What a treat we had on the afternoon of Saturday 7 October!

Arts in the Valley brought four of Australia’s finest singers, in the form of Katie Noonan’s AVÉ (her newest ensemble) singing the words of Australian author and poet David Malouf to the music of Australian composers especially commissioned by them and sung for us in our very own Kangaroo Valley Hall.

The acoustic and ambiance of the hall were perfect for this group – no need for microphones, their a cappella voices, both singing and spoken, clearly resonating off the old wood of the high ceiling with the  twinkling fairy lights setting the scene for their program entitled ‘Tumbling like Stars’.

The program was a varied smorgasbord of Australian contemporary composers (including a piece by Katie Noonan herself) and was punctuated by a few ‘Sorbets’ of baroque composers, Tomas Luis de Victoria, JS Bach and Handel in between.

It ended with a delicious encore piece composed by Martin Wesley-Smith, especially prepared for this concert in KV by Avé, in honour of our late, brilliant friend.

The concert involved the use of many different vocal techniques, including humming, whispering and Sprechgesang, as well as a Bach Church Cantata translated into Gubbi Gubbi, Noongar and Gadigal languages.

My personal favourites from the contemporary program were Nocturnal by Iain Grandage, Stars by Stephen Leek, Summer by Katie Noonan, and the very witty Typewriter Music by Thomas Green.

Each of the four members of the Vocal Ensemble introduced at least one work, and it was such a joy to hear them talk about the pieces they were about to sing, and what made them special for them, giving us an intimate window into their world.

The a capella nature of the concert without microphones was very moving; there were, occasional pitchy moments, where the intonation was not 100% true, but this could easily have been more a timbre or balance issue than plain intonation – as anyone who has sung in a choir will attest! 

All in all, I felt a lovely mutual warmth between artists and audience which, I hope, will warm the cockles for quite some time to come!

Bridget Crouch