The Song Company's performance in the Art Gallery of Ballarat last Monday evening went straight to the heart of the relationship of music and humanity. The programme "Cries of Justice", a collection of fifteen psalms, drew on powerful personal expressions of the myriad of feelings available to all people. Importantly, the precise realisation by the singers of the intentions of the various composers in shaping the text, phrasing and harmonies perfectly delivered the aesthetic intentions alongside the narrative.
Commencing with Psalm 120 (attributed to King David), sung offstage in Hebrew by a solo soprano, the bulk of the psalms were from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Josquin des Prez, Johannes Ockeghem, William Byrd and Nicholas Gombert are names indelibly linked to sacred vocal music. The exquisite writing was matched by the virtuosic singing, with a fine balance between parts and a commitment to the text .
The ensemble numbers varied through the programme, with just four parts in Psalm 70 of Benjamin Britten, the most recent composer represented. Psalm 93, music by nineteenth century German composer Felix Draeseke, had operatic characteristics, with dramatic textures and solo parts. The work of artistic director/conductor Antony Pitts displayed positive results at every level.