On Good Friday, 2014, the Brisbane Chamber Choir gave the Australian premiere of Responsoria (Book II) by Richard Toensing.
This was the second book of Richard Toensing’s Responsoria and it stands as the central arch of a much longer work – a complete set of Responses for Holy Week. Written for six-part chorus, accompanied by piano, metal percussion (glockenspiel, tubular bells, tam-tam), and double bass, it comprised an hour of music from this vast musical landscape.
The work sat within the tradition of Responsoria – sombre, rather than dramatic, and with little virtuosic display. The texts from the Gospels and Psalms, focused on the crucifixion, and the music reflected the emotions relating to this solemn theme – terror, anger, pathos, suffering and loss – in a manner both restrained and compelling.
In the amazing sacred space and acoustic of St John’s Cathedral, in a sense the music ceased to be performed and simply was. The space, light, architecture and occasion combined to produce a sense of timelessness. The Brisbane Chamber Choir was humbled to provide this opportunity to experience this music as part of a broader sense of the artistic, the spiritual, and the reflective in all of us.