The Australian Contemporary Chorale was founded in 2001 by director Hildy Essex to encourage staff and students of the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Music to compose new choral works. At the time there was no choral ensemble dedicated exclusively to the performance of new Australian music, a gap in this prestigious university and music faculty that Essex felt needed to be filled. Many of the choir's committed and highly musical young singers are studying music at the University of Melbourne and have an interest in composition. The choir regularly workshops and performs works by established composers such as Brenton Broadstock, Stuart Greenbaum, Linda Kouvaras and Katy Abbott as well as other up-and-coming composers. Brenton Broadstock's Stations of the Cross - Via Crucis, offers a contemporary musical interpretation of the last moments of the life of Jesus Christ, from his trial to his burial and resurrection. Taking up a long artistic tradition, the piece follows these fifteen events in sequence. As each station represents an event in Jesus' procession to crucifixion, Stations of the Cross - Via Crucis provides a musical narrative to match these events. Many musical compositions dedicated to these "Stations" span the centuries. However, there has been but a small contribution to the musical tradition of the Stations of the Cross in contemporary Australian composition. Broadstock's composition emerged from his contribution to Roland Peelman's 14 for The Song Company in 2004. One of fourteen Australian composers to participate, his completion of the fourteenth Station (Jesus is laid in the tomb) inspired the creation of his own work, Stations of the Cross - Via Crucis. Using simple but moving English text, this work follows the fourteen stations in a complex choral arrangement. Broadstock uses the young unaccompanied voices of the Australian Contemporary Chorale to create an emotive narrative of Jesus' final moments. Linda Kouvaras ...to enter the dream which includes all dreams: three settings of texts by Chris Wallace-Crabbe In...to enter the dream which includes all dreams, Linda Kouvaras features the words of renowned Australian poet in a delicate choral setting. Composed in January 2000, during an artist-in-residence position at Bundadon, the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Estate in New South Wales, the piece is based on the text of three poems by Wallace-Crabbe. From his Selected Poems (1956-1994), Kouvaras adapts the poems Why Do We Exist, The Well-Dreamed Man and An Elegy to a musical setting specific to choir and accompanying piano. Stuart Greenbaum An Arc of Love An Arc of Love is an unaccompanied choral setting of a poem, Wedding Frames, written by Melbourne poet Ross Baglin. The music was written specifically for Hildy Essex and the Australian Contemporary Chorale, who have performed and premiered a number of Greenbaum's choral works. Brenton Broadstock I Had A Dream (G Schirmer, Australia) I had a dream..... was written in memory of Australian composer Michael Easton, who died suddenly in 2004. It is written for a capella choir SATB and was first performed at the Port Fairy Festival, where Michael was the artistic director, in October 2004, by the Australian Contemporary Chorale, directed by Hildy Essex. Brenton Broadstock remarks about the piece: "When I first contemplated a memoriam work for Michael I had been recently reminded by the great speech by Martin Luther King - I have a dream - that looked to a better future of freedom, social justice and equality for all. The words for Michael's piece look to the past and reflect on whether any person's life has meaning. Was it just a dream? Did it have importance? Did I contribute to making the world a better place? They are the sorts of questions I would want to ask about my own life and be comforted by the fact that I am part of life, and that I will be remembered!"
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