TERRA AUSTRALIS – Land of the Imagination AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER CHOIR (ACC)

TERRA AUSTRALIS – Land of the Imagination AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER CHOIR (ACC)

Directed by Douglas Lawrence

 “Simply phenomenal” General Anzeiger Bonn

 The ACC invites listeners to explore a new concept in concert programming. Great works for choir are matched by year with voyages in search of Terra Australis, the fabled Great Southern Land, and later expeditions charting Australia and Antarctica.

 Directed by Douglas Lawrence, the Australian Chamber Choir is on its seventh concert tour of Europe, with stops including St Martin-in-the-Fields, the cathedrals of Bonn, Berlin and Ribe, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Hanover, Darmstadt, Piern, Tübingen, Stuttgart and Koksijde on the Flanders coast.

In this uniquely Australian program, music by European composers from 1504 to 1937 is complemented by contributions from Australian poets and composers. Our program begins and ends with the words of Indigenous poet, Bill Neidjie, set to music by Australian composer, Tom Henry. Bill Neidjie, elder of the Gagudju clan of North Western Australia –negotiator, peace-maker, last surviving speaker of the Gagudju language – was keen to ensure that the rich history of his people would not be forgotten. He broke taboos by publishing some of their traditional stories or Dreaming in two volumes of poetry. The poems speak of a land of the imagination, timeless place where the spiritual world meets the physical. Some would say that all art comes from such a place:

This earth I never damage.
I look after.
This ground and this earth,
like brother and mother.
Earth …

LONDON:  16  July at 7.30 pm:

St Martin in the Fields, Candlelight Series
Trafalgar Square, London, UK

“in music that seems to penetrate into visionary dreamscapes … the choir consistently impressed with their exploration of sonority and atmospheric depth” Echo Darmstadt

“Magnificent! Transporting!” Schwäbische Zeitung, Germany

“complete stylistic perfection” Dagbladet, Ringsted, Denmark
“flawless intonation, impeccable blend, marvellously pure intervals, seamless contrapuntal vocal movement and … careful emphasis on text delivered an exceptional concert” Sydney Morning Herald

BOOKING/INFO: www.AusChoir.org/terra-australis

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: David Hudson Tel: 020 7831 3282 (office hours)
Mobile: 07810 823720
Email: dhudson100@hotmail.com

 The Program in more detail

At each point on this voyage of musical discovery, we present a great choral work that is contemporary with a significant moment in the mapping of the Australian continent.

Flemish explorer Dirk den Hartog was the first European to land on Australia’s western coast in 1619.  In the same year, Flemish composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck wrote the buoyant eight-part Hodie Christus natus est for the Christmas season.

The remains of explorer, Matthew Flinders were discovered in January this year during an archeological dig under London’s Euston Station. Flinders died at the age of 40, the day after his book, A Voyage to Terra Australis was published in 1814. In the same year, Beethoven published his Abschiedsgesang (Farewell Song). With this song, the ACC remembers Matthew Flinders, farewelled in the same year at St James’ Church graveyard, now the site of Euston Station.

Prussian explorer Ludwig Leichhardt walked from Australia’s northernmost settlement at Darling Downs (Queensland) with a party of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men, covering 3,000 miles, to reach Australia’s northernmost tip at Port Essington (Northern Territory) fourteen months later.  In the same year, 1844, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy composed one of his heavenly part-songs: Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen über dir (For he commanded his angels to watch over thee). The text could have been written expressly for Ludwig Leichhardt. However, four years later, attempting to reach Australia’s west coast on foot, his party disappeared without trace.

French cartographer, Oronce Finé demonstrated uncanny prescience when in 1531, before any European had set foot in Australia, he published an atlas in which he described the Indigenous inhabitants of Terra Australis as follows: They “lead good honest lives and are not cannibals … they have no letters, nor do they have kings, but they venerate their elders and offer them obedience”. Around the same time, the Portuguese music theorist and composer, Vicente Lusitano wrote an astounding example of chromatic polyphony, entitled Heu Me Domine (Alas Lord). When this was published in Venice in 1561, Lusitano, who was of African heritage, became the first published black composer.

