London Mozart Players with Newbury Spring Festival Chorus at St Nicholas’ Church on Saturday 7th May. Review by FIONA BENNETT
In 1999 an advertisement appeared in the Newbury Weekly News asking local altos and tenors to join a newly formed choir – the Newbury Spring Festival Chorus. They had already started rehearsals for The Seasons of Haydn, I managed to sneak under the audition radar and became one of the very first second altos in the choir.
Unfortunately, my musical schedule collided this year and I was unable to attend the opening night of the first May Spring Festival since 2019 with my many singing buddies, but I was asked to review the concert and so, for the very first time, I was “up front” at night.
The London Mozart Players, under the expert and imperturbable baton of Stephen Barlow, accompanied the choir so well; the balance was perfect and the combined vocal sound hit the bottom of St Nics with aplomb.
As always, Mark Eynon and his team attracted some of the best talent from the classical music world and our soloists, Sophie Bevan (soprano), Ema Nikolovska (mezzo), James Way (tenor) and Julien Van Mellaerts (baritone) made catch our collective breath more than once during the evening.
I sang behind Sophie several times, so hearing her glorious voice from the audience was an absolute treat and a highlight of Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de Confessore was when the choir joined her in the most beloved movement, Laudate Dominum, c was truly magical. Ema’s magnificent voice, effortless technique and stunning plunging intervals in Mozart’s Il Tenero tormento from Lucio Silla earned her a rapturous ovation from the delighted St Nics audience.
The orchestra was in top form; delightful oboe playing, brilliant trumpets, lush horns and trombones complemented the top-notch string section whose own spotlight moment, the Divertimento in D major, really hit home. A skillful, neat and beautifully Mozartian performance; chamber music at its best.
I could write several more pages about the opening night of the Newbury Spring Festival 2022, but unfortunately I’ll have to leave it here.
A brilliant orchestra, a world-class conductor, top soloists and our very own festival choir, expertly prepared by choirmaster Tom Primrose. It was a truly inspiring evening, we all left St Nics floating on a cloud of Mozartian magic and I have never been prouder of the Newbury Spring Festival Chorus.