Sunday, 16 March 2014

Laudamus Te from Mass in C Minor by Mozart

Costa Coffee at Sandbach M6 !

I'm on my way south to choral workshop and conduct a performance of the Faure Requiem, as I may have mentioned during the last week. It also seems that yesterday's post was number 500 ! I can't say that when I started this a few years ago that I imagined I would actually get this far ! It makes me realise how much vocal music there is out there, and how much of it I teach........

So what piece of vocal music will I choose to write about for post number 501 ?

Sitting here in sunshine and drinking good coffee (Well not quite as good as Isle of Skye Coffee you understand !) it has to be a piece which reminds me of this ambience I think. Sun, coffee, cake, Wiener Schnitzel etc........

The last time Inner Sound gave concerts in Vienna one piece among many remarkable performances jumps out at me. Rhona Colwell ( Google Island Opera )is now in her third year at the RWCMD. Then she was a whipper snapper on the first rung of her career as a singer. We chose an ambitious aria from Mozart's Mass in C Minor for her solo, the Laudamus Te. A large piece with lots of coloratura runs and all the scrummy signature vocal gymnastics we associate with Mozart at his most joyous. We started learning this around six months before the tour, so it had time to settle and bed down in her voice. I knew at the time it was a big ask but this particular young lady was, and still is best when faced with tough challenges and the aforesaid 'big asks'.

The first concert was in the miraculous St Peterskirche on the Graben in the centre of Vienna, a place both daunting and utterly inspiring for performer and conductor ! With a somewhat fluttering heart I watched her stride out to the centre of the alter area, look confidently across to the pianist, nod her head in readiness and set off like a steam train. It was one of those turning point moments for her. All the previously difficult runs, during which we had put in carefully worked out breathing places came and went, she soared through them all with breath to spare. She flipped up to the top notes and down to the chest notes with complete control and finished like a stallion winning the Derby. My wide open eyes met the equally wide open eyes of her then fiancé and now husband, from across the huge expanse of the chancel steps in thrilled disbelief, and smiles swept across our faces as the applause rang around the magnificent basilica.

For me as a teacher it was a great moment, for her as a singer it was total affirmation, and for Tom, her fiancé a small miracle !

These moments come and go, but never diminish. Listen to the Laudamus Te, and indeed the whole Mass in C Minor, it is beyond magic.

The all grown up Rhona and Tom courtesy of Island Opera

Rhona as the 2009 wronged fiancé in Trial by Jury

How time flies when one is enjoying oneself !

(For those who know, look at the small faces behind !!)


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