On 3 June 1769, Captain James Cook trialled new equipment, tracking the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti. Immediately afterwards, Cook broke the seal on an envelope bearing the inscription Secret Instructions to Captain Cook from the Lord High Admiral of Great Britain. In it he was instructed to search for Terra Australis. To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Cook’s opening of the secret instructions in 2019, the ACC has commissioned Australian poet Mark Tredinnik and Australian composer, Alan Holley to write a new work, forming the centrepiece of the Terra Australis program.

Also on the program are works by Josquin des Prez, JS Bach, Debussy and Messiaen, each paired with a voyage or expedition of discovery. With the enormous contribution of Indigenous people in Australia’s exploration largely overlooked until at least the middle of the twentieth century, the ACC in the extensive program notes provided (in hard copy and online), shines a spotlight on the important role of Indigenous people in journeys charting the Australian continent.

 PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

 MELBOURNE                  16   June at 3 pm: Our Lady of Mount Carmel
210 Richardson St, Middle Park, Vic

HAMBURG                      30   June at 10 am: St Michaelis
Englische Planke 1, Hamburg

RIBE                                    2   July at 11 am: Cathedral, Ribe Cathedral Summer Concerts
Torvet 15, 6760 Ribe, Denmark

COPENHAGEN                4   July at 4 pm: Trinitatis, Summer Concerts at Trinity Church
Pilestraede 67, 1150 Copenhagen, Denmark

BERLIN                               6   July at 6 pm: Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnisskirche, Berlin
Choral Vespers in the Kaiser Wilhalm Memorial Church
Breitscheidplatz, 10789, Berlin, Germany

BERLIN                               7   July at 10 am: Berlin Cathedral (service)
Am Lustgarten, Berlin Mitte, Germany

HANNOVER                      9   July at 6 pm: Christuskirche, Hannover
Conrad-Wilhelm-Hase-Platz 1, Hannover, Germany

BONN                               10   July: Remigiuskirche (Beethoven’s Church) Music in St. Remigius,
Brüdergasse 8, Bonn, Germany

KOKSIJDE                       12   July: Our Lady of the Dunes, Koksijde (guests stay in Bruges)
International Summer Organ Festival, Koksijde
Kerkplein 2, Koksijde, Belgium

PARIS                               14   July at 11.00 am: American Church, Paris. This is in lieu of the choir’s planned performance at the Cathedral of Notre Dame
65 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris

LONDON                         16   July at 7.30 pm: St Martin in the Fields, Candlelight Series
Trafalgar Square, London, UK https://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/whatson-event/terra-australis-land-of-the-imagination/

DARMSTADT                  17   July: Pauluskirche, International Summer Organ Festival
Paulusplatz, Niebergallweg, Darmstadt, Germany

PRIEN                               19   July at 6 pm: Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt
Marktplatz, Prien am Chiemsee, Germany

TÜBINGEN                      20   July at 7 pm: Freie Waldorfschule
Rotdomweg 30, Tübingen, Germany

STUTTGART                   21   July at 7.30 pm: Nikolauskirche, Stuttgart International Organ Festival   Werastrasse 120, Stuttgart, Germany

MACEDON                      10   August at 3 pm: Church of the Resurrection, Macedon
Corner of Mt Macedon Rd and Honour Avenue, Macedon, Australia

GEELONG                        11   August at 3 pm: Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, Geelong
136 Yarra St, Geelong, Australia

SYDNEY                           25   August at 3 pm: Great Hall, Sydney University
with Amy Johansen – organ. Presented in co-operation with the University of Sydney Organ Concert Series, Camperdown, NSW, 2006

BOOKING/INFO: www.AusChoir.org/terra-australis

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: David Hudson Tel: 020 7831 3282 (office hours)
Mobile: 07810 823720
Email: dhudson100@hotmail.com

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