A musical partnership which had humble beginnings in the late 1980s at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music is about to bear tremendous fruit when Brisbane Chorale and Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir join forces for the first time to present Franz Joseph Haydn’s masterpiece ‘The Creation’ in November.
When Brisbane Chorale’s Music Director Emily Cox AM was a student at the “Con”, her vocal accompanist was none other than Fay Baker OAM, Artistic Director of Oriana Choir.
“Collaborating with Fay and Oriana was always something I wanted to do,” says Emily. “I’ve long admired Oriana’s work, and I consider Fay a very important part of my musical growth.”
When Emily and Fay first started discussions regarding a joint performance by the two choirs, ‘The Creation’ quickly appeared on their radar. Emily remembers, “We wanted to present one of the greats, an absolute choral/orchestral blockbuster, which ‘Creation’ surely is.
“We also wanted to find something which would be nurturing for the choirs, both musically and emotionally, and which would bring joy to our listeners after the challenges everyone has faced in the last couple of years.”
‘Creation’ is a work which Emily characterises as more of an opera than an oratorio. “The choir really contributes all the way along in this work with personality and energy, both in its own choruses and in the many movements which involve soloists and chorus,” she says.
“A sense of storytelling must be present the whole way along. There’s a real expectation that the chorus is a vivid communicator throughout.”
‘Creation’ also presents its vocal soloists with very challenging roles and Emily is very excited to have secured the team of Leanne Kenneally (soprano), Tobias Merz (tenor) and Jason Barry-Smith (bass) to be part of these concerts.
“The solo music in ‘Creation’ is virtuosic, demanding not only beautiful sound, but exceptional technique and the ability to bring the vivid text alive,” she explains. “So you can’t go past our three wonderful soloists, Leanne, Tobias and Jason. I am thrilled we have such wonderful singers involved in the project.”
Underpinning all of the tricky vocal architecture of ‘Creation’ is its equally complex and demanding orchestral work and for these performances it will be provided by Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Haydn really broke the mould with this one,” Emily explains. “The orchestra does much more than just accompany. There’s tremendous drama in the orchestral writing, dramatic changes of mood and picturesque imagery, ahead of its time, all making the orchestra an equal partner in bringing this story to life. I can’t wait to work with the wonderful players of BPO on this project.”
Brisbane Chorale is a large symphonic choir about to enter its 40th anniversary year in 2023, and coincidentally 2023 is also Emily’s 20th year as Music Director.
Oriana Choir, meanwhile, came into existence in 2005 when Daniel Calder established The Oriana Concert Choir on the Sunshine Coast. This fledgling choir very quickly proved its credentials when in July 2006 they competed in ABC Classic FM’s National Choir of the Year competition, placing second in the Queensland finals.
Tickets for both the Bokarina and Brisbane City Hall performances of ‘The Creation’ are now on sale and can be purchased using these links.