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Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil by Chamber Choir Ireland

It took me long enough to settle into this country and let myself do what I used to do in Hong Kong— going to concerts. While believers go to church to connect with God, I go to concerts to connect with my desire, ambition, and devotion to music. It is very important for me because it reminds me of my intentions, and not to be drown by the overwhelming everyday obstacles and anticipatory anxiety.

Choir has been a big part of my music career. I sing in them; I conduct them; I write for them. Listening to Chamber Choir Ireland in the Clonard Monastery is an immense gratification. Being the only regularly funded professional choir in the country, Chamber Choir Ireland could show off its singer assets by having different singers to solo different passages. As an ensemble they demonstrated ravishing phrasing and breath control, diction, even in this huge reverberance Monastery. Rachmaninov’s writing allows the choir to flex their vocal flexibility, vocal range, and range of dynamics. (Yea maybe not as much for the sops, but definitely for the basses). Under the hands of Paul Hillier the singers, who are equally professional and knowledgeable, delivered a marvellous version of Rach’s All Night Vigil. Also, a shout out to the Chorus Master, Iris Oja, who herself gave an impressive solo in the 2nd movement.

It was my first time to listen to a professional choir in a church of this size. This Monastery itself is a symbol of the history of Belfast. Clonard Monastery is a Roman Catholic church designed in early French Gothic style by Ludwig Oppenheimer in 1911 and had undergone a four-year multi-million refurbishment in 2008-2012. The church is located at a spot in Belfast that used-to-be a border line between the Catholic Falls and the Protestant Shankill during the Troubles. In 1969, when political and religious tensions were high, many houses were burn to the ground and the neighbourhood could have been compared to a battleground.

[Saw the organ on my way out. I gotta listen to it sometime in the future!]

[The beautiful Clonard Monastery.]

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