Go behind the scenes of AGC’s performance with Amy Shark at the Sydney Opera House
In July this year, our Sydney choristers were invited to perform a stripped back, acoustic version of ‘Everybody Rise’ with ARIA Award winning artist, Amy Shark. The performance was to be filmed at the Sydney Opera House as part of the new ABC live music series, The Sound. The Australian Girls Choir sang accompanying vocals to bring a new, atmospheric depth to the piece.
For this week’s Latest News, we’re taking you behind the scenes of the project! We caught up with Jane Hennessy, AGC’s National Production Coordinator, who was our music director for this performance.
Creating the choral arrangement
The first step was to develop the choral arrangement for this piece. Due to our diverse repertoire, one of the gifts of the AGC is our choristers’ versatility and how confident they are with different vocal timbres and music styles. The vocal style for an Amy Shark song will sound very different to a performance with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Because of this it was important for the girls to become familiar with Amy’s music, vocal quality and unique sound and her style of delivery before we began any rehearsals.
Amy recorded an acoustic version on a voice memo for us, pausing along the way to describe the sound she envisaged for the Sydney Opera House Bennelong performance. It was fantastic for the girls to be able to hear Amy’s thoughts before meeting and working with her. We then created a chord structure and some layered parts, but prepared our choristers to be flexible the following day when they got to sing with Amy in person. Part of music collaboration is making the artist’s vision a reality and working together to achieve what they’re after in the moment.
After a short Zoom rehearsal the previous evening, we arrived at the Opera House early to sing together, face-to-face on the Sydney Harbour foreshore. We then moved to rehearse in the foyer of Bennelong Restaurant. The whole space is made of stone so the acoustics were divine! As we used this space to rehearse and develop ideas we had a lovely surprise. In the silence at the end of a run of the song, we heard a voice say, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to cry”. Amy Shark had arrived to the venue during our rehearsal. What a special and unforgettable way for us all to meet.
Filming the performance
The performance itself was filmed at sunset in the stunning Bennelong Restaurant, inside Sydney Opera House. The restaurant had been cleared of all furniture to accommodate this special performance. As the sun began to set and the colours inside the Opera House started to change, we had sixty minutes to capture the performance, running it many times and trying different musical shaping, different camera angles and making sure we captured the magic. It was an incredible opportunity for our choristers to observe Amy and her team collaborate musically between each take.
Watch the performance
Amy recently shared on social media, “Privileged to play a very special version of Everybody Rise inside the Sydney Opera House for The Sound. Thank you to the Australian Girls Choir for joining me, you are all so damn incredible. I really love this version and I hope you do as well x”
Watch the performance below and be sure to check out the full episode of ‘The Sound’ (Episode 3) on ABC iview.