Testimonials and reviews

We love receiving feedback from clients and audience members thanking us for bringing a bit of soul and joy into their lives.  Below is a selection of them plus some great reviews..... 

 



"Went to Petersham Bowlo to see Dynes and the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation.

One word....A M A Z I N G!!!!!! The energy, the harmonies, the arrangements, the vim, vigour and vitality is awe inspiring. wow.. how it lifted my spirits!!! Thank you.. you amazing singers... how wonderful you are!! wish I could sing... you have such fun!!!"


Audience members at Petersham Bowling Club - June 2017
 



"Glorious, glorious...my heart is filled with sweet sweet music, my soul is uplifted...thanks to you for your sweet gift of song...
"What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. My soul has been lifted!"


Audience members at Petersham Bowling Club - June 2013
 



"Emanuel School invited the CafĂ© of the Gate of Salvation to attend our annual School Music Camp in 2011. COTGOS provided a interactive gospel singing workshop for our 160 Music Camp attendees, all of whom were absolutely engrossed by the opportunity to engage in collective music-making. It was the ideal start to our Music Camp, setting the tone for the coming four days. Students left the COTGOS workshop excited, energised and equipped with an infectious enthusiasm for singing. Some of our students, particularly our senior boys, continued to sing pieces learned as part of the COTGOS workshop for MONTHS following Music Camp 2011".

Adam Majsay, Director of Studies - Emanuel School - May 2011

 

 
 

"the songs and the voices were extraordinary, but what really touched me was how joyful the choir was! They all looked like they were having SUCH a great time, and their joy was contagious - I left on such a high!"

Audience member at Notes-Live Newtown August 2010
 



What a fabulous event in Kiama on Sunday!
 
Everywhere I went today, I was stopped and congratulated on your performance and wonderful entertainment provided to us here on the South Coast. Dennis truly did a wonderful job of inviting the correct mix of choirs and the audience were truly delighted and were so enthusiastic - you could have carried on singing all night for us!

Thank you also for your very generous monetary donation from the sale of your CDs on Sunday night.

Once again - thank you so much for your generosity to our fundraiser and kindest regards.

Charmaine Wheatley
Australian Volunteers International
July 2010



Just to say a huge thank you to you and the team for last Thursday night's event.  The sound in the room was absolutely wonderful and the hair on the back of my neck was raised.  You really are a talented bunch and I wish that we had more time to get in a few more tunes.

Mary Cotter
Deputy Director - Walkley Foundation
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
November 2009 


 
 
I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to each of you for your enormous contribution to the Sydney Food and Wine Fair last weekend. The quality and diversity of entertainment was a marked improvement on previous years and both your time and your talent is greatly appreciated.

Heartfelt thanks once again to you all.

Vicki Gordon
VGM Media & Marketing
October 2009

 


I just wanted to say what an amazing concert you did at st Matthew's Church in Manly yesterday on behalf of Manly-Manado. It was truly stunning to hear such wonderful voices. And as important is that you all looked as though you were having fun - smiling, laughing, joking. Fantastic concert, thanks for supporting Manly-Manado.

Michael
Audience Member at Fundraising Concert
October 2009


 
 
 
Being part of such a large and powerful choir was awesome. I felt like it didn't matter too much how I sounded as the room was so full of energy and resonance. It stretched me as a singer just to keep up; to project and to hit the right notes and to sustain my voice. I will be back for sure!


Nadine
Gospel Workshop Participant
August 2009

 


Tim and I would like to pass on a HUGE thank you, for the truly special sound and atmosphere you created at our wedding ceremony.  We have had nothing but RAVE reviews, everyone was totally blown away and said it was one of the best services they have ever been to (because of you guys).  It was everything and more that Tim and I had imagined and will be something that we will remember for ever. It set the tone for the whole night and filled everyone with a buzz and warmth - which is a gift you have as a group, and must be very proud of!!  We can’t thank you enough for making our day so special, making it our own and giving it that point of difference!! Please pass this onto the entire Choir and let them know just how much we LOVE IT!!


Cheers - Clare & Tim  
May 2009

 


Thanks so much for your performance at the festival.  I've had nothing but the BEST feedback from those who were there.

