The annual Christmas Choral Concert was full of Santa hats, antlers and Christmas bling (Leanne’s flashing earrings) and a timely visit from Santa, which was a fitting accompaniment to the wonderful repertoire presented by our talented choristers, their conductors and accompanists.
Our delightful Mini Singers started the concert with entertaining selections including Rubber Duckie and I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and then skilfully performed two carols that included two-part harmony singing supported by two conductors. Congratulations to the Mini Singers team, conductors Connie Dunham and Bekk Baumgartner, and accompanist, Nicole Mackson.
Under the leadership of Cathy Welsford, Cantilena Chorale performed a moving piece called Rocking the Whale. Accompanied by Warrick Dunham’s inspired improvisation throughout the a capella song, the Chorale created an atmosphere that brought the audience to the very scene of a stranded whale. Chorale also sang Happy Earth, a song by the folk group, TIDDAS. For such a small group, they beautifully and skilfully sang in ‘crystal clear’ three-part harmony.
The Cantilena choir followed with the traditional Scottish folk song, Bheir Mé Ó, displaying their beautiful unison tone and harmony. They completed their set with the carol, Do You Hear What I Hear?
This was the farewell performance for Cathy Welsford who will continue project work with the NECOM but is handing the reins of Cantilena over to Connie Dunham.
Shah Biffin, our student conductor for 2017, and Phil Oxley led the New England Chamber Choir in three varied Christmas themed pieces accompanied by Robyn Bradley. They performed Morning Song for the Christ Child by Peter Sculthorpe, a beautifully arranged version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and the very entertaining Swing a Christmas Carol.
Next came a very special performance by the New England Singers Christmas Camerata with The Little Drummer Boy. The group included a small number of New England Singers, the NECOM Staff String Quartet, drummer Blake Whitehill and guest singer, Edward Mafi from the Department of Education and Communities who just happened to be visiting. Well done team.
The full complement of the fabulous New England Singers with their Conductor Leanne Roobol and accompanist Robyn Bradley finally took to the stage to perform their Christmas offerings, Just One Star and Christmas Cards: Noisy Day. What a stunning way to end a showcase of choral diversity and excellence. The junior members of the NECOM choral program were able to see what they can aspire to when they listen to the accomplished and stunning performances of our senior choristers. Just beautiful!
But wait! There is more. Cantilena and the New England Singers, led by Phil Oxley, concluded the evening with two quintessential Australian Christmas Carols, The Silver Stars are in the Sky and Christmas Day.
Then … there was one final offering, the traditional Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was performed by the graduating Cantilena students and the Mini-Singers featuring those graduating to Cantilena next year. Just as they were finishing, Santa made a surprise visit distributing candy canes and causing a slight mayhem amongst some very tired little ones!
Thanks to the choral program staff, and all the NECOM staff, for another wonderful choral year. Our choir directors are already preparing for a busy 2018, that will include the Opera Australia performance, the Eisteddfod of course and New England Sings!.