The Australian Boys Choir and The Vocal Consort, 2009
Devoted enitrely to choral music by living Australian composers, Calls & Cries contains several pieces for boys’ voices, most with piano accompaniment. Child in Nature is a set of seven poems by Robin Muir variously described as powerful, poignant, unusual and rich. The Choir presents these intense and often dark pieces with the composer Calvin Bowman playing the accompaniment.
By comparison, Paul Stanhope’s Losing the Plot, settings of four poems by Michael Leunig, is cheerful and irreverent. Joseph Twist’s Rain Dream tells of a child who lives in the Australian bush and has never seen rain. He dreams of what it would be like to see a thunderstorm and the piece becomes a kind of rain dance to Wandjina, an aboriginal rain spirit. Animals Noah Forgot uses five Banjo Paterson poems about strange animals like wombats and platypuses. These unison songs with simple accompaniment were commissioned for the Choir’s 70th Anniversary. Composer Noel Ancell also provides two unaccompanied pieces: The Traveller, a setting of words by CJ Dennis; and Black Swans, text again by Banjo Paterson.
Involving The Vocal Consort, there are five more pieces, all unaccompanied. Joseph Twist appears again with a sensitive setting of Mary Frye’s Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep, while Matthew Orlovich is represented by Araluen, and energetic celebration of roland Robinson’s evocative landscape poem. Stephen Leek develops text from Mark Patey in Breakers, expressing wonder at dolphins. Clare Maclean uses similar minimalist techniques but in more contemplative mood to set Oodgeroo Nunuccal’s poem in Hope There Is. In Three Australian Bush Songs, Iain Grandage provides a bird’s-eye view of an Australian day – as well as inspiration for the title of the CD.