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Two stellar a-capella groups have set a cracking pace for November.

The Song Company performed their final water concert, Ship to Shore, accompanied by guitar maestros, Leonard and Slava Grigoryan.

A creative arrangement of Cockles and Mussels contributed a large basket of shellfish to the feast-laden table on stage. The percussive qualities of chopping cucumber, grinding pepper over salad, and tap-dancing mugs of whiskey provided colour to this feast of sea shanties and other songs.

Sea shanties, the work songs of sailors, may feature everyman Johnny who signs up for a life of high adventure, gains a lady in every port, “and winds up twenty years later with scurvy, only one leg and a dangerous fascination for mermaids”.

The men rollicked through Blow Boys Blow and Barrett’s Privateers, while the tap-dancing mugs featured to great acclaim in the ensemble piece, Whiskey, Johnny.

On-shore, the women left behind poured out their anger and grief in Waly, Waly and two versions of Shallow Brown.

Highlights – and there are many in each Song Company concert – included a poignant Surabaya Johnny by soprano Anna Fraser, a passionate fado Nao digas mal dele by soprano Susannah Lawergren and the Grigoryan brothers, and guest director Ruth McCall’s humorous arrangement of Bobby Shaftoe.

Emotional colour and superb rhythm flowed from Leonard and Slava’s fingers with the spotlight on nuanced guitar interludes, Jongo (Brazil), June (Tchaikovsky), and Distance (Grigoryan).

The Sydney-based company have not advertised a 2013 subscription programme for Brisbane, however, at least one concert (to be determined) will be offered.

Brisbane Grammar School’s Great Hall provided a contemplative space for Canticum Chamber Choir’s A glimpse of heaven.

Our journey traversed Eastern Europe with the harmonic colours of John Tavener’s Funeral Ikos and Arvo Part’s The Beatitudes, each glinting gold, and danced sprightly through Debussy’s France in Trois Chansons.

A trio of madrigals led to the Annunciation where the joyous voice of soprano soloist Emma Rowe soared in Ampt’s Mary the virgin. Here we received a plug for coming CD Joy to the World featuring Christmas compositions and arrangements by Sydney City Organist, Robert Ampt, sung by Canticum and the Brisbane Chorale.

The afternoon climaxed with Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere, a composition of Psalm 51 for two choirs to be performed during Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel – complemented perfectly by the afternoon glow through the Great Hall’s stained glass windows.

Director Emily Cox and Canticum are to be thanked for providing ‘a glimpse of heaven’.