Dawn Chorus Playlist

Dawn Chorus Playlist February 29, 2020

One of the wonderful experiences I had when visiting Australia was to go stand outside the famous and iconic Sydney Opera House before sunrise on Sunday morning and experience the event they call Dawn Chorus, which I discovered even some locals are unaware of. The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs perform Sunday mornings on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, and they begin singing even before they come into view on the steps, to an awe-inspiring effect. I had thought that perhaps this was an event they do regularly, but looking into it further it seems I was simply very fortunate to be in Sydney right when this was happening. Below you will find videos of pieces that were performed at the event – not videos I took on the occasion with those performers, but others that happen to be on YouTube. Being in the southern hemisphere for the first time may have helped, but I expect that even for locals the experience of having the sun rise to a chorus of human voices singing would be impressive, inspirational, and deeply moving.

Below are a handful of the pieces that were on the program for the day. I hope you enjoy them to even a small extent as much as I did. Listening to them on your computer or other device won’t be the same experience, but the music itself is quite wonderful, as I expect you’ll agree.

Finally, here is one of the pieces from the program the melody of which will be familiar even to those who don’t listen to choral music much if at all. It is Edward Elgar’s famous “Nimrod” from his Enigma Variations, here performed with the lyrics Lux Aeterna.

Music plays a very important role in my life in general and my spiritual life in particular. Choral music stands out from among all the other instruments somehow – not because of the words, but even when I don’t understand them…

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  • John MacDonald

    Certainly not my taste in music (I’m more top 40 and retro 90’s), but I do understand that some people like it. I think aesthetic experiences are more reflective of personal taste than objective realities. I grew up near Niagara Falls, for instance, and so was used to tourists “ooing and ahhing” about it, though it was just background scenery for me. The reverse is true too. Curious visitors came to see the famous Heraclitus, but were disappointed to just see him warming himself by the stove. In response to their disappointment, Heraclitus said “:even here, gods come to presence (Aristotle reports in De partibus animalium, A, 5, 645 a17ff.).” A Chianti really does it for some people (like Dr. Hannibal Lecter), but others not so much!

    • John MacDonald

      One last thought: In the same way, two different people can find the same Sudoku puzzle to have the characteristics of invigorating and challenging for the first person, and boring for the second person.

  • gloriamarie

    When I see “Dawn Chorus” I remember the late and lamented Robert J. Leurtsema, who hosted Morning Pro Musica on WGBH Boston for decades.

    At 6 AM, 7 days a week, he played recordings of birds as he himself was a birder. On April 1, however, it was cuckoo clocks and other such things.

    He made getting up at 5:30 AM to take the 6:30AM train to Boston so much more bearable.