Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, 2022 season announcement

Australia’s leading choral group is celebrating 2022 with a blockbuster season of Sydney concerts that showcase the virtuoso form for which they are known. It’s a year full of human stories; of faith, sadness, love, celebration and romance. From large concert hall presentations to the intimacy of St. Andrew’s Cathedral; At the heart of every Sydney Philharmonia performance is the enduring power of music and the human voice that transport and unite us.

Programmed by the longtime artistic and musical director Brett Weymark OAM, this varied season crosses choral classics by Mozart, Bach, Haydn and Handel; the splendid colors of Puccini; lively repertoire by PÄ“teris Vasks and Eric Whitacre; and six newly commissioned short works by local Sydney composers Jessica Wells, Aija Draguns, Tomas Parrish-Cheynoweth, Aiden Rosa, Maria Lopes and Stuart Greenbaum from Melbourne.

Highlights include a special guest appearance by Grammy-winning American composer and conductor Eric Whitacre, who will conduct the Sydney premiere of his acclaimed 2019 work The Sacred Veil. Created in collaboration with poet / lyricist Charles Anthony Silvestri, this irresistibly intimate composition tells the story of life, love and loss on a person’s inspiring journey.

As part of its own seasonal commitments, the Sydney Philharmonia is building on its longstanding collaboration, joining forces with long-term partners Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and forging new alliances around new initiatives.

Brett Weymark:

With great anticipation, we are finally releasing our 2022 season, after two years in which our singers rarely got together to make music to share with you. It’s a season looking to the future of our art form – with new Australian works, multiple premieres, and well-known treasures to be viewed with new eyes and ears, and pieces that restore our sense of community.

As the New Year begins, the Sydney Philharmonia’s VOX young adult choir is partnering with world-renowned Australian body theater group Gravity & Other Myths to present a groundbreaking production, The Pulse, at the Sydney Festival. This is VOX like you’ve never seen it before, trapped in a peppy, pulsating, gravity-defying ebb and flow of humanity: a mountain of 24 bodies set in an ocean of voices in an epic yet intricate symphony of strength , Tendons and haunting sound disintegrate song. Watch these notable artists rise to an original score by composer Ekrem Eli Phoenix. Don’t miss out at the Roslyn Packer Theater.

A second Sydney Philharmonia program for the Sydney Festival 2022 takes place amid the raw sandstone and towering pillars of The Cutaway at Barangaroo: a huge, natural, cathedral space with lush acoustics. As the day turns into twilight, a fascinating hour-long performance begins. Curated and conducted by Brett Weymark, Night of the Soul includes works by Arvo Pärt, Eric Whitacre, Ola Gjeilo and Samuel Barber, the book ends with some of the oldest pieces of music in Western culture, medieval Gregorian chants. Bring your pillow, yoga mat or blanket and get comfortable for a magical experience.

In March the choirs have their first appearance on the main stage of the year and present Mozart: Requiem & Revelations in the famous Sydney City Hall. Inspired by Romeo Castellucci’s revision of Mozart’s Requiem for the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 2019 and the Adelaide Festival 2020, this breathtaking one-off performance shows Mozart’s last masterpiece with excerpts from music he created during his lifetime. It is a “love letter” to one of the most acclaimed composers in the world that highlights and enhances the drama, agony and beauty of his transcendent music. A newly commissioned piece – Dolor ultimae melodiae (Mourning the Last Song) – by the Sydney composer Jessica Wells serves to pick up where Mozart left off with a contemporary voice.

The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Easter Saturday concerts have become a part of the city’s musical heartbeat. In 2022 the choirs will celebrate this occasion with a performance of Bach’s undisputed masterpiece, his monumentally profound Mass in B minor; a compositional legacy that has evolved over 16 years and encompasses the artist’s lifelong contribution to music. Under the direction of the newly appointed deputy music director Dr. Elizabeth Scott and performed by the choir’s acclaimed VOX and Kammersingers, accompanied by a baroque orchestra, this will be a virtuoso performance that embodies Bach’s highest musical art and spiritual inspiration, underscored by the majestic acoustics of Sydney City Hall – a truly beautiful place to be to experience baroque music.

