in the same deeply challenging position as arts organisations throughout the country and abroad. This is an existential crisis for the Arts in Australia and will require extraordinary help for many many organisations to survive and for artists to be able to pay for essentials over the coming weeks and months. If you can, please keep supporting The Song Company during what is an incredibly challenging period for many sectors of our society. To make a donation to The Song Company, click here.
More news, as we have it, will be posted here and on our Facebook page.
UPDATE (16/03/2020): The upcoming March and April SongCo CLOSE-UP performances of Book of Travelers, featuring Ethan Taylor, Hayden Barrington, and Francis Greep, have been postponed due to Covid-19 community health concerns. Following the advice of the Federal Government and the concerns of the venues, with a view to social distancing and protecting our more vulnerable ticket holders, we have postponed the scheduled performances until later this year. Existing ticket-holders will be contacted.