I’m sitting in a well-known-yet-as-usual-slightly-disappointing coffee chain in Boston, reminiscing about the wonderful week I spent with my Tenebrae friends last month. It’s been three years since I left Europe and headed down-under to take up the post of Director of Music at Trinity College, Melbourne, and it was a real treat to be invited to rejoin the ranks of Tenebrae for their recent visit to my new home town.
The group is in as good form as it has ever been, and given how little singing I’ve done at this level since leaving the UK, I arrived at the first rehearsal with not a small amount of trepidation! Although you now find me in the middle of a three week US tour with Trinity (we travel abroad every other year), my musical life of late is focussed around the college chapel, where we sing around 55 services a year plus the usual round of concerts and recordings. In general, I’m very much enjoying the change from 80 or 90 flights a year and who knows how many hotel bedrooms, to a life where I can walk to work and sleep at home every night. That said, singing with Tenebrae again reminded me just how lucky those of us who work in that world are.
We kicked off the tour in the beautiful acoustic of the Melbourne Recital Centre, where a receptive audience greeted us warmly despite the thundering rain outside. It really is true that you can see all four seasons in one day in Melbourne, and we certainly did that day, golf ball sized hail and all! Next, onto Sydney and the first of our concerts for the Sydney Festival. This performance was recorded and you can catch up on ABC Classic this Sunday afternoon here. And then onto our final day and final concert in Sydney of ‘Music of the Spheres’ – a collection of partsongs from the British Isles.
Australia and New Zealand are full of great singers and some really fine choirs, but the simple fact of geography, namely, that there are only a small handful of venues with an easy flight, makes a career of full-time choral singing impracticality challenging. With all that in mind, this part of the world is as fruitful and thirsty a destination for high-quality choral music and artistic collaboration as there ever has been. I can’t wait until the group visits again!