2010 Performances

Eclipse

Saturday 10th July 2010, 7pm

St Peter’s Cathedral,
North Adelaide

Further Information

Bookings

Tickets $30/$20(conc) available through BASS 131 246 (service fees apply), or at the door.

For all enquiries please contact us

Concert Reviews

Music to die by and for

The Advertiser
March 18, 2008

In a Fringe treat, Lucinda Moon, Australia’s undisputed leader in the niceties of baroque violin, led the strings, harpsichord, recorders and voices of Adelaide Baroque and Syntony in a valiant hour (fulfilling the promise of the title, for once).

It was some of the most inspiring, most deeply felt, most carefully crafted music ever composed.

Tessa Miller, of whom we can never have enough, was in full health and splendid voice for the aged frail Simeon’s welcome to death, Ich habe Genug (BWV 82), adding discreet ornaments to her repeats. Equally focused on death and dying was Lamento d’Arianna, Monteverdi’s 1608 plaint and complaint of the princess abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos and terrified at the prospect of being torn to pieces and devoured by wild animals.

She mourns. She rages. She apologises for raging. The five unaccompanied voices of Syntony covered the whole range of her outbursts, from the opening “Let me die” (has this sentiment ever been expressed more potently?) to the closing affirmation of her love for her callous betrayer. But fret not for Arianna. We know she survived and eventually married Dionysius.

The two groups combined for Purcell’s Love’s Goddess Sure Was Blind (1692), a birthday ode for Queen Mary. Her virtues were extolled in solos, duets and choruses, all respectfully presented even in the slightly comical Many many many such days duet and the promise that her death shall be properly mourned. Salutations to the many musicians, who defied the unconscionable heat, and the sweating audiences who kept faith with them.

Elizabeth Silsbury

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Cold comfort for strings

The Advertiser
23rd July, 2008

SYNTONY has carefully built a reputation for chamber choral works chosen to match the qualities and abilities of its half–dozen singers. Their unaccompanied, carefully blended ensemble has been exemplary for accuracy of pitch and rhythm.

Its latest program changed the game and set the goal posts much farther apart. In Cantate Domino by Buxtehude, set for two sopranos, bass and continuo, Emma Horwood, Matthew Rutty (counter–tenor) and Timothy Marks were supported by Glenys March (harpsichord) and Jamie Hey (cello) – not so different, but less cohesive in ensemble without the crucial colloid of absent tenor Ben Whittall.

A string quintet led by Lucinda Moon presumably was all in tune before they left the warm back room for the bitter chill of the church. In their Concerto per quartetto No 2 in G minor by Durante, the strings felt the cold as badly as we did. Wisely they tuned in situ for Stabat Mater, Pergolesi’s early 18th century setting of the words spoken by Christ’s mother as she watches over her dying son. Horwood and Rutty were technically on top of their 12 soprano and alto solos and duets, some surprisingly sunny. Tonally, a brighter, more assertive voice would have better matched Horwood’s vibrancy.

Despite some easily discernible flaws, the concert was rapturously received by the large, unusually youthful audience. In the wake of Sydney’s tsunami of religious fervour, perhaps?

Elizabeth Silsbury

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Concert series ends on a golden note

The Advertiser
January 2, 2008

The Christian story is apparently a renewable energy source, along with the sun, the winds and the waves.

From Away in a Manger to the B Minor Mass, composers – believers, agnostics, don’t–knowers – have been inspired to put words about the birth, life and death of Jesus to music.

Syntony completed their Alchemy concert series with Gold, works that glowed with the lustre of pure, rust–proof, 24–carat aurum.

Six singers in various combinations proclaimed The Word in Rorate caeli, by Jacob Handl, Taverner’s funny and provocative Today the Virgin (wherein Mary doth protest too much, trying to explain her baby bump to Joseph) and two motets by Tomas Luis da Victoria.

For Five Carols from Quem Quaeritis, it took the liberty of allocating two lower voices – originally scored for children, later for unbroken female voices – to tenor Ben Whittall and counter tenor Matthew Rutty.

With sopranos Emma Horwood and Bridget Warnes, they gave an intelligent, if alternative reading of these lovely pieces.

Michael Milton led a six–piece ensemble comprising strings and harpsichord, plus Tim Keenihan tootling on a bright, sweet piccolo trumpet, for the final Vivaldi Gloria.

Four matching pairs of singers managed all the solos and choruses between them – just as well as many other goes at this old indestructible with quadruple the choir.

Let’s add the power of song to our list of renewable energy sources.

Elizabeth Silsbury

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Fire

The Advertiser
Friday 14th September, 2007

Syntony’s Alchemy series proceeded from elements Earth and Air to Fire, on its way to Water (November 17) and ultimately Gold (December 22), with no dross to be discarded enroute.

Thorough preparation, empathetic blend of voices from the upper reaches (Bridget Warnes, Emma Horwood) to the lower (Timothy Marks) framing the core of Matthew Rutty and Ben Wittall, and significant repertoire ensured that their high musical standards were maintained.

Projected images illuminated the side walls and a threatening fiery glow loomed from the altar. It looked good and sounded even better.

Alas. The only illumination was on the stage. The audience was literally left in the dark, unable to read the explanatory texts in the program. Let there be light. Please.

Elizabeth Silsbury

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Earth

The Advertiser
Wednesday 4th April, 2007

Syntony’s 2007 season, focusing on the elements of alchemy, featured Earth in its opening concert with music from Dunstaple to Britten, although leaning fairly heavily towards composers of the 16th and 17th centuries.

With the group’s naturally sensitive musicianship and ability to produce the elusive deft touch and delicate hues par excellence at the drop of a hat, the program might have been leavened to good effect with more representation from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It was significant that their most effective items were Saint-Saens’s subtle rose-tinted Les fleurs et les arbres and Calme des nuits and Britten’s occasionally acerbic, often witty Five Flower Songs in which Britten’s genius for word-painting was illuminated with skill and brilliant elan.

On the other hand, one occasionally felt the need for greater mass and depth of sound in the items by Schutz, Lassus and Byrd, although there was no denying the beauty of line and curvature of phrase Syntony brought to these works.

Alongside their fussy lighting changes, it was questionable whether Syntony’s six singers constantly swapping and changing roles was ultimately successful.

With only one voice to a part, the resulting alterations to timbre, balance and cohesion were often dramatic but also confusing. No one doubts the need for some such alterations, but, by the end, one began to wonder if the real Syntony would emerge and identify itself.

Rodney Smith

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Chant

The Advertiser
Friday 2nd June, 2006

From the ethereal opening of Hildegard von Bingen’s De Virginibus by soprano Bridget Warnes, through to Arvo Pärt’s self-abasing Memento, Syntony’s four men and two women were in their finest form ever.

Sounds a bit churchy, doesn’t it? A program of choral works deriving from chant, the oldest know form of Christian music. But although the texts of Syntony’s Chant concert were all sacred, the settings conveyed moods and emotions with relevance to the secular world — love, grief, jubilation, despair — and the capacity crowd sat rapt. Chunks of Nine Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter (Sunday hymns) by 16th century Anglican exemplar Thomas Tallis gave the singers respite from the greater complexities of his pupil William Byrd in Ave Verum Corpus.

Among the many outstanding moments were the ending of Robert White’s Lamentation, and the big noise a few voices made for the riotous "Alleluia" of Ascendit Deus by Peter Phillips.

Elizabeth Silsbury

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