Bel A Cappella Turns Twenty

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In 2015, choral ensemble Bel a cappella celebrates 20 years of performing with their inaugural concert at the beautiful, awe-inspiring Cell Block Theatre at the National Art School – a dramatic structure and a significant feature of Australia’s colonial and cultural heritage as it was once the Old Darlinghurst Gaol. 

Conducted by Music Director Anthony Pasquill, Bel a cappella will be presenting music from the 15th century by Johannes Ockeghem with his polyphonic setting of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass -the Missa pro defunctis, or Mass for the dead, through to James MacMillan’s 21st-century take on the text of Psalm 51 (Miserere mei). The Latin psalm is the same as that Allegri has set to great acclaim and pleads: ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to they great mercy’.

Contrasting with the simple beauty of the Ockeghem are the Quatre Motets Pour Un Temps De Pénitence by Francis Poulenc which date from 1938‐39, three years after his return to Catholicism following his pilgrimage to visit the famous Black Virgin in Rocamadour in Western France. The motets are short settings of texts from Holy Week and show a remarkable balance of emotional restraint and expression along with textural and musical economy.

Bel a cappella will also be performing Australian premieres by two Australian composers: Ave Maria by Anna Jacobs and Pater Noster by David Basden. 

Closing the concert is Estonian composer Veljo Tormis’ (b1930) frightening, powerful and entrancing Curse Upon Iron. which tells the story about how iron came to be. Driven on by the beating of the shaman drum, the choir chants and shouts lines from the Finnish epos Kalevala, mixed with modern statements and the wailing of sirens. 

Tickets: Adults$45/ concession $35. A discount of $5 per ticket is available for groups of 10 or more, if pre-booked through the website 

Tickets are also available by phone 02 9064 1729. 

Limited tickets will be available at the door for what is likely to be a sell-out concert.


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