“Right from the start, it grabbed me in my chest and I was fighting to hold back the tears,” said an audience member from Newcastle upon hearing a massed choir sing Schubert’s Mass in G in Taree on Sunday, June 3.
The Music for a Winter Heart concert, held at St John’s Anglican Church, was a major event for the 2018 Manning Winter Festival and showcased local choirs and young musical talent of the Manning Valley.
Kantabile Chamber Choir, the Manning Valley Choral Society and the U3A Silver Tones came together in a massed choir of more than 70 voices to perform Schubert’s Mass in G accompanied by Sinfonia orchestra’s string section, with soloists Tony Pike, Laura Griffin and Ronan King-Rose thrilling the audience with their superb voices.
Listen to the first movement of the Schubert Mass in G – the Kyrie:
The church was packed to capacity at around 370 people, with some having to stand to view the concert. It was the largest audience St John’s has ever held.
“The concert was a resounding success,” said conductor and co-organiser, Heidi Lambert.
“People were surprised that the group was able to perform so well as a collective unit. It was a wonderful achievement for the Manning Winter Festival and the Manning Valley as a whole.”
It was an event that was a long time in the making.
“The whole thing was the brainchild of a group of four people - Deidre Sutherland, Pam Archer, myself and Elizabeth Berry,” Heidi said.
“It was 12 months in the planning to collaborate with three choirs and a string ensemble to perform music that is not routinely performed but is appealing to an audience and the choral singers.”
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Having three local choirs come together to perform the work was no mean feat, as many are not trained singers, and the work is in Latin. Heidi had to rewrite the soprano and tenor parts, as they were originally too high for most choir members singing those parts.
And it worked. The church was filled with sound, and the audience, who came from not just the Manning but from as far as the Central Coast and Port Macquarie, overwhelmingly “loved” it.
“It’s been asked if we can redo it,” Heidi said. “I got asked by about half a dozen people at the end of the concert could we redo it, people who are fairly heavily involved in the arts.”
Heidi, along with Deidre Sutherland, also organised the other acts in the concert, comprising young vocalists and instrumentalists who astounded the audience with their professionalism and talent.
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Manning Winter Festival president Mave Richardson AM commented on the fantastic acoustics of the church.
"It was lovely, the sound was wonderful,” Mave said.
"Bringing three choirs together, the sound was brilliant. Having the young soloists involved was wonderful as we wanted to put emphasis on youth this year.
“Hats off to Deirdre Sutherland, Heidi Lambert and Pam Archer.”
Mave was so impressed she is thinking they could look at something similar in the future.
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