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Sydney Philharmonia Choirs | Transcendence

Photography by Keith Saunders



In 2020 we’re embracing the centuries-old tradition of celebrating Saint Cecilia’s Day, 22 November, with a concert in honour of the patron saint of music and musicians. In art she’s usually depicted with an organ, but her association with music comes from her wedding day when she “sang in her heart to the Lord”. So it seems right to raise our voices in song with a garland of choral tributes from across the ages.

The framework for the concert is the meditative Mass for St Cecilia’s Day by Californian visionary and mystic Lou Harrison. Dedicated to “The St Cecilia Society for the Preservation and Restoration of Gregorian Chant and Peking Opera and Other Endangered Things of Beauty”, it gave Harrison a chance to draw on his boyhood love of plainchant as well his fascination with gamelan and Chinese music.

From Harrison’s Mass the program looks back to composers such as madrigalist Peter Philips and forward to James MacMillan and Australian Paul Stanhope. And no “Caecilian” concert would be complete without the musical tributes by Vaughan Williams, Elgar and, of course, Benjamin Britten, famously born on St Cecilia’s Day. We’re also excited to include two specially commissioned works by Andrew Anderson and Maria Lopes.

Join our Chamber Singers in the intimate space of the Utzon Room for this heavenly concert – an oasis of pure musical inspiration.

Saturday 21 November, 5pm
Sunday 22 November, 2pm
Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House

Lou HARRISON Mass for St Cecilia’s Day
Gabriel JACKSON Cecilia Virgo
Peter PHILIPS Cecilia Virgo
Benjamin BRITTEN Hymn to St Cecilia
Richard Rodney BENNETT Verses on St Cecilia’s Day
James MacMILLAN Cecilia Virgo
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Silence and Music
Paul STANHOPE Lament to St Cecilia
Bernard ROSE Feast Song for St Cecilia
Edward ELGAR There is Sweet Music
Maria LOPES World Premiere
Andrew ANDERSON World Premiere

Brett Weymark conductor
Sydney Philharmonia Chamber Singers