Sounds Heavenly

St James Cathedral will host Barrier Reef Orchestra's 'Sacred and Secular' this August.

Townsville’s Barrier Reef Orchestra (BRO) will host a guest conductor for their Sacred and Secular concert at St James Cathedral this August.

Lieutenant Colonel Craig Johnson will take a break from his official duties as Commanding Officer of the Australian Army Band to lead the Orchestra, organist Justin Ankus and mezzo soprano Tanya Christensen in two performances, inspired largely by the venue itself.

Lieutenant Colonel Craig Johnson will conduct the Barrier Reef Orchestra’s ‘Sacred and Secular’ performance on 18 August 2018. IMAGE: Supplied.

“The venue was forced on the Orchestra, although they’re very pleased that it’s ended up this way, because of the refurb of the Civic Theatre,” said LTCOL Johnson.

“The change to the big cathedral presented a couple of opportunities in terms of what we could program for it: having a big cathedral organ, of course, suggested a number of organ and symphonic works and the one that won out was the Saint-Saëns Symphony and that’s really very good. The theme would be quite familiar because Billy Joel nicked it for one of his songs. Those of a discerning nature will probably pick that out.”

While the performance venue may seem intimidating to some, particularly those who are not regular church-goers, LTCOL Johnson was quick to say they shouldn’t feel unwelcome.

“I really like doing works people know – people like what they know – so the works will be familiar, and I think the venue is a lovely cathedral: it’s a pleasant spot to be, the sound is gorgeous,” LTCOL Johnson said.

“Justin will do some works from Handel and he’ll accompany the orchestra with a few things. And Tanya is taking care in some way of the secular part because she’s singing The Habanera from Carmen and she’s doing some things from The Messiah as well. So the nature of the venue suggested what we might play and we just came up with a title that sounded good.

“Concert-goers should expect a really lush sound from the orchestra and the addition of the organist and singer is just fantastic.”

Barrier Reef Orchestra will present Sacred and Secular at St James Cathedral on 18 August. For information, visit the What’s On Townsville website.

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