Applause disrupts African Flow
As an introduction to African Sanctus, Jambo Africa lit up the concert hall with an explosive display of the frenzied interlocking poly rhythms of African drumming.
African Sanctus, written by British eccentric David Fanshawe, is a fusion of African and Western European elements.
In keeping with previous performances around the world, a recorded message by Fanshawe blessed the event. Specifically, his disembodied voice, evangelical in tone, spoke of the “recorded spirits enshrined in the music”.
In general, the atmosphere was tense, given the complex co-ordination involved in such a multi-dimensional performance. It included slide projections of African images, a massed choir (in this case the Queensland Choir and 300 impressively engaged young choristers from local secondary schools), an operatic soprano, pre-recorded music and an ensemble of percussion, bass and lead guitar by Stephen Standfield and Jim Chapman, as well as Jambo.
In fact, African Sanctus was a brave choice for conductor Kevin Power. It’s an exotic mix that plays with juxtapositions of live and recorded music notoriously difficult to synchronize.
Power, calm and authority shaped the exhilarating swells of choral layers, formidably loud interjections of shouted text and blazing, searing stretches of emphatic unison singing.
Special moments included Love Song as well as a poetically sensitive piano evocation by Tahu Matheson. He underscored the poignant strands of an east Sudanese cattle song with a five-stringed bazenkop harp.
In the Crucifixus the lilting, gently flexing voice of Ugandan singer Latigo Oteng entwined with soprano Sally McHugh’s soaring. High-pitched strains against the splashing. Watery counterpoint of a tropical rainstorm.
Additionally, Et in Spiritum Sanctum featured big, drifting, choral cushions against a chattering chorus of croaking swamp frogs.
Unfortunately, applause after each section interrupted the flow and momentum of the work. Moreover, it resulted in a response not nearly appreciative enough to reward the extraordinary efforts presented.
The Courier-Mail Friday, May 21, 2004