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ASTRA: 1926/2016


ASTRA: 1926/2016

  • Date: Sunday, 17 April 2016, 5pm
  • Venue: Church of All Nations — 180 Palmerston St, Carlton, VIC
  • Tickets: Adults: $35 | Children: $20 | Concession: $20 — Tickets can be purchased online or by phone on (03) 9326 5424

Event Details

This concert reassembles a program that made an outstanding impact in Astra’s 2015 season. It brings together two larger works offering highly individual perspectives on the centenary of World War I – from Russia in 1916 a wartime composition of idealistic scope, seeking to unite East and West in traditions of language and liturgy, and from Australia in 1999 another multi-lingual composition, creating a musical space for the secular voices of leading poets of the day who were direct witnesses to the event.

Alexander Kastalsky's centennial Requiem for Fallen Brothers was written in multiple musical styles and languages of the allied combatants of the Great War, from Orthodox eastern countries to the Catholic and Anglican west. The music creates a remarkable composite vision of the Requiem liturgy which nowadays might be considered ‘postmodern’, from a skilled and original composer and former student of Tchaikovsky. It fell into obscurity in post-revolutionary Russia, but has recently been arranged by the Australian composer Graham Hair as a version with string quintet for the Russkaya Cappella choir in Scotland. 

Helen Gifford drew on an array of 14 poets in English, French and German for her Choral Scenes commissioned for the Astra Choir in 1999, representing the finest poetic level of the era, and all writing out of first-hand experience of the battlefields. Its unique form is quite distinct from the traditional war oratorio. The poems are allowed to build their own scenic spaces in a sonic environment of speakers, choir and an array of instruments, including tuba and percussion. Three shorter, more recent works include Helen Gifford’s solo viola composition Desperation; from Romania Vlad-Răzvan Baciu’s wordless choral texture evoking the via dolorosa; and from Venice a recently-premiered setting from Revelations by Riccardo Vaglini, creating an acoustic theatre of 4 solo sopranos, pianissimo choir, timpani and bells.

Performers: Phoebe Green, solo viola; the Astra Choir with solo singers, speakers and instrumental ensembles; conducted by John McCaughey

Featured non-Australian music: Vlad-Razvan Cacui, Ascensio ante Crucem, 2008. Riccardo Vaglini, Noli timere, choir and percussion , 2015

Further information for this event is available online at the event's website or by phone on (03) 9326 5424 or by email to info@astramusic.org.au

Featured Australian Works

Choral scenes : a work for speakers, chorus and instruments (1999) by Helen Gifford
— performed by Astra Choir and John McCaughey
Desperation : for solo viola (2014) by Helen Gifford
— performed by Phoebe Green

Featured artists

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