Much choral food for thought as Paul Stanhope passes the baton.

Great Hall, Sydney University
March 29, 2015

There was a festive, yet valedictory feel in the air for this concert celebrating both Sydney Chamber Choir’s 40th birthday and conductor/composer Paul Stanhope’s final performance at the helm after a ten-year tenure. In the lead up to Easter, the well-chosen program was appropriately based around the themes of Christ’s passion and resurrection, and offered a collection of Renaissance motets complemented by contemporary works by a range of Australian and international creatives.

The young Latvian composer, Ēriks Ešenvalds, has built quite a following in the English speaking world thanks to a predilection for setting a language which, on pragmatic grounds alone has encouraged performances of his music in the West. His faith too has played a part, with his direct, accessible style touching the hearts of many Christians and ensuring his works have had outings in liturgical contexts as well as in the concert hall. His 2005 Passion and Resurrectionis a good case in point, having been taken up by a range of choirs and given a fine recording back in 2009 on Hyperion. However, this was its Australian premiere, for...