Concert 7
Sunday 8 December, 5:00 pm

Good Shepherd Chapel
St Heliers St
Abbotsford VIC 3067


For tickets call Astra on (03) 9326 5424, or

Unsettled choir scores

A terrain of spoken and sung music 1930–2019

Ernst Toch, Ruth Crawford-Seeger, John J. Becker, Arnold Schoenberg,
Kenneth Gaburo, Pauline Oliveros,  Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Milton Babbitt,
Penelope Alexander, Eve Duncan, John Arthur Grant, Jena Capes, Callum Mintzis

Concert Head: 

The Astra Choir with soloists conducted by John McCaughey

Concert Support: 

From earliest times, choral music has spanned between projections of collective speech and pure vocal sonority. This concert brings together a wide landscape of short works from the adventurous tradition of American experimental composers that explored this space through the 20th century. They are joined by a varied group of new and recent works from contemporary Melbourne, extending from wordless humming and bird-song to poetry by Whitman, Judith Wright and David Malouf.

The concert initiates the Astra Choir’s third CD-production of first-recordings with the venerable New York label New World Records. From Ernst Toch’s recently rediscovered speech-choruses of 1930, which transferred choral phonetics into a pioneering form of electronic manipulation, the program extends to the visionary harmony of Charles Ives's friend and contemporary, John J. Becker. From the succeeding generation, the unknown early choral creations of Kenneth Gaburo mark the start of his path to "compositional linguistics", which placed him among the foremost explorers of electronic and vocal composition.

Four works are premiered in this concert from a wide generational span in Australian music. These include a remarkable first hearing of three madrigals from 1955 by the Australian-American Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Previously unknown and unperformed, the manuscript of these deft and original settings of early Wallace Stevens poems was found in the Mitchell Library in Sydney, and made available by Melbourne scholar Dr Suzanne Robinson, author of a new biographical study of the composer, from the University of Illinois Press.