Top tal­ent en­thralls at con­cert

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - OUT & ABOUT -

The con­cert be­gan with Domine Deus by Vi­valdi, a re­li­gious song in hon­our of Jesus. It was sung by Lois John­ston, a very ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­atic so­prano and teacher with Mar­sha Stringer at the piano and Ruth Moore play­ing oboe.

This was fol­lowed by Bist Du Bei Mir, a very un­usual sec­u­lar song by J.S. Bach who de­scribes the pain of a cou­ple drift­ing apart with the pas­sage of time.

The two songs were beau­ti­fully sung and served as a warm up to the ex­quis­ite Porgi Amor from Mozart’s Mar­riage of Fi­garo. This is a jewel of the op­er­atic reper­toire. Young so­pra­nos flirt with it be­cause of its de­cep­tive sim­plic­ity but even the best of so­pra­nos approach it with a de­gree of trep­i­da­tion.

In this so­lil­o­quy of the Count­ess,we are made aware of the in­tense long­ing for the love of her hus­band and the pain she feels be­cause of his be­trayal.

This aria re­quires per­fect legato singing, breath con­trol and un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fi­culty of ex­press­ing deep emo­tions within the lim­its of the Vi­en­nese style. Lois rose to the oc­ca­sion giv­ing us a mem­o­rable per­for­mance that set a very high stan­dard for the rest of the con­cert.

The next item, Schindler’s List, brought to­gether Lissa Cowie and Mar­sha Stringer; two very ac­com­plished mu­si­cians who have been work­ing to­gether for some time and show a real rap­port. This haunt­ing mu­sic was com­posed by John Wil­liams for the Spiel­berg film of the same name. Mar­sha and Lissa gave us, as usual, a pol­ished per­for­mance.

Our very own Olivia Sheat fol­lowed with four items: Vedrai Caino by Mozart, Les Filles de Cadiz by De­libes, Saper Vor­reste by Verdi and Waltz of my Heart by Ivor Novello.

I have not heard Olivia since she passed her grade eight singing exam and her voice has ac­quired power and flex­i­bil­ity. Her tech­nique is amaz­ing and she has real stage pres­ence. She sang all the items with con­fi­dence and con­vic­tion.

Af­ter her so­los she was joined by Lois Johston to sing Mozart’s let­ter duet. Their voices blended in a mag­nif­i­cent sound.

The last item be­fore the in­ter­val was Al­le­gro in G mi­nor by We­ber per­formed by the Aphra Trio - Mar­sha Stringer, Lissa Cowie and flautist Anna Mait­land. The com­po­si­tion is full of beau­ti­ful har­monies and was played with style and sen­si­tiv­ity.

Af­ter the in­ter­val we heard Ova­tion, the Girls’ Col­lege Choir per­form­ing this year’s com­pe­ti­tion pro­gramme for the Big Sing.

The girls, di­rected by Robin Randall, their highly ex­pe­ri­enced con­duc­tor and sup­ported by Libby Hold­away, a very gifted young pi­anist and ac­com­pa­nist, sang their items with con­vic­tion. I was very im­pressed with the bal­ance of the sec­tions and clar­ity of their dic­tion.

The next item was a Noc­turne by Gaubert per­formed by Anna Mait­land, a very com­pe­tent flautist. This was fol­lowed by the first move­ment of the Trio in G Ma­jor by Kuh­lau per­formed by the Aphra Trio. This was most en­joy­able.

Lois re­turned with three more songs and as ex­pected, her per­for­mance was im­pres­sive.

The last item on the pro­gramme was the first move­ment from the Sonata in D ma­jor by Ruben­stein.

This is one of his early works and clearly shows the in­flu­ence of Men­delssohn. The per­for­mance by Lissa and Mar­sha was su­perb and was a fit­ting end to a mem­o­rable con­cert.

The con­cert con­cluded with the pre­sen­ta­tion of flow­ers, spon­sored by New World, to all the per­form­ers.

So­prano Lois John­ston pe­forms with cel­list Lissa Cowie at St Andrew’s Church (file photo).

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