An attendance of close on seventy gave a rapturous reception to the performances of Rosie Cooke, Cally Youdell, Fiona Hickey, Niall Kinsella, Robert Nottingham, and Fraser Wilson on June 29th.
Hearing the lovely mezzo soprano voice of Fiona Hickey for the first time I was specially moved by her ‘Ave Maria’ by Caccini (1551-1618). Later I played Sumo Jo singing the same piece and Fiona’s was every bit as good. She began her programme with ‘Voi che sapete’ by Mozart, followed by a Michael Head song, then Schubert’s lied ‘Die Junge Nonne’ which ends with plaintive Allelulias. Next she charmed us singing the traditional ‘She moved through the fair’ with exquisite Celtic accenting. The rest of her pieces included Bizet’s ‘Habanera’, Lerner & Leowe’s ‘I could have danced all night’ and Goddard’s ‘Angels guard thee’. To conclude, in the twilight of the church she gave us two romantic pieces: Molloy’s ‘Love’s old sweet song’ with, to me, a wonderful top register for a mezzo, then singing directly to her father (seated near the front) Puccini’s ‘O mio babbino caro’.
Cally and Rosie gave us an exciting’ Laudamus te’ by Vivaldi and the interaction between the voices was beautiful. Next, Cally soloed in Schubert’s ‘Seligkeit’ showing off her lovely top register. Then a real contrast called ‘Five eyes’ by Armstrong Gibbs about three street cats and their antics, one presumably having lost an eye – this was sung very amusingly by Fiona. Cally, Rosie and Robert combined with Fraser at the piano for Mozart’s ‘Soave sia il vento’ followed by a very lovely rendition of Ivor Gurney’s ‘Sleep’ sung sympathetically by Cally with a haunting piano accompaniment. This song sounded as if it had been written in the past thirty years, but no – it was composed around 1925. Rosie’s final solo was Handel’s beautiful ‘O sleep, why dost thou leave me?’ This was very beautifully sung, using her wonderful range and artistry to great effect. Then Robert Nottingham took us to sea in Stanford’s ‘The old superb’. Three of the nine verses start with the line- ‘So Westward Ho ! for Trinidad and Eastward Ho! for Spain , With a hundred ‘Ship Ahoys a Day’ Robert, who should have had a tankard of beer in one hand, used his fine baritone voice to get the story over.
Indeed the whole evening was about beautiful voices and all six artists combined in a lovely version of ‘Steal away’ arranged by David Blackwell and later in an exciting arrangement of the spiritual ‘Every time I feel the spirit’. This was a concert that everyone there would have been happy to pay at least 15 euro for, instead of the €5 we were charged; but as Fraser told us, events such as these will be on-going, fulfilling the great musical tradition of Saint Bartholomew’s.