The NECOM Auditorium was again filled with the sound of young voices singing in harmony, punctuated by enthusiastic applause from the audience. From our youngest choristers right up to our most seasoned (read: Phil Oxley) singers, a wide range of songs from children’s classics to folk tunes to art music was presented. The Winter Choral Concert is one of the many highlights of the NECOM Performance Calendar every year. Minisingers, Cantilena, Cantilena Chorale, New England Singers and the New England Singers Chamber Choir all gave polished performances on the evening.
The MiniSingers (a choir for children aged from Kindergarten to Year 2) opened the concert with two exciting pieces, The Wind on the Hill accompanied by Nicole Mackson on piano and Sophia Mackson on viola, and Alfred the Alligator, a perennial favourite of our young choirs, conducted by Bekk Baumgartner and accompanied by Nicole Mackson. It was wonderful to see the young musicians listening to each other carefully as they were singing, showing that ensemble skills are developing early. It is also important to see these children learning to sing in parts.
The Minisingers were then joined by Cantilena, and under the direction of Connie Dunham and Bekk Baumgartner, they gave a great rendition of Deep and Dark.
Connie has had the pleasure of conducting the Cantilena Chorale (an auditioned ensemble of children aged between Year 4 and 6) in Cathy Welsford's absence. They performed Ave Maria by Caccini, arranged by Patrick Liebergen, and Hist Whist by Patrick Baker; both items were accompanied by Warwick Dunham on piano. A recording of Hist Whist can be viewed below. This item wowed the audience with its complicated rhythms and harmonies as well as the fun addition of body percussion.
Cantilena then took centre-stage, and under the direction of Leanne Roobol they presented excellent versions of Oh La Ley and Brolga Dance. The New England Singers then joined their younger counterparts on stage for a lively performance of I’m Goin' Up A Yonder, again conducted by Leanne.
It was great to watch student conductor Shah Biffin command the respect of the New England Chamber Choir, with Robyn Bradley accompanying. Shah, under the mentorship of Phil Oxley, has become a most competent young conductor, and the choir responded beautifully with moving performances of The Silver Swan and Sleep.
Leanne and Phil then rounded out the program, conducting the New England Singers with three very professional-sounding items - Billy Joel’s And So It Goes, Paul Jarman’s Shackleton, followed by the 80s pop hit Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). This choir, supported beautifully by Robyn Bradley on piano, has become one of the premier musical ensembles in New England, and the group didn’t disappoint. Look for upcoming recordings of Sweet Dreams to be showcased soon on our Facebook page.
A big thank you to all our teachers and accompanists who have worked so diligently with the many choirs. We are so lucky to be surrounded with such talented artists. Thanks also to the students for their commitment to fine music-making, and to all parents for their continued support of all that we do here at NECOM. We are now looking forward to the Christmas Concert at the end of the year!