Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bondi Dawn Chorus

crowd assembles pre 5.30am

I'm quite accustomed to waking up to Munson's dawn chorus of chirps and whimpers that signify he's rolled under the bed again and can't get purchase on the floorboards to scramble out … but this is not a post about Bondi (the malamute either).

This morning was the last of a series of free beach-side concerts held in Sydney, with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs performing a 45 minute program of:

O Virtus Sapientiae - Hildegard von Bingen
Dawn Desiderata - Raffaele Marcellino*
Shore - Iain Grandage*
Totus Tuus - Henryk Gorecki
The Pool - Dan Walker*
O Magnum Mysterium - Morten Lauridsen
Sailing for the Sun - John Peterson*
Song for Athene - John Tavener
O-re-mi - Nigerian song

*new work  commissioned for Dawn Chorus

This morning the concert began a little after 5.30am in front of the Pavilion at Bondi Beach, with I guess about 5000 people crowding around. I was about 20m from the choir and must confess that about 75% of the program was inaudible. Even without chatterers, mobile-phones, drunken singers, and camera shutters the choir needs amplification to make the most of the venue and audience.

 Conductor Brett Weymark stands over the 120-strong choir.

I've heard the von Bingen and Gorecki pieces before, but the musical drawcard for me was Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium   [MP3 excerpt] (thankfully the most audible part of the concert). I first heard it in December 2000 during a week-long stay in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. I was wandering around the cloisters of the Church of the Immaculate Conception looking for a room noted for the David Alfaro Siqueiros mural on its ceiling. I could hear a choir in action, and stumbled into said room to find about a dozen people standing in a circle performing this beautiful piece. The acoustics were amazing and I - the sole audience - could see tears trickling down the cheeks of some of the choristers as they sang.


Within minutes of the Bondi concert ending I was in the water for about 45 minutes of body-surfing. Water temperature was great and the waves built up nicely as the sun broke out across the edge of the continent.

20090131 Bondi Dawn Chorus 






Bronte Beach 7am

I joined some guys I bumped into at Bondi for more body-surfing at Bronte Beach and then breakfast at one of the cafes along the facing street.  Home again by 9.30am with temperature already sitting at 29C.

1 comment:

  1. Glorious! But 29C at 9:30 am... not for the faint of heart.