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Sublime choral music at St Mary’s Cathedral

Thursday, 18 March 2021

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After last year’s COVID-cancelled performance, WAAPA is delighted to welcome music lovers back to its annual choral concert at St Mary’s Cathedral performed by Perth’s finest young singers and musicians.

To the Hands: Buxtehude, Bach & Shaw, on Thursday 25 March at 7.30pm, features the WAAPA Chorale and Classical Voice students accompanied by the String Camerata with violinist Paul Wright and organist Stewart Smith as soloists.

The program of old and new choral masterpieces includes Sergei Rachmaninoff’s powerful Bogoroditse Devo, Knut Nystedt’s mesmerizing Immortal Bach, Dieterich Buxtehude’s moving Ad manus, and Caroline Shaw’s modern reworking of this piece, To the Hands.

“The outstanding acoustics of St Mary’s Cathedral make it the perfect venue for a concert of choral classics, as it allows the sound to resonate fully,” says music director Kristin Bowtell. “Our students love performing here, and our audiences will feel completely surrounded by the music.”

Written in the Russian Orthodox choral style, Bogoroditse Devo is a dramatic work that showcases Rachmaninov’s signature emotion and compositional inventiveness. It features one of the great climaxes in choral music, as the parts build to an ecstatic outpouring.

Immortal Bach is a modern reworking of J.S. Bach's 1736 chorale Komm, süsser Tod (Come, sweet Death), in which Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt elevates Bach’s simple chorale into a work of profound beauty.

Ad manus is part of Dieterich Buxtehude’s sublimely tender 1680 meditation on the crucified Christ,Membra Jesu Nostri (The Limbs of our Jesus). Each of the seven cantatas in this remarkable cycle address a different part of Christ’s crucified body.

This is juxtaposed by Caroline Shaw’s To the Hands, a 2016 reworking of Buxtehude’s piece. The American violinist, singer and composer, who at 30 became the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, has created a piece described as “a musical balm for suffering”.

Rounding out the program are two instrumental works that celebrate the magnificent music of J.S. Bach. Accompanied by the String Camerata, WAAPA’s Head of Strings Paul Wright will perform a selection of excerpts from the E Major Violin Concerto, while Senior Lecturer Stewart Smith will light up the St Mary’s Cathedral organ in Passacaglia in C minor.

WAAPA’s choral concert of divine praise, full of beauty and solace, will inspire and uplift in equal measure.

For all venue and performance details, please visit the To the Hands performance web page.

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