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Heavenly Handel - Queensland Performing Arts Centre

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Simply the best

This concert began with a risk.

Alexandra Oomens's pitch perfect voice began, up in the organ loft, soaring over the Concert Hall, and then the Australian Voices and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra joined in the glorious "Sing Ye Unto the Lord", from Israel in Egypt.

Iain Henderson's light lyric tenor began "Waft Her Angels" from Jeptha. At times he and Mr Handel parted company a little, but Iain really came into his own in "Sound an Alarm" from Judas Maccabaeus, with a delicate and moving accompaniment from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Anna Dowsley, the young mezzo soprano, knows how to make an entrance, and she reaches out to communicate beyond the spotlights. A slight movement of the head, a lift of an eyebrow, a curl of the lip are all that it takes for her to set a mood, and she conveyed anger, derision and power in her Scherza Infida from Ariodante. This young lady has a wonderful voice - quite in the league of Joyce DiDonato, and at times possibly surpassing her. Watch out for this name. If the gods are willing, with that voice and that stage presence, she is destined for greatness.

Oliver Gooch does not hang around. His tempo for the Water Music suite was demanding, but quite beautiful.

Bryony Dwyer gave us a sparkling, joyous "Let the Bright Seraphim". Again, words like "world-class" came to mind. Just wonderful.

Anna and Bryony, who studied together, and clearly have a great rapport, decided to have fun with their feisty, flirtatious, and fun version of "Se Teco Vive", followed by a powerful and evocative version of The Ode to St Cecilia's Day.

This concluded the first half, which had been superbly chosen to build to the climax of St Cecelia's Day, and left us in great anticipation of the second half.

Nor were we disappointed. How many of us have imagined ourselves conducting the Coronation Anthem from Zadok the Priest? The skillful young musical enthusiasm of The Australian Voices showed that their strengths extend to traditional pieces, and their power soared over the orchestra. Only someone with a heart of stone could fail to have been moved by the majesty of the moment.

Contrast came with the lyrical Where'er You Walk, which was a perfect fit for Iain Henderson's voice. As steals the Morn showcased the delightful duet of Bryony and Iain, and it was a pleasure to see Iain visably relax as their voices blended, and their smiles reflected their pleasure in the music.

The Queen of Sheba arrived, courtesy of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, at a cracking pace. Just marvellous. Anna Dowsley brought many a tear close to the eye with her evocative Ombra Ma Fui. Her subtlety and sensitivity belied her years.

Anne and Bryony shone in Venti Turbini from Rinaldo – power, passion and precision married to memorable music.

The Australian Voices caught the beauty and the joy of the Music For the Royal Fireworks, sweeping us away with their professionalism and their transparent love of singing.

While the orchestra came to its crashing climax fireworks exploded within the auditorium. We were not expecting that, but the impact was appropriate and fitting.

As the standing ovation died away – the entire capacity audience standing -- Oliver Gooch said "This will come as no surprise" and we stayed standing for an exultant Hallelujah chorus, orchestra, Australian Voices, soloists, and audience celebrating a splendid climax to a wonderful concert.
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Why? World Class Singing : simply the best
When: 11th April
Where: Concert Hall QPAC
Cost: $72
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