Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Palm Sunday concert in Darwin

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. Next Sunday is Easter Sunday. The choir I sing with, the Darwin Chorale, likes to perform something big every Easter but have found that Palm Sunday is the better date for this. Many people go away for Easter as we have four delicious days off work. Easter events here can be poorly attended.

A section of the audience as Ambrose sang one of his solo pieces. To the right of the harp
are the piano, keyboard, and organ. The pews are all turned around away from the altar.
This year we did the Jerusalem Passion by Murray Wylie and we had a big enthusiastic crowd. This is a really enjoyable work to sing. The music is modern, although not pop music. The rhythms and melodies reminded me of Irish ballads. The words are all in English. It's long - think of 29 separate songs or pieces. Some are sung, some are instrumentals.

The local newspapers gave us great free advertising. They are so supportive of community events.

Who wrote this? Murray Wylie is a music teacher who lives in Brisbane. He wrote some pieces, then a few more, and constructed this lovely celebration of the Christian Easter. So many of the traditional European oratorios about Easter are sombre, serious, dramatic, and heavy; but not this. The usual pattern is to follow a gospel about Holy Week, impress upon the audience the weight of the sins of the world, and then have a short rejoicing. Murray Wylie took a more modern approach. Vocal soloists, tenor, baritone, and contralto, tell the story from Christ's point of view. The choral pieces are full of alto and male parts and sopranos add a touch of colour. These are all parts that a community can sing, rather than trained opera singers. We substituted duets for a couple of solos as the vocalists needed some support there. We had a small orchestra with a piano, organ, keyboard, harp, a few brass instruments, flutes, and strings. And a narrator who read from a script. All locals.

Our concert was held in Christchurch cathedral in Darwin and we had an audience of about a thousand. The local churches are our main supporters for such an event.
Are the members of the Darwin Chorale all Christians? No. Am I? No. You do not have to be in love to sing a love song to an audience. You do not have to be Christian to sing a Christian song either. There is a huge volume of beautiful European music that was written for churches, and it is well constructed.

All the Jerusalem Passion music is available free to download from this website.   http://www.jerusalempassion.com/resources-music.aspx
If your group wishes to perform this oratorio, and you do not have to do all of it, then simply contact the composer. He will usually give the go-ahead. You do not need all the instruments we used nor a huge choir. 

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