The Cathedral Choir provides choral music for a wide range of Anglican Diocesan events, such as weddings, funerals, Synod Services, consecrations of Bishops, Cathedral Banquets and Art Shows, Magdalene Centre fundraisers and celebrations in other parishes and organisations, especially those without their own choirs. St Peter’s Cathedral Choir has joined with St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral Choir for services, as well as singing with other choirs.
The Cathedral Choir also provides choristers for performances by State Opera SA, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Miss Saigon launch, South Australian Business Ambassadors Network, National Palliative Care Conference, various schools and a Town Hall Christmas Concert. It has significant links with the Elder Conservatorium of Music, with joint ventures and shared educational opportunities for young organists in particular.
The Choir has recorded four compact discs, most recently two excellent recordings – petrus a CD of anthems and motets and Hark! a CD of Christmas music.
The Choir sang two services of Lessons and Carols in 1998 and 1999 for the ABC, the second being broadcast nationally. The ABC recorded the Cathedral Choir in a service of Lessons and Carols for the first of its Hymns of Glory series; this was broadcast nationally on Christmas Eve 2006 to an estimated one million people. The Choir was invited to record another service of Lessons and Carols in 2012, again shown across Australia on Christmas Eve, to critical acclaim.
Cathedral Concerts past and future
In addition to its regular services, the Cathedral Choir has performed a number of concerts to critical acclaim. In 1998 it performed Benjamin Britten’s St Nicolas in the Cathedral, conducted by Leonie Hempton, then later in the year in the ABC’s Big Rehearsal in the Adelaide Town Hall, with the late David Measham. A new production with a largely changed treble line in 2004 was performed under the baton of Graham Abbott; this was an excellent musical event, with very positive reviews from experienced critics.
The Cathedral Series began in 2006, incorporating some existing services (such as Good Friday Reflection, Advent Carols, Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols) with other concerts involving musicians from within and outside the Cathedral. These series of concerts were managed by Edward Joyner, at that time one of the young men in the Cathedral Choir, demonstrating additional opportunities for young musicians to expand their skills in the Arts into event management. The Series included collaboration with the large performing choir from the University of Adelaide, the Elder Conservatorium Chorale (JS Bach St John Passion, 2007; Mozart Requiem, 2008), local professional orchestras such as the Adelaide Art Orchestra (Mozart Vespers, 2006) and some of the highest calibre of musicians in Adelaide such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Brass (Splendour of Venice, 2007). The 2007 Series included a performance by the Tallis Scholars, the world renowned English Choral group, in which the Cathedral Choir was invited to perform as supporting artists. The 2008 Cathedral Series began with the Mozart Requiem performed as a Reflection for Good Friday, where the Cathedral was filled to capacity. Those present were privileged to witness a remarkable, moving performance, full of youthful enthusiasm and beautiful singing, communicating high emotion at the most sombre moment of the church’s year.
The Cathedral Series brought people who would not necessarily attend worship services into the Cathedral to experience high quality music from English, European and Australian traditions; many of these people may not otherwise be exposed to this music. For many, concerts by the Cathedral Choir serve as an introduction to the choral tradition. The Cathedral Choir was integral to the series, performing in at least half of the concerts. Proceeds from the Cathedral Series were invested in the St Peter’s Cathedral Music Foundation.
While the formal Cathedral Series no longer runs, there remains a significant musical contribution offered for Good Friday and Advent Sunday in particular. Advent Sunday has seen the Music Foundation offer refreshments after Evensong, to welcome in the new liturgical year, to thank those who have given generously to the Music Foundation and to pay tribute to the musicians for the work they have done.
In addition, the Music Foundation has provided leadership in the celebration of Music Sunday in recent years. Patron Stephen Watkins provided a reflection in the place of a sermon in 2012, which was very well received. The Music Foundation funded orchestral musicians and soloists to allow for an Orchestral Mass in 2013; Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolai was offered as part of the regular service, which placed it in its liturgical context. In 2014 Britain’s Fieri Consort were the guests of the Cathedral, sponsored by the Music Foundation, to provide the music for both services on Music Sunday, 17 August 2014.
Cantores in Excelsis, the Cathedral Choir’s Trebles and Altos, performed Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols in June 2013. This performance, accompanied by harp, marked the centenary of the composer’s birth.
For some years now the Cathedral Choir has worked in partnership with the Elder Conservatorium of Music to provide a reflection on Good Friday. Recent years have seen Mozart Requiem, Bach’s St John Passion, Faure Requiem and other seasonal music. The Cathedral has been full to capacity on these occasions, which sees singers and orchestral performers, the majority of them of school and university age, perform beautiful music which enables those who attend to reflect on the events of the first Good Friday.