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Blog // Sounds
February 27, 2009

Hong Kong Arts Festival – Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Thursday night saw the Hong Kong Arts Festival move to the unusual venue of St John’s Cathedral in Mid Levels. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir gave a performance that was in equal measures assured, kinetic and brilliant. They overcame the limitations of the space and drew the audience away from the droning background noise of […]

Thursday night saw the Hong Kong Arts Festival move to the unusual venue of St John’s Cathedral in Mid Levels. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir gave a performance that was in equal measures assured, kinetic and brilliant. They overcame the limitations of the space and drew the audience away from the droning background noise of the city to a soaring place of musical and aesthetic awe. Conductor Stephen Layton was confident and focused bringing both the singers and audience into unison with the intricacy and gravitas of the music.

The programme was drawn exclusively from Arvo Part and Felix Mendelssohn, with Cyrillus Kreek’s setting of Psalm 104 as the encore. For me, the highlights were Mendelssohn’s “Why Do Heathens Rage” and Part’s Magnificat-Antiphons. However, it was hard to be too picky; there really wasn’t a bad performance on the night. This was outstanding musicianship.

With a programme focussed on sacred choral music it made sense to opt for a sacred setting. Although I did have reservations about the space in St John’s. There is something less than rich or harmonious about the reverb in that sanctuary – it often makes the music performed with in it sound small (with unnumbered seating, I went for a space in the second row, just in case). It’s a tribute to both the power the and clarity of the EPCC that they managed to really fill the space, making it breath and resonate in surprising ways. Great choirs play the room like an instrument and the EPCC, especially in the second set, did just that.

In the end, the crowd seemed like they would have happily settled down for another set and I would have merrily chased a ticket for the EPCC’s Friday night performance, if I wasn’t already booked up. This was another top quality performance in what is shaping up to be a truly memorable Hong Kong Arts Festival.

[tags] Hong Kong Arts Festival, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Arvo Part [/tags]

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