Avondale vocal ensemble’s personal connection to album of new pieces
A first commissioning and six original compositions mark the musical maturity of an Avondale vocal ensemble as it celebrates the launch of a fifth album.
Each song on The Promise Songbook has a personal connection to The Promise. The ensemble’s commissioning and placement of two of the songs at the centre of the album honours its name and mission. “The Promise (How Long, Lord?) Parts I and II” by Avondale Jazz Ensemble Director David Pudney are based on words from 2 Peter 3:3-9. Part one will become the ensemble’s signature piece, says Artistic Director Aleta King. “It’s an opportunity to be more overt about our ministry. Our name bears a unique and profound message of hope.”
King first heard Pudney play the song after visiting friend and mentor Alan Thrift in the last hours of his life. Thrift is a former head of music at Avondale College of Higher Education. “I sang the vocal part while David played. It was a poignant moment, contemplating the significance of God’s promise of life in the face of death.” Thrift died shortly after the visit but the song provided comfort. “When words failed me, I found peace through singing.”
King is a former Musical Director for the London Adventist Chorale, a role that led to the inclusion of two other songs, “Saints, Are You Ready To Go?” and “Surely The Lord Has Been Here,” on the album. Keith Kirk, who sang tenor in the chorale, composed the latter to encourage others to do the same. “Hearing your piece recorded and knowing it will go on to have a life of its own, there’s no better feeling for a composer.” Kirk is pleased the song appears on The Promise Songbook. “This is the first time an ensemble from Australia has recorded one of my compositions.”
Associates of King contribute the two other original compositions. Aidan Rosa, a student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where King is completing a Doctor of Musical Arts, is a longtime friend of the ensemble. “I’ve often entertained the thought of writing a piece for The Promise, so when Aleta approached me, I was particularly enthusiastic.” Rosa’s “Ego Sum Panis Vivus” opens the album. The Lake Macquarie launch will be the first time Rosa hears the song performed by a vocal ensemble.
Christopher Sainsbury is a former lecturer in composition at Avondale Conservatorium. Now lecturing at the Australian National University’s Canberra School of Music, he heard The Promise perform live with Australian vocal ensemble The Song Company and felt inspired to compose a piece. “‘The Sphinx’” has endeared itself to the ensemble,” says King. “Christopher’s pedigree as an Australian composer is impeccable, and he wanted to compose something for us. That’s a real compliment.”
Arrangements by another Australian vocal ensemble, The Idea of North, also appear on The Promise Songbook. One, “Irish Blessing,” closes the album. The Idea of North introduced this arrangement to The Promise during an ensemble-in-residence masterclass in 2011.
The Promise dedicates The Promise Songbook to Peter and Valerie Duncan. They fund the Duncan–Kranz Choral Scholarship, which each member of the ensemble receives. The dedication is in memory of Peter and Valerie’s parents, Charles and Sue Duncan and Alfred and Ethel Kranz, who throughout their life “mentored people with promise.”
The Promise Songbook is The Promise’s fifth album. It follows Jesus: HIStory, a recording with Avondale Jazz Ensemble of Pudney’s original compositions that reimagine the stories of the Gospels, Give Thanks, also recorded at Morisset Hospital Memorial Chapel, Faithful and a self-titled debut recorded in 2006.
Purchase The Promise Songbook
The Promise Songbook is available from the Avondale Online Store.Avondale Online Store