While the world with its traffic noise, bright lights, crazy music and worries about climate change and the war in Europe created a ferment of worry in the streets of Adelaide, the audience bathed in rosy glow which suffused the Adelaide Town Hall were a world away, listening to the clear voices of the Escalonia de Monserrat.
Young boys wearing a white soutane underneath a simple black chasuble, processed up the centre aisle chanting Germians germinabit, just as the Benedictine monks have done for centuries. The audience was transported to the Catalan in Spain and back several centuries.
Monserrat has a long musical history, going back to the middle ages, and the music that followed in this concert reflected this beginning with Inperayritz from the XIV century but it moved forward to music from later centuries until the finale of the first half of the concert. These were two pieces by Bernat Vibancos: an arrangement of Schubert’s Ave Maria in the minor key which was wondrous, followed by Salve Regina, which provided a sharp contrast.
The second half of the program was given to Catalan folk songs, lively at times, thoughtful at others, with the last three songs from El Bestiolari being the liveliest of all.
These songs did show another side to the music of Catalan, and were sung with precision and spirit, but I would have liked to have something more of the traditional music, perhaps by Monteverdi or Mozart.
There is only so much music that can be sung in an hour!
Throughout the choir sang with that pure quality that Dame Nellie Melba is reputed to have said she envied. They were very ably accompanied on the organ, and later piano by Mercè Sanchis. The conductor, Llorenç Castelló is also the Director for the Escolania de Monserrat, and is carrying on the music tradition he received there as a child.
This was, indeed, a small taste of their musical culture, bringing a message of beauty and peace.
Adelaide Festival of Arts Adelaide Town Hall 3-5 March.