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2014 - our 17th year

Sublime Songs

In 2014 we surpassed our previous record number of newly-commissioned pieces; we premiered 18 new works this year. This total included three suites: This Paradise Now by Sally Whitwell (6 movements); Mass of Deliverance by Dan Walker (5 movements); and The Sseucle Song Cycle by Anastasia Pahos (2 movements). We also premiered new songs by Alice Chance (2), Andrew Howes, Tom Knapp and Owen Elsely.


LEC pictured after the V Concert in June 2014

Performances

For our first concert in March, our Artistic Director Michelle Leonard was inspired by all the Vs: Vivaldi and Venice. The main work for this concert (V is for Venice performed at the Hunter Baillie Church in Annandale) was the wonderful Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi, a resident of Venice. Framing this large work was Adrift by Elena Kats-Chernin and arranged for strings and saxophone by Christina Leonard. Our chamber choir, Ristretto, gave a beautiful performance of Salve Regina by Arvo Part, allowing the audience to close their eyes as they drifted down Venice's smaller canals on their imagined gondolas. The last piece of the concert was a work especially commissioned to bring together the earlier music strands and to allow the musical memory to linger long after the last note had passed: Coalescence by Alice Chance.

In May, our chamber choir, Ristretto, performed the M is for Mothers' Day concert with the Fort Street Chamber Choir at the newly-refurbished Glebe Town Hall. For this celebration of "sweet music" Ristretto again performed Arvo Part's Salve Regina and Dan Walker's Lines in the Sand. After sets by the Fort Street Chamber Choir and the Fort Street High School Quintet, the combined choirs performed Come in and Stay Awhile (Rhonda Polay), Ubi Caritas (Maurice Durufle), Alleluia (Randall Thompson) and Love Me Sweet (Carl Vine, arranged by Marco Creazzo).


Ristretto in 2014

Our first major performance of 2014 took place in June at the Italian Forum Cultural Centre in Leichhardt: the S is for Seuss, Silly Sayings and Sublime Songs concert. There were two concerts of funny and wondrous new music inspired by the works of Dr Seuss. Audiences delighted in music by Sally Whitwell, Anastasia Pahos, Ben Burton, Tom Knapp and a wee bit more as we wove poetry, humour, song and some silliness into a concert designed to make audiences smile.  
Our other major performance in 2014 was the G is for Gloria concert at St James Church in Sydney in October. In addition to John Rutter's magnificent Gloria, this concert saw the world premiere of Dan Walker's Mass of Deliverance that was commissioned by LEC. For this concert we worked with the wonderful Sydney Brass ensemble led by Paul Goodchild. This was the first time that LEC ever sold out a concert before the day of the performance, such was the anticipation around Dan Walker's Mass. The success of the concert is reflected in the fact that this work was performed again at the same venue three months later by the Choir of St James

We rounded out the year with our Christmas season. Ristretto sang carols in Pitt Street on Thursday nights in December as part of the City of Sydney's Christmas festivities. We presented the Carols on Norton concert on 21 December in Leichhardt's Pioneer Memorial Park.

   March - V is for Venice
   May - M is for Mothers (Ristretto)
   June - S is for Seuss, Silly Sayings and Sublime Songs
   October - G is for Gloria
   December - City of Sydney Carols (Ristretto)
   December - Carols on Norton

Commissions

LEC commissioned 18 new works in 2014. These were:
Premiere    Composer               Name
2014                                                                                           

22 Mar       Alice Chance            Coalescence
14 Jun       Sally Whitwell           This Paradise Now Suite (6 movements)
               Anastasia Pahos        The Sseucle Song Cycle (2 songs)
               Alice Chance            Conjured Characters
               Tom Knapp              Food for Thought
12 Oct       Dan Walker              Mass of Deliverance (5 movements)
21 Dec       Andrew Howes          Silent Night, Glassy Night
               Owen Elsely             That's Why I Really Like Christmas

Behind the scenes

We kicked off the year by running Vocal Works over a weekend in March at the Marrickville Town Hall. This initiative saw three highly skilled singers and teachers (Manuela Ochakovski, Marie Angel and Michelle Leonard) conduct a range of workshops for all comers. New exercises and techniques were explored by the many who attended.

The main development on the organisational side of things was our registration for GST. This had become necessary as the choir's turnover has risen above the registration threshold.

Committee
President: Lliane Clarke
Vice President and Artistic Director: Michelle Leonard
Secretary: Pepe Newton
Treasurer: Chris Robinson
Librarian: Georgie Cropper
Committee: Miriam Poole, Richard Goodman, Paul Raciborski, Melinda Beck

Accompanist
We were fortunate to have Ben Burton continue as our accompanist this year.

Section Leaders
Sopranos: Suzanne Blythin and Lliane Clarke
Altos: Miriam Poole and Pepe Newton
Tenors: Rhys Hardwick Jones
Basses: Chris Robinson, Richard Goodman and Jim Fleming

New Singers

The following singers joined LEC for the first time this year: Ella Alexander, David Allen, Stu Annels, Jessica Atkinson, Rod Barltrop, Robyn Blainey, Vanessa Burrow, Lara Burton, John Carter, Jennifer Cover, Imraan Daniels, Mike Dunkley, Michelle Dunn, Kate Edney, Liz Efinger, Mark Elder, Graham Georgeson, Catherine Hastings, Jane Hunt, Patrick Hunt, Jasmin Islam, Pam Ladd, Judy Lee, David Lewis, Renée Mahoney, Lyndel Markey, Alexandra Mowday, Stephen Nall, Larisa Okhrimenko, Tom Paige, Patricia Pearse, Richard Pittman, Cate Poynton, Gillian Ramsay, Jane Robinson, Mary Shannon, Tim Smyth, Gemma Thomas, Warwick van Ede, Alex Warner, Janet Widmer and Xanthe Wills.

In Memoriam

Vale Peter Durie (1945-2014)

Peter passed away on 7 September 2014 only a few short months after he was diagnosed with a major illness. Even more sadly, he survived his wife, Monica Valenzuela, by only two weeks leaving a distraught family and friends.

Peter sang with both LEC and Ristretto during 2013, arriving at most rehearsals on his trusty bicycle. When his health deteriorated suddenly, he was unable to continue into 2014, although he was in the audience for our S concert in June. Peter was 69.

Vale Paul Roy (1939-2014)

Paul passed away on December 10, 2014 from complications arising from a fall while travelling in Europe.

A LEC stalwart from 2008 until 2011, Paul was one of those rare beasts: a quiet bass!

Choir was a recreational outlet following his "retirement" from a long career as a much-loved paediatrician. He was responsible for founding the first children's renal unit (at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Camberdown) in 1978, after overcoming strong opposition from the medical establishment and government. Read Paul's SMH obituary here.

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