Our performance of “Ein deutsches Requiem” 30 July 2017

As we sang the final “Selig”, and our conductor Dr Kathleen McGuire raised her arms in triumph, the Star Chorale’s performance of “Ein deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms on July 30th drew to a successful close. The sustained rapturous applause from our near-capacity audience at the Melbourne Recital Centre indicated that we had ably presented this marvellous, but vocally challenging work, to a high standard which the audience fully appreciated. Happy faces were noted in the audience as presentations were made.

The Brahms Requiem is a beautiful musical work with lovely quiet parts like “How lovely are Thy Dwellings” balanced by powerful sections where choir and orchestra are going full blast as in the fugue in Part 3. It is very demanding for the choir, with subtle changes in tempo and dynamics. It is also tiring for the voice, because the choir is singing for most of the work, and needs to summon up its vocal reserves for the last couple of sections. The soloists and orchestra were a tremendous help for singers. In fact great teamwork was displayed between conductor, orchestra and choir.

Our conductor Kathleen McGuire displayed magnificent masterful leadership. The choir greatly appreciated her friendly, thorough approach in our rehearsals. It was a delight to sing under her tutelage. Kathleen’s detailed notes on how to perform the work, communicated to us verbally or on TeamApp, were faithfully written into our scores so we knew what was required in the concert. Her concert cues were very clear, and of course we were watching her carefully for them!

The choir is most appreciative of the excellent work of our rehearsal pianist Sue Goessling. Sue told us Brahms is her soul-mate, and this was evident from the obvious joy she had in helping us learn this great musical piece.

The Star Chorale was honoured to perform with our two fine soloists Shauntai Batzke (soprano) and Lucas de Jong (baritone). Shauntai’s singing was lovely, touching the deepest emotions of listeners. She is very popular with the choir as she is a beautiful, down-to-earth person. Lucas, who has performed with Opera Australia and other international opera companies, gave us a mature, polished performance. We appreciated his friendly and cheerful approach in our rehearsals.

The orchestra was assembled by Jenny Stengards, and they played beautifully under the leadership of Concertmaster Edwina Kayser. The singers were helped greatly by the players, as there was usually at least one instrument playing each singer’s part.

Singing in German was daunting for many singers to begin with, but the task was made much easier by Hannah Goller’s clear pronunciation notes and helpful comments to the choir.

At an enjoyable after-party our choir President Di Vale thanked the many people who contributed to a successful concert. Of course the Star Chorale thanks Di for her excellent leadership and sterling effort in ensuring that the preparation for the concert was thoroughly organised.

The Star Chorale now looks forward enthusiastically to its Christmas Concert on 3rd December. We will sing John Rutter’s “Magnificat”, together with a collection of carols.

Undoubtedly we can say “ Ja, der Geist spricht.”

— Jeff Castles