Monterverdi ‘Vespers’ at St Mary’s


The Choir of St James’ King Street with the choristers and scholars of St Mary’s Cathedral and period instrumentalists Australian Baroque Brass performs Claudio Monteverdi’s masterpiece,  Vespro della Beata Vergine (Vespers for the Virgin Mary, 1610).

This concert is the first performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers at St Mary’s Cathedral and continues the 2013 Metamorphosis concert series for the Choir of St James’. Nearly 100 performers will gather in a magnificent spectacle in a similar vein to last year’s Splendour of Venice concert. Both singers and instrumentalists will be positioned around the cathedral to enhance the acoustic of its spaces and to realise the effects of Monteverdi’s brilliant antiphonal writing.

The appeal of the Vespers has endured through centuries. Monteverdi, who later took holy orders, expresses his reverence for God within the pizzazz of a secular drama. Also known as the father of opera, Monteverdi’s gift lies in his ability to construct a work of multiple movements into a whole, combining antique and modern musical forms with a nuanced musical line that mirrors of the rhythm of words themselves. He draws out the emotion from the text, connecting with the unchurched as much as the churched.

Born in Cremona, home of the illustrious Stradivari and Amati violin maker dynasties, Monteverdi’s writing also demonstrates his innovative and sensitive scoring for instruments and, possibly, the influence of these craftsmen.

Based at Sydney’s oldest church The Choir of St James’, comprises around a dozen professional adult singers. It is one of Australia’s foremost choirs. The Choir has hosted masterclasses with The King’s Singers, amongst others, and recently toured to Perth and Singapore. Future plans include commissions of new works. Head of Music Warren Trevelyan-Jones has sung with many of Europe’s finest vocal groups, including The Tallis Scholars, and is also a singing teacher and music therapist. Ensemble Plus Ultra, which he co-founded with Michael Noone, was awarded a Gramophone Award for Early Music in 2012.

The Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral is known as one of Australia’s best choirs and is Australia’s oldest permanent musical organisation. Today it comprises approximately forty choristers and is regularly in demand for broadcasts, concerts and tours. Upcoming projects include two CD releases in 2013. Director of Music Thomas Wilson is a highly experienced conductor and esteemed organist whose previous positions include stints at both Wellington cathedrals. He has also served as Assistant Organist, and latterly Precentor, at Westminster Abbey. He has recently been elected Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

Founded in 2003 by John Foster, Australian Baroque Brass (ABB) is renowned as one of Australia’s finest early music ensembles. ABB also performs a diverse repertoire at events which include the Adelaide Festival, Australia, and the Petworth Festival, England. As well as touring internationally these St James’ ‘Artists in Residence’ have made acclaimed recordings and have a ‘thrilling playing style’ (ABC Limelight Magazine). ABB will be playing period cornetts, sackbuts and theorbos, and will be joined by special guest instrumentalists.

Tickets:  $50/45; to book call (02) 8256 2222, visit, or at the door.

There will be no interval. The performance will last approximately one hour and thirty minutes.

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