Toad Lane Concerts: tuneful trio of troubadours Elaine Marsden, Anne Butterworth & Stephen Taylor

Date published: 21 September 2021

The pandemic has had a disastrous effect on the music industry. Our local scene suffered catastrophically with shows, choirs, bands and concerts silenced and it is only just beginning to resume.  

The TLC concert series at St Mary in the Baum provides a platform for local talent, as well as visitors, and the borough has had a thriving amateur music scene for many years. Performers on Wednesday 15 September represented some of the best of that.

Freelance music teacher Anne Butterworth has been active on the local music scene for over thirty years. She has taken many leading roles in opera, operetta and is a member of Peak Opera who perform at The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate and Buxton. She is managing director for Woodhouses Church Operatic Society and is also an experienced flautist.

Anne's experience was reflected in her items: Morricone’s Nella Fantasia, Parisotti’s Se tu m’ami, Folk song settings Watching the Wheat arranged by Hopcyn, and Sweet Suffolk Owl by Elizabeth Poston; I’m a stranger here myself by Kurt Weill.

Retired telecommunications engineer Stephen Taylor has been on the music scene in the North West for over 30 years. He has musically directed many amdram groups and performed many leading baritone roles. Steve also currently plays saxophone in three concert bands and is MD for Pendle Community Orchestra. He similarly gave us glimpses of his repertoire.

Following Mozart’s Se vuol ballare and Britten’s beautiful setting of Down by the Salley Gardens, Steve turned to the musicals with Not while I’m around Sondheim, the thigh-slapping Bless your beautiful hide by de Paul/Mercer, and the poignant I won’t send roses by Herman.

The two singing thespians joined together in operatic duets by Mozart, Lovland’s You raise me up, and a Pythonesque finale with The Song that goes like this from Spamelot by Eric Idle.

Pianist and busy accompanist Elaine Marsden taught for several years at Meanwood and Norden Primary Schools in Rochdale and for Rochdale Music Service and is a recipient of the title “Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year.” As well as accompanying throughout, she decided to change from poacher to gamekeeper and sing herself to a backing track, Let’s go and live in the country by Richard Rodney Bennett, a topical lockdown choice perhaps?

An enjoyable concert with something for everyone.

Rochdale’s weekly midday music – the Toad Lane Concerts happen every Wednesday at 12.30pm at St Mary in the Baum. Entrance fee is £6. No refreshments available at the moment, but the venue is Covid-19 secure.

Dr Joe Dawson

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