Monday, August 7, 2023


Luminescence Chamber Singers

Drill Hall Gallery 6 August


Reviewed by Len Power


J.S. Bach’s passion for numerology and the frequent encoding of his name in his music, is no secret.  The BACH motif is perhaps the most famous musical cryptogram, but it was by no means the first.  From Josquin de Prez to Heinrich Schütz, composers have weaved their own name into the very fabric of their music.

Anna Freer - photo: Joanna Paluch

Joining with guest artist Anna Freer (violin/soprano), the Luminescence Chamber Singers, AJ America (mezzo soprano), Lucien Fischer, (baritone), Veronica Milroy (soprano), Alasdair Stretch (bass) and Dan Walker (tenor), performed a number of works with these musical cyphers.

Commencing with “Das ist je gewisslich wahr” (This is a faithful saying) a 17th century work by Heinrich Schütz, the singers presented choral works by Guillaume de Machaut, Adrian Willaert and Josquin de Prez which ranged from the 14th to the 16th centuries.

Two works by Bach followed and then Anna Freer played four movements of his Partita No. 2 in D minor on the violin.  Between these movements, the singers performed more choral Bach works.

Then the singers and the violin of Anna Freer combined to present a new arrangement by Christoph Poppen and edited by Dan Walker for violin and voice of the final movement of the Partita, the Ciaccona.  The concert ended with another choral work, “Selig sind die toten” (Blessed are the dead), by Heinrich Schütz.

The overall performance of these works was exceptional.  Haunting, ethereal and even dream-like, the singers were remarkable for their clarity and the depth of colour in their vocal combinations.

Anna Freer’s fine soprano blended very well with the singers and her violin playing of the Partita movements was accurate, sensitive and a highlight of the concert.  Other highlights were the male voices singing with a touch of humour “Ma fin est mon commencement” (My end is my beginning) by de Machaut and the electrifying moment in the Ciaccona when Veronica Milroy’s beautiful soprano unexpectedly rang out above the other voices.


This review was first published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 7 August 2023.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at