Rowen Fox has long held the ambition to write a major choral composition based on the life and work of Albert Morris, an inspirational amateur botanist and conservationist from early 20th century Broken Hill. Morris observed the devastation caused by shifting sands in the denuded landscape, and the detrimental impact this had both for residents of Broken Hill and for the local native flora and fauna. He pioneered the re-vegetation of the land to create a natural barrier to the wind blown sands and to bind the bare soil. Morris’ legacy extends well beyond Broken Hill having inspired regeneration activities all over Australia and further afield.
The Covid isolation of 2020 provided Rowen with an ideal opportunity to start work on this project and Phoenix Choir commissioned a number of chorusses from him. We started rehearsing some of these (by zoom) in late 2020 and in Term 2 of 2021 we are now back rehearsing together as a choir to pull together a concert of these early compositions. From what we can see so far the writing is unmistakably Fox – the strong melodies and accessible writing which our audience have much enjoyed in his previous compositions – but with an infusion of Broadway show-biz which adds to the dramatic impact of the music. The music finds inspiration in Albert Morris’ struggle to tame the land and his challenge to convince the sceptical townsfolk of Broken Hill. Rowen is finishing off some additional chorusses and solo works, perhaps an instrumental overture, to make a rounded introductory concert for this work.
The concert of these early pieces is scheduled for the Phillips Hall in Blackheath at 5pm on Saturday 24 July. The choir will perform with local professionals – string quartet, clarinet and soloists – to bring out the colour of the finished work.
Tickets for the concert – click here
Phillips Hall, Blackheath
Adult $35, Concession $30
Followed by Launch Party
Saturday 16 October at 3pm
The longer term aim is that Albert Morris will become a full Oratorio, a modern work with its roots in 20th century and contemporary choral work and musical theatre but very much in the tradition of Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Phoenix Choir hope to have the opportunity to work with Rowen to premiere the full work, in due course. Included in your ticket, we will follow the concert with a launch party to celebrate what Rowen has achieved to date and talk about his plans for completing the work and the full orchestration. This will be an opportunity to learn first-hand about Rowen’s plans and how we can all help to bring his vision to fruition.