Sunday, 8 May 2011

Clyst Valley Choral Society and St David's Singers give a double performance of Mendelsssohn's 'Elijah'

three of the soloists . . .
Bass, Julian Rippon
Soprano, Janet McDonald
Tenor, Christopher Hunt
(all appearing soon at Poltimore)
It is now a familiar feature of the concert calendar that Clyst Valley Choral Society will prepare a major choral work and perform it twice within twenty four hours. First they give an evening performance at St Margaret's Church, Topsham, on a Saturday, and then a matinée at Holy Trinity Church, Exmouth, at 3pm the next day. A ticket gives access to either concert - or both!
The performance of Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah on Saturday 30 April was one which members of the audience would have been only too keen to see again.
Sally Bull led a very competent ensemble of instrumentalists. The strings were very clear and firm with lovely support from the woodwind. Rhiannon Morgan's oboe playing was particularly lovely, not forgetting flautist Angela Puddick and, playing the clarinet, Phil Bonser - whose last collaboration with Janet McDonald was such a success. (That concert, 'Springtime is Coming' will be repeated in aid of the Poltimore House Trust on Friday 17 June, under the title 'Shepher on the Rock'. Scroll down the May Concert Listings for details.)
On the other side of the stage Chris Gould and Ben Lund-Conlon provided a very small, but essential and very effective, brass section. The stirring sound of Ben's bass trombone was particularly noticeable at the points of high drama - together with Connor Ward's timpani, with Mark Perry's organ playing to complete the sound..
Holding everything together from the rostrum was the familiar figure of Paul Stock, who had prepared a real treat for us all.
. . . and the mezzo soprano:
Carolyn Harries
(appearing at the Barnfield)
The part of Elijah was performed by one of Devon's outstanding bass baritones, Julian Rippon. Standing in the pulpit to sing, he was a most impressive figure - and his voice was perfect for the part, and very impressive. Nearer to Earth the three other soloists sang wonderful arias too. Janet McDonald and Christopher Hunt are regulars with Clyst Valley, but we were also treated to the marvellous singing of visiting opera mezzo soprano Carolyn Harries - a very special treat. The soloists moved around from time to time, at one point leaving the church by the back door and reappearing to sing from the opposite side - to great effect. The point at which Janet stood behind the audience to sing was a very special moment - not what we were expecting at all!
And throughout it all the main focus of attention was the choir, drawn from two local choral societies. Their choruses were full of joy and excitement - especially when Elijah does manage to call down fire from Heaven! It was a wonderful collaboration and, well worth mentioning, one of the choristers had a moment to shine. Soprano Louise Knightley joined Janet for some arias and proved to have a very beautiful voice too.
This was a very powerful work presented as it should be, with zeal and enthusiasm. The vocal and instrumental music was impressive and never failed to keep the audience riveted to the action. Well done to everyone. A superb performance.

Clyst Valley Choral Society
If you want to know more about the Clyst Valley Choral Society and its work, or would even be interested in joining in the fun, Janet McDonald not only sings soprano, she is also the Secretary of the Society. You can speak to her in person (01392 271858) or read details on the Society website:

Poltimore Opera Gala
Janet, Julian and Christopher will be appearing for an 'Opera Gala' at Poltimore House on the evening of Friday 8 July this year. Booking is advisable for this concert which will be very popular, with many coming for picnics in the grounds before the concert. As with other Poltimore concerts, tickets are available by post: cheques made out to 'Poltimore House Trust' should be sent to Poltimore House, Summer 2011 - Opera Gala, Poltimore, EXETER, EX4 0AU. Enquiries welcome: 01392 248938 or email, Watch concert listings and for further details.

International Opera Singers in Concert
Carolyn, meanwhile, will be appearing at a gala performance in the Clifford Room at the Barnfield Theatre in Exeter on Friday 20 May. (That sounds like a great night out, after a day at the Devon County Show!) The headline, 'International Opera Singers in Concert' gives us some idea of what to expect. In addition to local 'international opera star', Carolyn Harries, the other international singers will be soprano Monica Sawa, tenor Nicholas Buxton - and yet another great soprano, Margaret Aagesen Hughes. There will be an evening of highlights from operas by Handel, Verdi, Puccini . . . Need I say more?
Details from the Barnfield Box Office (270891 10am-4pm)

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