A joyful celebration of 40 years of fine choral work

By W. L. Hoffmann (Canberra Times, Tuesday 16 December 2003, p19)

Australian National University Choral Society, Great Hall of University House, 13 December.

SCUNA, the ANU Choral Society, celebrated its 40 years of service to the Canberra musical community with a special concert last Saturday afternoon in the Hall of University House where so many of its performances have been given over those years. And former members of the choir were invited hack to join with present members on this joyous occasion.

But before the combined performances, the 55 singers currently in the ensemble, and under the direction of their assistant conductor Matthew Stuckings, provided performances of a group of unaccompanied choral pieces which included two works from the program for the choir's initial concert on July 30, l963.

These were the Missa Brevis of Palestrina, which received a performance which nicely conveyed the glowing expression of this music which has retained its power and beauty over the four centuries since its composition. It was followed by Crucifixus by Monteverdi, also receiving a pleasingly shaped performance.

The other eight pieces in this part of the program all came from the SCUNA Songbook, a substantial collection of some 75 items which have become an important part of the traditions of SCUNA.

Here the many former members who were present and who knew so well these songs they had sung previously came on stage to make a massed choir of considerable proportions.

This varied group of works included pieces by Dowland and Morley, the warmly expressive Locus Iste of Bruckner and a setting of the Hodie Christus Natus Est by former choir member Stewart Skelt, who was also attending this concert.

There was also a group of Christmas carols, in which the audience joined in, another tradition of SCUNA's Christmas concert each year.

Finally on the program, and continuing the seasonal theme. There was Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. This was indeed a joyful musical celebration of 40 years of fine choral performances.