Traditional choral at centre of Organ Festival opening

THRILLING: Violinist Monica Curro and pianist Stefan Cassomenos at the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts. Picture: Michael Watson
THRILLING: Violinist Monica Curro and pianist Stefan Cassomenos at the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts. Picture: Michael Watson

The traditional choral concert opening the annual Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival is a much anticipated event, with the “Missa Criolla” at its centre this year.

Melbourne’s Gloriana Choir, conducted by Andrew Raiskums, delivered a sublime performance of carefully nuanced textures and sparkling energy. Tenor soloist Carlos E Barcenas was outstanding in projecting the irresistible passion and excitement of the Gloria and the depth in the concluding Agnus Dei.

Movements three and four from “Path of Miracles” gave the choir the opportunity to tackle complex vocal textures and rhythms.

The concert at Carngham blended a gentle pastoral selection of works, including Elgar’s “Salut d’Amour”, with dramatic organ pieces of Bach, Mozart and Widor.

Violinist Monica Curro and pianist Stefan Cassomenos, at the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts, drew on the Teutonic drama of Beethoven (Op.12/1 and Op.24 and Brahms (Op.100) sonatas in a thrilling performance featuring excellent ensemble work.

The early music group La Compania, with guest mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean, brought a delightful folk music contrast to the festival with their “Echoes of the Celts” program at the Mary’s Mount Centre.