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Celeste Lazarenko, centre, and members of the Australian Haydn Ensemble (The Catholic Weekly/Helen White)

The Australian Haydn Ensemble is bringing to life the classical text Stabat Mater from Italian music composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

Stabat Mater is most well-known to Catholics for its long tradition as part of Good Friday services and the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is a hymn that contemplates the sorrow of Mary, standing at the crucifixion.

The hymn, written in 1736, is one of the most well-known compositions of the 18th-century Baroque-era sacred music known as an oratorio – a grand musical rendition derived from biblical narratives and religious themes that utilises a soloist, choir and orchestra.

The ensemble’s founder and artistic director, Skye McIntosh, said the piece is “something that many people can connect with one level musically that also has a deeper level for others spiritually”.

“Sacred music in the Baroque style was very important in the 18th century and reflected the spiritual fervour of the era.

“People looked to the Church for solace and understanding and in that was this music that created a place of community.”

Alongside Pergolesi’s text, the Heavenly Sopranos concerts will open with selections from composer Johann Adolf Hasse, including Sanctus Petrus et Sancta Maria Magdalena, the story of St Peter’s reflection on his rejection of Christ.

The voices headlining the vocal tale of anguish, grief and redemption are sopranos Helen Sherman, a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of music, and Celeste Lazarenko, who most recently lent her voice to Mozart’s Idomneo with Opera Australia.

They will be accompanied by an orchestra of period instruments and a replica Baroque-era chamber organ.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble will perform across Sydney, regional NSW and Canberra from April 7 until April 16. The final concert, at Sydney’s City Recital Hall, will be livestreamed through The Australian Digital Concert Hall program.

Details: Australian Haydn Ensemble.


Haydn Ensemble brings Stabat Mater to Sydney (By George Al-Akiki, The Catholic Weekly)