At the Art Gallery of Ballarat last week The Song Company presented an extraordinary program which summarized the outstanding musicianship and the imagination that has always been a part of this superb ensemble.
Conductor Antony Pitts deserves much credit for the virtuoso singing and the dramatic presentation.
The program title "Nineteen to the Dozen" refers to the nineteen contemporary Australian composers (actually twenty, with one shared contribution) whose commissioned works were combined with works of major composers representing the twelfth to the twentieth centuries. The kaleidoscope of vocal and body percussion techniques employed, with all the new works being wordless, were performed with precision, commitment and occasionally humour.
The challenge of creating these new and very different sounds was confidently approached, giving each bracket a sense of shape and direction. Importantly, the new works sat appropriately between the music of Bach, Purcell, Stravinsky and the other composers from the past.
Throughout the concert the eight singers performed in a variety of groupings and as soloists. The mellow vocalise, with exotic harmonies, exhibited in works by Josephine Gibson and Lyle Chan contrasted with more extreme techniques from Colin Black, whose work included a game of Rock, Paper and Scissors. One of the more developed pieces was the dramatic work of Chris Williams. The standing ovation from the audience suggests the new was not such a shock.