Church of All Nations
cnr. Palmerston & Drummond Streets
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+ Piano works of Palestinian composers
A simple alternation between full chorus and solo piano works makes up the final Astra concert of the 2017 season, on Sunday 3 December at the Church of All Nations, Carlton.
Two major choral creations of the years before World War I, by Max Reger and Arnold Schoenberg, challenged the boundaries of choral writing and expression, with settings of texts that likewise trace out situations in extremis – the desolation of Job, and the war-torn world forever surrounding the Christmas angelic refrain of peace. In each case, the music promises a more optmistic conclusion, in choral sound of virtuoso brilliance.
In the concert, these two works – Reger’s Mein Odem ist schwach (My breath is weak) and Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth) – are set into a broader landscape of more recent music from Australia, Romania and the Middle East.
Melbourne composer Andrián Pertout combines antique and modern dimensions in his setting of a famous ode on the soldier’s life by the Roman poet Horace. Originally commissioned for choir and string orchestra for the Victoria Chorale, as part of the centenary commemorations of World War I, the piece has been refashioned as 8-part a cappella chorus for the Astra Choir, and receives its premiere in the new version. Romanian composer Dan Dediu employs his characteristic harmonic drama in small-scale dimensions, for the well-known mediaeval Nativity text of mystery and amazement, “that animals should see the new-born Lord”.
The locations associated mythically with the Seasonal narrative – Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem – are also the concrete places of birth for Palestinian composers of the present day and recent past, whose solo piano works are heard in the concert. From BethlehemMounir Anastas, from Nazareth Habib Hassan Touma, from Jerusalem Patrick Lama, from Jaljulia Samir Odeh-Tamimi. A recent CD production in Germany has opened a little-known world of Palestinian art-music composers, many of whom have lived their lives in movement between different regions of East and West, with backgrounds both in traditional Arab musical culture as well as Western-oriented composition. Their literal terrain, so long awaiting peace and justice, contributes something new and unheard to the metaphorical landscape of this program.
Andrián Pertout, Angustam Amice (2014/2016), version for 8-part choir a cappella - 1st performance
Max Reger, Mein Odem ist schwach (My breath is weak) Op.110 No.1 (1911), 6-part choir
Dan Dediu, O magnum mysterium (2013), 6-part choir
Arnold Schoenberg, Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth) Op.13 (1907), 8-part choir
Patrick Lama, 8 Variations on a Palestinian Theme (1983)
Mounir Anastas, Small Etude for the Peace (2001)
Kim Bastin, Peter Dumsday and Joy Lee (solo piano)
The Astra Choir
conducted by John McCaughey