Songs soar to church's new celestial heights

Performances by Igitur Nos are notable for the care with which the music is researched and the pleasing match of soloists, accompanists and ensemble. Founding musical director Matthew Stuckings formed the group in 2003 to share his passion for sacred choral repertoire with like-minded musicians and Canberra music lovers.

The ensemble also tours to join choirs for particular celebrations. Sunday's concert treated lovers of the Brahms' German Requiem to an intimate chamber version of this monumental work. Patrons would have appreciated the distinct improvement that the venue's removal of the old cork tiles made, enabling concerts of this complexity to be heard with greater clarity.

Underpinning the performance was the accompaniment by the ANU's Alistair Noble and his brother Colin. The two perform regularly as a piano duo in other cities, so it was a treat to hear them together in Canberra.

Sunday's concert was also a public baptism for the new All Saints Yamaha grand piano, and the Nobles demonstrated the possibilities of the piano within the acoustic of the church with their expertly synchronised playing.

Soloists Raphael Hudson and Pamela Andrews gave excellent performances. Hudson's powerful interpretation of Lord, Make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days inspired definition and renewed energy in the choral singing. His voice is a rich, expressive baritone and Hudson's interpretation of the solos evoked the joyous piety that throbs within the gravity of the lyrics.

Pamela Andrews approached the music without haste, establishing a contemplative mood and enabling a spacious interpretation of the dynamic variations. A student of Louise Page, Andrews exhibits the warmth, strong technique and refined tone associated with her teacher's performance style.

Ralph Vaughan Williams's motet, Valiant for Truth, was the arresting opening work. The choir leapt at the challenge of this difficult piece and performed it well.

Written after the death of a close friend, Dorothy Longman, the work resonates with the composer's translation of the text into music of sufficient complexity to represent the battle and salvation of one of God's loyal children.

Igitur Nos handled the ultra soft dynamics and the long passages of sustained unison singing with poise, especially given that expiring for want of air is the main hazard associated with this motet.