Toad Lane Concerts: Voci Voices
Date published: 16 November 2021
Jonathan Ellis (piano) with Voci Voices members Elizabeth Ambrose, Simon Horsfield & Margaret Ferguson (L-R)
The curse of Covid-19 struck the all-star singing troupe ‘Voci Voices’, such that it had to perform minus one member at St Mary in the Baum on Wednesday 10 November.
Tenor Eric Cymbir was notified that he had been close to someone with Covid-19 and therefore had to isolate and be tested. This could not be done in time for the concert, so with just a few days to go the programme had to be re-jigged.
Nonetheless, sopranos Elizabeth Ambrose and Margaret Ferguson along with baritone Simon Horsfield blended superbly and produced a splendid, varied song fest for the Toad Lane Concert, with accompanist Jonathan Ellis putting in key tenor lines himself.
The troupe of classically trained singers has the City of Manchester Opera as a common background, but its repertoire extends beyond opera to evergreen classics, sacred music, jazz, and swing. Before Covid the ‘quartet plus piano’ appeared in the Buxton Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh Fringe and in 2019 the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddford concert with great success.
Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ chorus and ‘Laudamus te’ duet opened the concert in Rochdale majestically, leading to a sacred set of ‘In A Monastery Garden’ by Ketelbey, ‘The King of Love My Shepherd Is’ by H.R. Shelley, and ‘O Come Everyone That Thirsteth’ from Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
As befitting their operatic credentials, we then had ‘Soave sia il vento’ from Cosi fan tutte and the captivating duet ‘La ci darem la mano’ from Don Giovanni by Mozart.
The gang of four then let their hair down for ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ by “Fats” Waller, ‘Autumn Leaves’ by Kosma, and Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and the duet ‘Bess, You Is My Woman Now’.
The finale set of ‘Perhaps Love’, ‘Old Devil Moon’ and ‘This is the Moment’ brought the house down, demanding an encore. This moment was one to remember.
The award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. No refreshments available at the moment, but the venue is Covid-19 secure. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.
Dr Joe Dawson
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