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Friday , 7 June 2024

An Evening of Harmony and Hope with Excelsis

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Following their concert tour of the Philippines in January 2024, Excelsis kicked off their 2024 season with a splendid performance titled “An Evening with Excelsis”, on 11 May 2024.

The choir’s acclaimed conductor, Tom Buchanan OAM, has conceptualised a fresh repertoire, reflecting the choir’s Australian-Asian cultural connection and showcasing a diverse range of compositions from various Asian countries. From the ethereal beauty of Korean composer Hyun Chul Lee’s “San Yoo Hwa” (Mountain Flower) to the exploration of unconditional love in Singaporean composer Kenneth Tay’s “Agape”, each piece offers a unique expression of harmony and unity. The concert showcased a variety of music that ensured a memorable experience for those who attended.

  1. “Ukuthula” – This traditional South African song, arranged by Sue Cock, resonates with themes of peace and harmony, capturing the essence of African musical traditions.
  2. “San Yoo Hwa (Mountain Flower)” – Hyun Chul Lee’s composition from Korea evokes the beauty of nature with its delicate melodies and poetic imagery, transporting listeners to serene landscapes.
  3. “Agape, from The Four Loves” – Kenneth Tay’s piece from Singapore explores unconditional love, drawing from diverse cultural influences to create a poignant and uplifting musical experience.
  4. “Wade in the Water” – This traditional spiritual, arranged by Rollo Dilworth, carries echoes of the struggles and triumphs of the African-American experience, inviting listeners to find solace and hope in turbulent times.
  5. “Amami” – Composed by Wilfred Tanguid, Manuel Francisco SJ and Nonoy Diestro, this piece celebrates the beauty and spirit of the Philippines Ilocano Dialect, weaving together vibrant rhythms and lush harmonies of the Lord’s Prayer.
  6. “Waltzing Matilda” – Ruth McCall’s arrangement of the iconic Australian song, a classic Australian folk song with words by Banjo Paterson. It incorporates the well-known ‘Queensland tune’, a modern new tune and an ongoing chant on Bb of Aboriginal botanical words. The words of the chant relate to trees and plants found around the song’s central focus: the billabong. These tunes and chants weave together in a lively, rhythmic piece.
  7. “Paraiso – Better World” – Ryan Cayabyab’s composition, arranged by Annie Nepomuceno, offers a utopian world filled with hope and optimism, expressed through uplifting melodies and inspiring lyrics.
  8. “The Gift to Be Free” – This arrangement of a traditional Shaker tune by Rollo Dilworth celebrates the simplicity and liberation of living authentically, resonating with themes of freedom and self-expression.
  9. “My Lord, What a Mornin'” – Lee Gilliam’s arrangement, with additional adaptations by Tom Buchanan, infuses new energy into this timeless spiritual, expressing joy and gratitude for the blessings of each new day.
  10. “S’perti Rusa Rindu Sungai-Mu (As the Deer)” – Ken Steven’s arrangement of Martin Nystrom’s composition, originating from Indonesia, offers a heartfelt expression of longing for spiritual nourishment, drawing from the imagery of a deer thirsting for water.
  11. “Ubi Caritas” – Ko Matsushita’s Japanese composition embodies the spirit of unconditional love and compassion, inviting listeners into a transcendent musical journey of unity and harmony.
  12. “To––––, from Five English Poems” – Takatomi Nobunaga’s composition from Japan transforms the beauty of English poetry into a captivating musical experience, exploring themes of love, nature and human emotion.
  13. “The Irish Blessing” – Joyce Eilers Bacak’s piece offers a warm and heartfelt blessing, drawing from the rich musical traditions of Ireland to evoke feelings of peace and serenity.
  14. “Cantate Domino in B♭ – Psalm 96” – Ko Matsushita’s Japanese composition brings to life the triumphant praise of Psalm 96, inviting listeners to join in joyful celebration and worship through its jubilant melodies and harmonies.
  15. “Wana Baraka” – Shawn L. Kirchner’s arrangement of this Kenyan folk song captures the rhythmic vitality and communal spirit of African musical traditions, inviting listeners to experience the joy and energy of traditional African music.
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The concert also featured Melbourne-based tenor Jack Jordan, with the choir accompanied by Kerith Cummins. Their talents made the evening even more special.

Excelsis will perform a program of works by Asian composers at St Paul’s Cathedral on 31 August. The performance will be directed by famous choral conductor Jennifer Tham, known for her work with the Singapore Youth Choir. Excelsis is excited to celebrate diverse contemporary choral works from Asia.

Excelsis continues to impress audiences with their talent and passion, and the choir thanks their supporters for their ongoing support.

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