Friday, 19 November 2010

Samuel (Sure on this shining night) Barber

Not sure if anybody realised that 2010 is the centenary of Samuel Barbers birth. There is an interesting article about his life and music in today's Guardian (19th November) by the British pianist Leon McCawley
You can read it at

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Over the moon with singers’ night shift

Valentine Singers were in nocturnal mood at Barnados Church on Saturday with a programme of music and words focused around the theme of night.

Nocturne included a cappella and accompanied vocal music, piano solos, and readings by members of the choir.

The varied items explored aspects of the night – its atmosphere, sounds and colours – as well as some of its more illicit activities, as in Kipling’s familiar poem, A Smuggler’s Song, expressively read by Pat Pretious.

Musical director Christine Gwynn drew well-controlled performances out of her singers, particularly with the lush harmonies of part songs by Elgar, Barnby and Sullivan, where tuning and blend were at their best.

A set of six vocal Nocturnes by Mozart showed off the choir’s potential for drama, charting the phases of a passionate love affair with plenty of vocal colour and dynamic range, as well as attention to the Italian diction, which was commendably clear. This was also notable in the choir’s delightful rendering of Vecchi’s Fa una canzona, which opened the concert.

Among the readings, I particularly enjoyed The Night Mail, W. H. Auden’s word-picture of the mail train’s journey with its precious cargo of letters. (Hard to imagine anyone writing a similar poem about The E-Mail!)

Soprano Clare Gailans and pianist Tim Smith gave a spacious and compelling performance of Britten’s Nocturne from On this Island.

And, for me, the Highlight of a pleasing evening’s entertainment was Smith’s eloquent account of Debussy’s Clair de Lune. It transported me from a hard pew and a damp chilly Ilford into the ravishing French moonlight.


Reviews of other concerts can be seen here

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The first outing of our promotional banner
on the grass area outside Barnardos Church