Top talent enthralls at concert
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).