In the intimate setting of the Sydney Philharmonia space at The Wharf, soprano Jane Sheldon and the Acacia Quartet launched their recent CD North+South, recorded with harpist Genevieve Lang, in an evening of stories in music as Acacia also performed two works for string quartet composed by Lyle Chan.
Now based in the US, Jane Sheldon sang a selection of 10 folk songs from Australia, the US and the British Isles, couched in arrangements by a range of composers who included Andrew Ford, Dan Walker, Elena Kats-Chernin, Anne Carr-Boyd, Martin Wesley-Smith and Sheldon herself. There were a capella arrangements as well as those with various combination of strings. Sheldon’s purity of tone and straight from the heart delivery gave perfect expression to the likes of I Never Will Marry, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier and Tommy Tanna.
The Acacia Quartet, violinists Lisa Stewart and Myee Clohessy, cellist Anna Martin-Scrase and violist Stefan Duwe, fresh from working with conductor composer Eric Whitacre, played with precision and sensitivity for the solo voice, creating a string sound that enriched the folk elements of the songs, moving to more dramatic textures as the narratives changed.
Lyle Chan’s two works, Night Vigil (1993/2013) and Don’t Leave Me This Way (1995/2010) express his intensely personal memoirs of working as an AIDS activist and are dedicated to two friends who died from the syndrome. Lyle Chan was on hand to speak of how his works took shape, commenting that he was ‘deeply honoured that Acacia have embraced (his) works.”