Leadership, 150 Psalms @ Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide 2/3/2020

In total there are twelve different performances of the Adelaide Festival’s 150 Psalm series and today’s lunchtime performance is at the Pilgrim Uniting Church in the City. It was clever to move Monday and Tuesday sessions into the CBD so that workers could take some time off to attend. The Church was built in 1867.  I have seen many recitals and performances in the church over the years but to my knowledge, this is the first Adelaide Festival show there.

There are four different choirs performing the Psalms across Adelaide and today we are treated to the Australian vocal ensemble group called The Song Company.  They are lead by conductor Antony Pitts. Prior to this performance, we were given an excellent talk about Leadership by Francis J Sullivan. Francis was coordinating the Church’s response to the recent child sexual abuse Royal Commission and the crowd was enthralled by his openness in the subject.

The first song the choir performed was the 1700s version of Psalm 2 composed by Thomas Arne who also composed Rule Brittania. From the very beginning, I realised what a special occasion it was to be here and hear the incredible voices of the choir singing together in this acoustically perfect venue. To obtain perfection in their craft this ensemble would each use tuning forks between songs to ensure they were singing to the right pitch.

The third song was a version of Psalm 21 from 33-year-old William Knight who was sitting in the audience today. The choir would move positions from piece to piece so that they could be near other singers doing the same parts as them. All the singers were wonderful today but special attention should go to soprano Amy Moore who really lifted proceedings with her beautiful high voice. An interesting side note is the countertenor of the group is Max Riebl the brother of Felix from the Cat Empire. Max also created the Cat Empire logo.

After the last song was performed the applause was dutifully rapturous and after their bows, the conductor Antony Pitts embraced Tide Visser in the front row who was in attendance today. The 150 Psalms project was created by Tide and has been performed in Utrecht, New York, and Brussels in the last three years.

The Song Company’s last performance for this project will be with the other three choirs at the Adelaide Town Hall on Tuesday and this performance was sold out months ago such is the popularity of this project.

Adelaide Festival Review By Richard De Pizzol

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