Belinda - Kangaroo Valley Arts Festival
May 2009 



We write to thank you for your wonderful contribution at the Allowah Presbyterian Children’s Hospital celebrations held at the Presbyterian Ladies’ College on Saturday 23 May 2009.  Your music was lively, exciting and honoured God.  Many people in attendance commented on how much they enjoyed the programme on the day and how exciting and vital the ministry at Allowah is. One writer stated: “Congratulations on a great afternoon of celebrations on Saturday.  It was a wonderful combination of reverence and fun.  I especially loved the balloons, flowers, and the band!” One of the mothers commented that she appreciated how respectfully the children and the situations of the families were treated, as she said sometimes it can be glossed over or treated superficially.

Thank you again for being there and please know that your contribution was valued and appreciated. In all of this we wanted these celebrations to honour our great and awesome God and we are sure that you would agree that this was achieved on this occasion.

Colin Llewellyn - CEO Allowah Children's Hosptial
May 2009



Please thank everyone for a terrific gig.  I thought the choir looked and sounded fantastic.  The repertoire was all thrilling, and the mix of soloists was a constant surprise and delight.  Hope to see y'all around the traps again soon.

Alison - Mullumbimby
March 2009



REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE DURING OUR NEW ZEALAND TOUR

Aren't we fortunate to be on the receiving end of Tony Backhouse's eclectic and diverse musical influences?  The director of the Sydney a cappella gospel choir Cafe of the Gate of Salvation studied black gospel music in the United Sates and was impressed with the sound of congregations singing with such absolute depth of conviction. 

The 26-member choir sang last night in Nelson's cathedral as true believers, with the fervour of those who sing for the pure love of it, regardless of their own spiritual paths.  During the performance from their repertoire of black gospel, often original Backhouse compositions, the choir members swayed and clapped their hands.  I noticed during Lucy Hall's singing about Goin' Up Yonder to Ring Them Bells that the audience couldn't help but gaze upwards, following the uplifting harmonies.  Lost in the Heavenly Light was a favourite, with Backhouse's moving tenor lead.  Nicolle Lane's solo in Jesus Will Pick You Up did just that, and her professional performance showed the presence of real soul.  With their vocal energy, the singers transported us to a black gospel church in Alabama for those few moments.  The sincerity of tenor Wi Herewini's Maori translation of O Matua, during which he greeted local elders, created a touching and special highlight of the evening. 

Audience members commented that they felt truly happy and uplifted by the music they experienced. 

Barbara Stowe - Nelson Mail
April 2007



ABOUT THE LAUNCH OF OUR THIRD CD 'DELUXE' AT THE BASEMENT

I was almost converted on Thursday. Perhaps it was the rapture on the swaying faces of the 35-voice Cafe of the Gate of Salvation choir, or the thrilling power of their steepling harmonies and spire-sharp rhythmic cohesion.  Not converted to Christianity, you understand, although the uplifting impact of gospel music may be a pathway into faith, but to a cappella singing.  This choir has worked its magic on me before, but such is my natural antipathy to the form, I need to be reconverted each time.  The problem is that unaccompanied singing is often the choice of those incapable of interacting with real musicians, with the worst excesses of vocal mannerism and tasteless arranging being the cornerstones of its mediocrity.  Like some unlikely resurrection, the choir rises out of this tomb to rouse audiences with a thoroughly infectious blend of enthusiasm, precision and startling voices. 

This performance celebrated the release of the choir's third album, modestly titled Deluxe, which is its first release in nine years. In that time the choir's director, Tony Backhouse, has been so busy composing that nearly all the material flowed from his pen, purpose-built for these participants.  His is a considerable talent: beyond his ability to sing in a voice that can certainly sting (even if it rasps too much to ever soothe), he has forged, sustained and then raised this amateur choir to an impressive level.  Then he can write songs as strong as There is a Rose.  This number featured the soulful voice of Jo Maunsell vaulting across a lyric about finding peace within, a sentiment all the more poignant at a time when a hideous parody of morality threatens to engulf us all.  Lisa Spence's strapping voice blasted and swooned over Save Me Some Grace and Only a Prayer, providing contrast to Judy Tihany's rendering of her own whimsical Make My Day in a voice as soft and sweet as butterfly cakes. 

About a third of the choir members featured in some way or another, but to single them out for comment rather misses the point: three dozen voices singing together this well is a wonderful endeavour, and, despite my reservations about a cappella, seems an especially benign activity right now.


John Shand - The Sydney Morning Herald
May 2004


 
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