The show opened with members of the choir taking up random positions amongst the audience and, if I recall how conductor Brian Wismath put it, everyone sung the first piece, Immortal Bach, at their own pitch and tempo. It was a cool way to open, and mesmerizing to hear from all around me.
There’s conductor Brian. The last time I saw him and Vox Humana was actually the first time I saw him and Vox Humana. He was in the choir as they joined Video Games Live for their second performance in Victoria (called “Bonus Round”) in 2011.
I was accredited to shoot that show, as well, and have a photo of Brian and the rest of Vox Humana singing under a projection of a Tetris game. It’s a hilarious, small world.
I was drawn completely in by the name — Vox Humana — which means human voice in Latin (of course) but, for whatever myriad reasons, I never actually followed up to catch any of their shows.
Then, the opportunity to shoot their final show of the season was presented to me, and I very gleefully snapped it up.
I can’t tell you how happy I was to have landed this gig. I find choral music enchanting. I find choral music in a church mesmerizing. But I found the combined talents of these two choirs — in a church, no less — nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Now, that’s a phrase which is often used hyperbole-ly, but that is 100% what happened to me when I heard their unlisted encore, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
It starts with two solo voices and gradually builds to include the full ensemble but, when the line, “It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah” hit, the combined power of all those voices was at full volume and popping up octaves like rockets, and my arms and jaw went slack as I stopped shooting and took in the moment.
While that momentary cessation of being a concert photographer was the result of being overwhelmed by sheer musical magic, I did intentionally take one song “off” to sit and enjoy: Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei.
It’s a favourite piece of mine, but I’d not heard it from a choir before; I’ve always enjoyed William Orbit’s version (albeit a custom 4:57 edit of mine), with the occasional guilty pleasure of the Ferry Corsten remix.
Immediately following the performance — and I mean immediately; I’ve never felt more like a human salmon swimming upstream trying to get from the back of a church to the front while everyone else is egressing — I stood atop the two-step stepladder I brought — carrying that also complicated my trip to the front — to shoot promo photos of both groups, then made my way to another concert that night, Hallelujah on my mind.
The performance was incredible, and has inspired me to pretty much Deadhead Vox Humana for their 2016–2017 season. They’re gonna perform at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in September! They’re gonna sing about spacey things!
All thanks to my rockin’ Rocktographer photografriend Lindsey Blane for loaning me her Canon 5D MkII for this shoot while my trusty 70D was in at Misty Shutters Camera Hospital for a blown shutter.
Check out the entire album of this show on Vox Humana’s Facebook.