Thursday, April 22, 2021



Composed by David Lang

Luminescence Chamber Singers

All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie, 18 April


Reviewed by Len Power


The key word in the latest concert by Luminescence Chamber Singers is ‘Passion’.  The main work presented, ‘The Little Match Girl Passion’ is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 story about a poor young girl who freezes to death while trying to sell matches to people walking by who ignore her.    The American composer, David Lang, noted the similarity between the suffering of the young girl and those who took no notice of her plight and the format of Bach’s ‘Saint Matthew Passion’ which set the passion of Christ against the neglect of onlookers.

The work was first performed in Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2007 and won Lang the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music.  It is regularly performed in the United States but has only rarely been heard in Australia.


Luminescence Chamber Singers performing in All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie

It’s a very atmospheric work, somewhat austere, and its appeal is in the overall atmosphere it creates rather than as an emotional experience.  The five singers, AJ America, Veronica Milroy, Rachel Mink, Jack Stephens and Dan Walker gave it a very fine performance.  The clarity, timing and balance between their voices were outstanding, producing a multi-layered sound that, at times, made it seem like there were more than five singers on the stage.

The first half of the program also had a Passion theme focussing on the neglect of onlookers in the face of anguish.  Music from the 16th and 18th centuries by de Victoria, Casali, Gesualdo, De La Rue and Handl implored us to see suffering and not ignore it.  The works were well chosen and sung with great skill.  De Victoria’s ‘O Vos Omnes’ was especially haunting and beautifully sung.

The choice of works for this concert with a Passion theme was especially apt just after Easter.  The Luminescence Chamber Singers excelled in their performance of these challenging works.


Photo by Peter Hislop


This review was first published in the Canberra CityNews digital edition 19 April 2021.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.

‘Theatre of Power’, a regular podcast on Canberra’s performing arts scene with Len Power, can be heard on Spotify, ITunes and other selected platforms or at