70th Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival, Adelaide: 10–20 January 2019 70th AIVCF, Adelaide: 10–20 January 2019

Festival concert: Northern lights


Northern Lights presents works by incredible Scandinavian and Baltic composers Arvo Pärt, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Jan Sandström and Ola Gjeilo, as well as works by Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, and Jonathan Dove.

The major work of the concert is the wonderful Magnificat by Kim André Arnesen, a talented young Norwegian composer. A recording of Magnificat in Nidaros Cathedral was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2016, and we are excited to feature the Australian première of this spine-tingling work.

We’ll also be performing Pärt’s Magnificat, a work of sublime purity and austerity. Ešenvalds’ warm, glittering Stars captures the beauty of the composer’s native Latvian skies, while Gjeilo’s Northern Lights evokes a sense of fear and awe for Norway’s winter. Sandström’s radiant, mystical arrangement of Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen is a modern choral masterpiece. Seek Him That Maketh the Seven Stars is Dove’s joyous setting of Amos 5:8 and Psalm 139, complemented by a sparkling, complex organ part. ‘Soneto de la Noche’ and ‘Sure on this Shining Night’ from Lauridsen’s much-loved Nocturnes make their festival reappearance. Finally, Seal Lullaby, featuring Whitacre’s signature use of soaring, soothing harmonies, transports us to a ‘slow-swinging sea’ under a northern sky, where a baby seal is sung to sleep by its mother.

These beautiful, lush pieces will be performed in the warm acoustic of St Peter’s Cathedral, one of Adelaide’s best classical music venues, accompanied by the newly-restored cathedral organ.

Musical director

We are thrilled to introduce Peter Kelsall as the festival’s musical director.

Peter Kelsall completed his Bachelor of Music degree in 1989 at Adelaide University studying piano with Zelda Bock. He commenced organ studies with Christa Rumsey in 1987 and completed a Graduate Diploma in Performance on the instrument in 1993. In 1998 he completed his Masters Degree in Music Theory. He also holds a Certificate in Church Music from the Flinders Street School of Music TAFE and has undertaken studies in choral conducting with Carl Crossin.

As an organist Peter has given recitals in the Adelaide Town Hall, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Pilgrim Church and at various locations for the Organ Music Society of Adelaide for which he was a committee member for a number of years. He has played with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on many occasions, including performances of Saint Saens’ ‘Organ’ Symphony, Holst’s Planets, Handel’s Messiah, Mahler’s Symphony no. 2 and the 2010 Adelaide Festival performances of Ligeti’s opera Le Grande Macabre and Mahler’s Symphony no. 8. He has also played on a number of occasions with the Adelaide Art Orchestra.

Peter has performed with many Adelaide choirs, including the Adelaide Chamber Singers, Syntony, Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus, Graduate Singers, Corinthian Singers, Elder Conservatorium Chorale and the Adelaide and Flinders Universities Choral Societies.

In 1995 he was appointed Organist and Choir Director at Pilgrim Uniting Church in the city where he continues to build on this church’s strong musical tradition. Pilgrim has recently developed a tradition of ‘importing’ some of the world’s best organists to Adelaide to play for services and to give recitals on the church’s organ (South Australia’s largest). As a result of this initiative Peter has had the opportunity in recent years to work with highly distinguished organists including Thomas Trotter, David Goode, Benjamin Bayl, Clive Driskill-Smith, Simon Preston, John Scott and Daniel Roth.

In December 2017 and January 2018 Peter directed the Choirs of Pilgrim Church and Christ Church North Adelaide on their English Cathedrals Tour. The Choirs sang Evensongs in some 10 English cathedrals, including Lincoln, Durham, Salisbury, Gloucester and York Minster.

An honorary life member of the Adelaide University Choral Society, he has been their Musical Director since 1997. With AUCS he has conducted a wide range of repertoire, from Palestrina to Pink Floyd and most things in between.

Peter is in demand as an accompanist and has been associated with a number of choirs in this capacity. He is also a piano, organ, and music theory teacher and works as an accompanist and music tutor at Walford School.