Christmas in Australia was a definite theme of this misnamed “Proms” concert, which was also prettily peppered with the more traditional stuff. The Adelaide Art Orchestra and the Adelaide Vocal Project and conductor/ compere/ singer/ arranger/ Timothy Sexton were the cornerstones of the concert, with guests Rachael Beck and Andy Seymour. But it wasn’t a “Prom” – no-one promenaded anywhere – it was a sit-down-and-listen-and-join-in-occasionally concert.
Australia was there right from the beginning with a Christmas Overture which was a pastiche of W G James Carols with fragments of several others. The versatile Adelaide Art Orchestra, founded and directed by Sexton acquitted themselves well for the most part, particularly in the Overture to Girl Crazy, when they were in a familiar genre.
The Adelaide Vocal Project (another Sexton production) is capable of sounding much better than they did. They were spoilt by being badly miked and over amplified, so that any semblance of blend or balance was lost. I would have thought that sound technicians should know better.
Rachael Beck has poise, charm, looks and talent, but was also over amplified for this acoustic. Her Somewhere Over the Rainbow was one of the highlights, especially because of the fabulous, sensitive and captivating accompaniment by the wonderfully talented Dale Ringland on the piano.
Andy Seymour is a big boy with a big voice, and definite echoes of Elvis. He is capable of a big range of styles, and gave us a very nice What a Wonderful World and some cool swing. But Silent Night should never be crooned. I suspect composer Mr Gruber, and arranger of the first verse sung, Mr Govenlock were both spinning in their respective graves, as the lighting on the magnificent Jubilee organ made it loom over the company in the background reminiscent of a Disneyland castle, which was perhaps fitting.
The whole was very much Tim Sexton’s show. His prodigious talent as singer, narrator, conductor, writer of pertinent verse (With Rudd-Like Tread, though many of words were lost because of bad amplification), and particularly arranger were what made the concert happen, (even if Beethoven’s 9th shouldn’t be hacked around like that and attempted by such small forces). It was a populist and family concert, that was clearly enjoyed, especially at the spectacular finale, when as the choir sang, “…and He shall reign…” confetti rained down from the ceiling, and in the final “hallelujah!” fountains of snow-like confetti filled the entire theatre, and families went home singing.
Adelaide Festival Centre 2007 Christmas Proms
Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
When: Friday 7 December 11am & 7:30pm; Saturday 8 December @ 6:30pm
Cost: Family Package (2 adults, 2 children) $100 - additional child $25 | Adult $35, Concession $30
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or www.bass.net.au