Search
Close this search box.

VOCES8 WITH JACK LIEBECK AT THE CONCERT HALL, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Above: VOCES8 (back row l-r) Andrea Haines, Katie Jeffries-Harris, Dominic Carver, MaryRuth miller, Blake Morgan, (on floor l-r) Euan Williamson, Chris Moore, Barnaby Smith (Artistic Director) Featured image: VOCES8 perform with guest violinist, Jack Liebeck. Photo credit: Cassandra Hannagan.

The ultimate goal of any established touring group would surely be to strengthen their brand identity. By such consistency and success across several areas, the group’s longevity, increased global exposure and the chance to win over new fans and consolidate existing ones will follow.

VOCES8 have several key areas of expansion that have ensured the phenomenon of their huge popularity is enduring. Their impressive vocal talents and versatility from the sixteeenth century to now continues to amaze. A personable, endearing charm oozes out of its members in performance and anytime they are comfortably on stage, as easily as multiple mellismas or spine-tingling high notes. Most of the eight singers offered engaing introductory talk spots before numbers or brackets. All of them can deliver verbal and visual humour with superb timing plus vivid facial and physical expressions.

The group, with admin centres across the globe is always on the hunt for  new local groups it would be worthwhile collaborating with. This concert also show the vocalists comfortable with choreography, collaboration with other voices, instruments and texts changing from English to Wiradjuri and to wordless instrumental imitation.

Some nineteen numbers fleshed out the programme for this tour concert . Variety is a weak word with which to describe the huge range of music making and styles successfully presented in the concert’s svelte swoop. Three pieces saw the vocalists perform with the guest violinist touring with them, Jack Liebeck. 

Above: VOCES8 perform at the Sydney Opera House. Photo credit: Cassandra Hannagan.

All work with the fluid phrasing and beautiful tone of this violinist was a special blend of VOCES8 voices and the violin- often hailed as the instrument so close to the human voice. Sublime and unique text setting  and powerful atmospheres graced US composer Taylor Scott Davis’ work, Effortlessly. 

As well as this exciting premiere, continuing the group’s popularity as a vehicle form new music, the VOCES8 version of Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending for solo violin and eight chamber hummed’ instruments (voices) was another blockbuster innovation and moment of heightened expression. This was goosebump material, betraying a flexibility and bold extension of the typical vocal ensemble format.

Early music made up only a fraction of this concert. Madrigals by Thomas Weelkes and Orlando di Lasso appeared in the second half of the concert, complete with comic expression and movement. The concert opened in high-stamina seventeenth century mode, with a very capable delivery of the polyphonic piece O Clap Your Hands by Orlando Gibbons.

New vocal music was championed in this concert. Caroline Shaw’s shimmering work, comissioned by VOCES8, and the swallow was heard with two other special, atmospheric pieces. Melissa Dunphy’s Halcyon Days was expertly articulated as the group performed it with enviable restraint and control.

Above: Voces8, Moorabilla Voices and instrumental accompaniment fill the Concert Hall stage. Photo credit: Cassandra Hnnagan.

The second half of this brand- affirming concert saw VOCES8 further display its versatility and recent music. British songwriter Kate Rusby’s atmospheric 2022 song Underneath the Stars was heard, its scenic depiction masterfully arranged by Jim Clements. The second half of this concert featured no less than six arrangements by the resident VOCES8 arranger. Clements also expanded well-known popular music from the twentieth century to showcase the part singing prowess and complex a capella abilities of this group.

Transformation and challenging expansion for the eight voice of tracks such as The Sound Of Silence, Don McLean’s Vincent, The Luckiest by Ben Folds and Nobody Does it Better. Choreography from VOCES8 using the stage space well and a smooth jazz groove were a major contrast provided for the arragements of Nat King Cole’s Straighten Up and Fly Right as well as Gershwin’s Slap That Bass, complete with imperessive scat singing.

Apart from this great celebration of the VOCES8 performers, the group fulfilled its collaboration goals which local voices whist on tour in a touching and impressive bracket after interval. Joining a chamber combo of piano, string quartet and saxophone and a choir of children from remote and rural areas, VOCES8 collaborated with Moorabilla Voices.

Above: In collaboration- the youth of Moorabilla Voices are joined by members of VOCES8. Photo credit: Cassandra Hannagan.

It was a special bracket led by the Moorabilla founder, artistic director and conductor, Michelle Leonard. This caring conductor harnessed the forces clearly. The instrumental and vocal parts plus VOCES8 adding their lines at the side of the stage created some moving soundscapes. Performing works inclding pieces in Aboriginal language  the clear lines from a choir of youth was impressive. Existing works  (by Josie Gibson and Kevin Barker, the latter in enhanced arrangement) were followed by a new commission work by Andrew Howes.

This collaboration was touching to see, with the VOCES8 group assisting the youth to perform in the city. It also was a quality realisation of the works, with VOCES8 expanded significantly by the disciplined Moorabilla Voices delivery. These acccompanied Australian works, on a stage full of hope, our heads full of super-group textures plus hearts full of gratefiul joy that the VOCES8 tour plan is to perform alongside a deserving  local group of voices.

Bravos in canon for VOCES8, and bravos in endless multiples of eight for the entertaining evening and musical philanthropy involved in community collaboration. We celebrate the chance to hear this formidable super-group live, and be part of the further expansion of the global success of this musical phenomenon Down Under, with  huge voices, set of personalities and reverberant heart to match.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Search

Subscribe to our Bi-Weekly Newstetter

Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to receive updates and stay informed about art and cultural events around Sydney. – it’s free!

Want More?

Get exclusive access to free giveaways and double passes to cinema and theatre events across Sydney. 

Scroll to Top