ASTRA returns to concert life on Saturday 25 June 2022!

Details of further concerts will be added to this page shortly.

Saturday 25 June, 4 pm and 7.30pm (90minutes duration)

Church of All Nations
(corner Palmerston & Drummond Streets, Carlton)


“To sing on the Streets”


Music of Hanns Eisler, Margaret Sutherland, Elisabeth Lutyens

with new works by
George Dreyfus, Kym Dillon, Barry McKimm, Andrew Byrne, Richard Sanderson

The Astra Choir & soloists
with Niels Bijl (saxophone), Alexander Meagher (percussion),
Kim Bastin & Joy Lee (pianos)
conducted by John McCaughey

Music exists among calamities of many eras. Sometimes it gave expression to them, sometimes its composers engaged with the social struggles against them. None more so than Hanns Eisler, whose works in this program span from the streets of 1920's Weimar Germany to the post-war years and collaborations with Bertolt Brecht in the USA and East Germany.

George Dreyfus, dean of Australia's composers, has joined the Scot Thea Musgrave in the rare ranks of musical history who continued to write new works well into their nineties. Since 2019 he has composed a choral trilogy reflecting on specific catastrophic events in Nazi Germany, from which he escaped with his Jewish family, arriving in Melbourne at age 11 in 1939. The first two works are heard in this concert, recalling a failed action by a Jewish Communist group in Berlin in 1942, and the failed assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944.

Themes of historical darkness and light, of mental states and refugees, are taken up in the other new choral works of the concert by Kym Dillon and Barry McKimm, and in Elisabeth Lutyens' 1942 setting of W.H. Auden's "Refugee Blues". The multiple rhythmic energies of outdoor drums in Eisler's street choruses extend into new solo percussion compositions by Andrew Byrne and Richard Sanderson.