Fields of Gold
Shoshone Love Song
I Hope You Dance
They Can’t Take That Away From Me
You Raise Me Up
How Can I Keep from Singing?
From a Distance
Songs from a Sunburnt Country [My Island Home, I Still Call Australia Home, Waltzing Matilda medley]
I’m Always Chasing Rainbows
Australian Girls Choir/conductors; Vicki King, Mark Puddy, Kate Carey, Kylie Lee-Archer, Jane Hennessy
Arrangers; Mark Puddy, Anton Koch, Mac Huff, Mervyn Warren, Bradley Ellingboe, Kirby Shaw
Matthew Carey (piano); ensemble
rec. April 2010, Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank, Melbourne
ABC 476 4060 [61:51]
The Australian Girls Choir (AGC) is a by now well established part of the country’s musical landscape. In April 2010 sixty girls were chosen to take part in recording sessions for this album of diverse songs in arrangements by a number of different musicians. There was a quintet of conductors on hand into the bargain. Mark Puddy has long conducted the AGC, whilst the project’s Director of Music, Vicki King, has also been a powerful influence on the standards now reached and maintained.
The composer of Fields of Gold is one ‘Sumner’, better known as erstwhile jazz bassist and Dowland explorer, Sting. The light, warm choral blend is delightful. The soloist here is a very stylistically aware young woman, with a fine voice. I Hope You Dance receives a neat, springy arrangement from Puddy with strings and piano supportively to the fore. Easy, peaceful listening informs Deep Peace – how very true to the essence of its title! – whilst there’s a mature rendition of They Can’t Take That Away From Me and an altogether more soulful outing on Joyful, Joyful which Beethovenians will recognise from the Ninth Symphony. Mac Huff has adeptly arranged Billy Joel’s Lullaby – a pretty song – with its fine piano part intact.
You Raise Me Up is so associated with Westlife that it comes as a pleasing surprise to hear the AGC sing it with commensurately less bombast. Bradley Ellingboe meanwhile is behind the sensitive arrangement of How Can I Keep from Singing? The roll call of appropriately selected songs continues with Morricone’s Nella Fantasia. There’s a Gospel feel to the Hallelujah arrangement and a rockier vibe to parts of the track called Songs from a Sunburnt Country which is a medley of My Island Home, I Still Call Australia Home, and Waltzing Matilda.
A disc can’t convey one of the things that the group is known for, which is choreography, but it does bring across the fine tonal blend and balance of the AGC, and also their generous warmth.
Fine tonal blend and balance and generous warmth.