The Shoalhaven Lydian Singers presented a weekend of Handel’s Messiah in Berry and Nowra before Christmas 2017, then in Ulladulla and Kiama just before Easter 2018.
With some 50 choir members, seven instrumentalists, four soloists and musical director Lesley Challender delighting the audience with powerful, emotional and uplifting singing, all 4 concerts were well attended, with Berry and Nowra being sold out completely. It was wonderful to also offer this much-loved work in the southern and northern churches, in part to celebrate The Lydians 40th anniversary.
The choir was formed in 1977, by the late Don Dudgeon. Only one of the founding members, Noni Rogan, still sings with the choir.
For all performances except in Berry, an organ from All Organs Australia was brought in for the day, creating a breathtaking sound.
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), was one of the leading French composers of his time whose musical style influenced many musicians in the 20th century. Fauré began sketches for the Requiem in 1887. Unlike many composers, he was not drawn to compose a Requiem because of the death of a loved one. When asked about his motivation for writing it, Fauré responded:
“My Requiem was composed for nothing … for fun, if I may be permitted to say so!”
“It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. . . . . As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.”
These are Faure’s thoughts on spirituality in the Requiem:
“Everything I managed to entertain in the way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.”
The work was performed at Fauré’s funeral in 1924.
The Lydians anticipated the forthcoming Spring and Summer seasons with a romp through a tantalizing selection of seaside themed and related songs, both old and new.