Blind Soprano Ria Andriani

Handel’s mighty coronation anthem and contemporary choral gems by two Masters of the Queen’s Music – including Australia’s Malcolm Williamson – head up a unique Sydney Chamber Choir concert to be held on Saturday June 1 at 7.30pm in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney. Singers in the celebrated Choir are drawn from across Sydney and include its copywriter, soprano Ria Andriani, who is blind, a translator of scores and texts into braille and an enthusiastic speaker on these choral highlights.

A Royal Affair will be conducted by Sam Allchurch who this year replaces the late and esteemed Richard Gill as the Choir’s Music Director. The 30 choristers will be backed by the Muffat Collective expanded for this event into a 21-piece orchestra.

The only non-Briton to be Master of the Queen’s Music, Williamson brought a larrikin spirit to the role. His Symphony of Voices, exploring the spirituality of the Australian landscape to a text by poet James McAuley, will be performed, as will his Love, the Sentinel, a haunting work composed after a worker’s death during Britain’s industrial unrest in 1972.

Current Master of the Queen’s Music, Scottish composer Judith Weir offers a more intimate choral experience, entwining poetry from writers as diverse as Shakespeare, George Herbert, Edward Lear and e.e. cummings.

“At first it might seem unlikely pairings from an obscure royal position, but we’re exploring here how music is always a part of a society,” says Sam Allchurch.

Handel’s Zadok the Priest has graced every British coronation since it was first composed for the crowning of King George II in 1727. The Choir will also perform Handel’s thrilling Dettingen Te Deum dedicated to George’s military victory, led by the last monarch to go into battle.

“Handel’s richly scored setting of the Te Deum hymn needn’t be a bellicose glorification of war but can represent for us a celebration of peace,” says Sam.

“Old pieces take on new meanings and relevance in new contexts, and Sydney Chamber Choir is at its best when exploring connections between old and new music.”

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