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the sydney consort

Concert Series 2015

Irish Baroque

" We have got an Irish harper in the house, who plays a great variety of tunes very well; he plays to us at our meals, and to me whilst I am drawing..."(Letters from Georgian Ireland: The correspondence of Mary Delany 1731–1768)

In the beginning of the 17th century, Dublin was a relatively small town, but at the end of the century it had become one of the most populous city in the English speaking world. The music flourished in the two Cathedrals, which both provided employment for musicians, organists, singers and naturally for choirs. Native Irish composers like David Murphy, Turlough O’Carolan, Thomas Roseingrave among other lesser known musicians produced some exquisite tunes full of characteristic Irish jig rhythm and melancholic melodies.

Dublin attracted artists not only from England with composers such as John Farmer or Thomas Bateson, but as well from other parts of Europe. One of the most well known was the prolific Italian composer Francesco Geminiani who lived in the most then fashionable part of Dublin, close to the hall where Handel produced his Messiah. Giving violin-harpsichord recitals, the composer devoted the greater part of his time to teaching the sons and daughters of the Dublin gentry.

The sound in Irish music is associated with particular instrumentation. The harping tradition was a very important element in the social and musical fabric of the country, both urban and rural. Fiddles and flutes are the most prominent instruments in the traditional Irish folk music.

Get ready for a showcase of classical and unknown tunes from Ireland.The famous Concerto by Turlough O’Carolan, works by Thomas Roseingrave and other rarely performed composers of the 18th century for flute, violins, harp and harpsichord from the Emerald Isle. The rhythm of Irish jig, charismatic harmony & celtic harp are superb and joy will be found by both Irish traditional & classical music fans of open minds.

Stabat Mater

"That Maltese ‘art’ music was mostly moulded upon Italian models is a historical fact that needs no amplification. That the Maltese musical heritage is dominated by sacred, mainly liturgical, compositions is now another established fact."
(Joseph Vella Bondin, leading Maltese musicologist, an edition of Girolamo Abos’s Stabat Mater)

Traditionally the Sydney Consort invites all for the somber and reflective Stabat Mater concert on Good Friday. For the first time in Australia, the ensemble will present a religious work for voices and strings by Maltese composer Girolamo Abos. His powerful and moving composition paints a picture of the Roman Catholic Holy Week liturgy in the composer's time. There is a fair measure of pathos and lamentation, passion and vigour in equal measure from all the sensitive three singers.

Apart from its traditional plainsong, the Stabat Mater has had many composed settings and was a favorite text of the Neapolitan composers. Although a Maltese, Girolamo Abos can be considered one of these on stylistic grounds, and his fixture is within the tradition of contemporary Neapolitan settings meant for the Roman Catholic Holy week liturgy. The somber scoring for voices and strings only with organ continuo is memorable for its melodic elegance, harmonic purity, and inventive design. Special features include its geometric construction and the ostinato use of contiguous forte and piano dynamics to create a dark and light effect so loved by the composer. One of his most representative masterpieces, the work was very popular and very much admired for many decades, and its seven known extant manuscript copies serve as evidence of this. After quite some time, the Stabat Mater fell into almost complete oblivion, but it is a work that cries for international rediscovery and recognition.

Girolamo Abos, last name also given Avos ord’Avossa and baptized Geronimo Abos was a Maltese–Italian composer of both operas and church music. Born in Valletta, Malta, son of Gian Tommaso Abos, whose father was a Frenchman from Castellane and Rosa Farrugia. Abos studied under Leonardo Leo and Francesco Durantein Naples. In 1756, he became Maestro al Cembalo at the Italian Theatre in London. In 1758 he returned to Italy as a teacher at the Conservatorio della Pietâ de’ Turchini in Naples, where Giovanni Paisiello was one of his pupils. He wrote 14 operas for the opera houses in Naples, Rome, and London, of which Tito Manlio was the most successful. After 1758 he composed a good deal of church music, including seven masses and several litanies. Girolamo Abos died in Naples.

Love Actually

"Sure there is music even in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument. For there is a music wherever there is a harmony, order, or proportion; and thus far we may maintain the music of the spheres."
Sir Thomas Browne (17th century)

Never say that the baroque era produced no surprises; the inventiveness of its composers and the sheer volume and variety of composition is extraordinary, as this programme will demonstrate. Subject of ‘Love’ in music was explored in many music compositions throughout the centuries. Through careful selection of the most interesting works by d'amore composers, this program offers a fresh and mesmerising perspective of their compositions.

The Sydney Consort presents the most interesting works for oboe d’amore & viola d’amore in association with recorder and harpsichord in "full of love" music from the 18th century. The mix of baroque compositions from different European countries will display their elegancy and ‘loving’ harmony in their chamber display.

A programme of music focused on the exploration of some of the most dramatic and passionate repertoire for d’amore instruments and ‘Love’ element in music. These once forgotten or neglected works are having now their ultimate resurrection, full of colour, simmering tension and silvery sound.

The Organ Recital

"This Light inspires, and plays upon The nose of Saint like Bag-pipe drone, And speaks through hollow empty Soul, As through a Trunk, or whisp’ring hole, Such language as no mortal Ear But spiritual Eve–droppers can hear."Samuel Butler (19th century)

We welcome you to the second concert of the new series – The Organ Recital. This fundraising event for the restoration of the heritage William Hill 1886 pipe organ at St Augustine’s will feature an international guest organist - Krzysztof Czerwinski from Poland.

The Viol Serenity

"...hunt one another gently, and in a manner imitate humane passions."
Francis North (17th century)

Music was an important part of any aristocratic household in the 17th and 18th centuries, where the viola da gamba reigned supreme as a marker of fine musical sensibilities. In this program, the Sydney Consort will host two viol da gambas, the tenor viol as well as the viola d’amore, theory and harpsichord and explore the rich repertoire that those instruments have to offer.The music for viols is equally beautiful as the instruments featured in Vermeer’s musically themed paintings. Although not all of the instruments of tonight’s program are portrayed by the painter, they themselves will speak up in this concert and create an enthralling experience! The audience will hear the sensitive viola da gamba, the mellow tenor viol and the sweet sounding viola d’amore, all these instruments created unequal qualities in sound – haunting and serene! The theorbo and harpsichord were instruments in very close relationship, musically completing the harmony whilst sharing this amazing experience!

Christmas Cantata

"I have marked ... at necessary places the louds and softs of the instruments, which are the only means of making that chiaroscuro which makes singing and playing attractive."
Alessandro Scarlatti, 1706

In December it is all about Christmas! The ensemble would like to take this opportunity to present a very special Christmas Cantata scored for five voices and strings. Cinque Profeti by Alessandro Scarlatti inventively presents a conversation between the five Old Testament Prophets about the Birth of Christ. This Cantata was first performed in the Vatican in 1705 for the Pope and his guests. This extraordinary composition carries the listener back over 300 years to the sights and sounds of 18th century Italy.