An important program of festive music that is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face marks the choirs’ last concert of the year in Sydney Town Hall in May. Great, powerful and dramatic, jubilation: Handel & Haydn has the 400-strong Festival Choir pick up Handel’s four coronation hymns – originally commissioned for the coronation of King George II in 1727; Haydn’s triumphant Nelson Mass and the world premiere of three newly commissioned orchestral interludes by up-and-coming composers from Sydney – Aija Draguns, Tomas Parris-Chynoweth and Adian Charles Rosa. Under the direction of Brett Weymark and with the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra, this piece will raise the rafters.

As we step into the middle of winter and its contemplative mood, the Sydney Philharmonia presents an evening of inspiring music to provide refuge to our troubled world, Grant Us Peace: Music of Vasks. A prolific composer, inspired by his Latvian heritage and nature, Vasks’ critically acclaimed sacred music transcends darkness and tragedy, focuses on beauty and hope, and speaks to us in a language of supposed ease, stronger than words. Interwoven with the program, two newly commissioned works by Stuart Greenbaum of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and Maria Lopes of Sydney will make their debut. This breathtaking concert will be performed with the Sydney Philharmonia String Ensemble in the resonant acoustics of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

In September, the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs will celebrate their return to the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall with the highly anticipated Sydney premiere of The Sacred Veil, conducted by special guest composer Eric Whitacre. As a virtual rock star of contemporary choral music, Whitacre enchants audiences with its charisma and its luminous world of sound. His previous highly acclaimed Sydney concerts in 2013 sold out quickly, so book early for this one-off performance. The Sacred Veil was commissioned by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon – Artistic Director, Monash Academy of Performing Arts – MLIVE Melbourne and NTR ZaterdagMatinee for the Netherlands Radio Choir.

For opera lovers there is a treat in October with the presentation of Glorious Puccini: Messa di Gloria & Opera Highlights by the Sydney Philharmonia. The concert opens with one of Puccini’s earliest works, the seldom heard mass, Messa di Gloria – an exceptionally cheerful 40-minute high octane choral singing with lavish melodies and a dramatic infusion that hints at his great opera hits. After the break, the choirs return with the sensuality of Manon Lescaut, the great tragedy of Tosca, the heartbreaking pathos of Madama Butterfly and the mystery of Turandot. This exuberant concert, conducted by Brett Weymark, features special guest soloists Cheryl Barker, Peter Coleman-Wright and more with the full power of the Sydney Youth Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall

At the end of the year, the Sydney Philharmonia is reviving a popular and enduring Sydney Christmas tradition, bringing four of their choirs together for Handel: Messiah. The world may have entered a “new normal”, but the tradition of the Messiah holds fast and is a beacon on the concert calendar – an event to look forward to. The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs have performed it every two years for nearly a hundred years, drawing thousands of viewers each season. Join them at the Sydney Opera House and experience the uplifting energy and inspiration of this centuries-old masterpiece, with its rousing choirs, sublime solos and dramatic expressions of faith. Conducted by Brett Weymark and accompanied by the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra. Hallelujah!

Throughout 2022, each concert by the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs will feature a live performance by Deborah Cheetham and Matthew Doyles Tarimi Nulay – Long time living here, a musical recognition from the country commissioned by the choirs as part of their 2020 anniversary celebrations opened the local Gadigal language. Sometimes a cappella, sometimes with a full orchestra, Tarimi Nulay – living here for a long time is an impressive audience experience that is constantly evolving.

In addition to their own concert season, the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs have performed regularly with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) since 1941. In 2022, the organizations will continue their long-term collaboration: the Sydney Philharmonia will prepare the best-trained choir singers from among its ranks for four SSO concerts: Mahler 2; A German Requiem; Beethoven’s Fidelio; and Holsts The Planets & Britten.

A new initiative, Big Heart Sing, developed in collaboration with the Sydney Opera House (SOH) and presented as part of the SOH program, will start in January 2022. plus) and skills, Big Heart Sing is a happy celebration of the simple power of singing together and an invitation to battle your way through a diverse repertoire – from opera classics to Beethoven and the Beatles, with the expert help of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs team.

In September 2022 the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs will travel to New Zealand via “The Ditch” to perform Giuseppe Verdi: Messa da Requiem with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Benjamin Northey.

Founded in 1920 and now in its 102nd year, the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs are a testament to collaboration, community and solidarity.

In addition to the auditioned choirs, the Sydney Philharmonia offers the audience the opportunity to meet other like-minded people from the greater Sydney area and sing as part of their festival chorus. Everyone is welcome to the Festival Chorus Open House on Sunday January 31st in Walsh Bay.

For further information, click here

Photo credit: Keith Saunders

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