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Old Testament Tune

IN 1847, composer Felix Mendelssohn conducted the first performance of a revised version of his renowned work Elijah. Leading an orchestra in the first violin chair that day was a highly regarded musician and composer named George Perry. 

This month, Darwin choir Vocalective performs the iconic oratorio (work with a religious theme) led by Music Director Michael Loughlin – who happens to be Perry’s great, great, great grandson. 

By Kate Conway

This isn’t the first time Loughlin has unearthed a family connection in historical musical greatness. Back in April, Vocalective presented the world premiere of a lost work created by Loughlin’s late father, celebrated Australian-British composer George Frederick Loughlin. After that discovery, Loughlin kept digging, this time on his mother’s side, and that’s where he found the Perry/Mendelssohn connection. 

“It’s quite an emotional feeling, to think that he knew and worked with the composer … his work in that oratorio was significant because he was the leader of the orchestra. To think that he worked with, and probably shook hands with, Mendelssohn is quite extraordinary … it’s quite special for me,” Loughlin says. 

Through soaring strings and evocative melodies, the dramatic work tells stories from the Prophet Elijah’s life detailed in the Old Testament. He performed miracles such as bringing a young boy back to life, ending drought and famine, as well as preaching – at times with war and fighting – the will of God. 

“A lot of them are quite violent … there's lots of death and destruction in these Old Testament stories and Elijah's life is like that,” says Loughlin. 

“Mendelssohn, he was a genius, and he was able to musically depict some of these things Elijah was doing.” 

The storytelling is reinforced by lyrical vocals, with the choir commenting on the action similarly to a Greek chorus. Vocalective's talented choir and orchestra are joined by four exciting soloists, featuring Melbourne's David Eckstein in the demanding title role, highly regarded lyric tenor Henry Choo, Canberra-based soprano Keren Dalzell and Darwin’s own mezzo, Fiona Wake. 

Contrasting stunning chorales and arias with delicate moments of divine contemplation and action, the mastery of Mendellsohn’s work expertly portrays the drama of the blockbuster worthy plot. Witness Vocalective take the stage at the Italian Club and tackle the spectacular masterpiece with their signature flair. 

Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn 
WHEN SAT 23 SEP | 7.30-10PM
COST $45 | CONC $38 CHILD (U18) $20

Photos: Tim Nicol Photography 

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