Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Midsummer Memory Orchestra: Maria de Buenos Aires in Cork

Musical director, John  O Brien has been pivotal in spectacular and innovative opera productions in Cork in recent years. Pagliacci was a highlight of 2012 season and we also loved the heavy metal Dido and Aeneas for which, I gather, he also designed the sets. So we made a bee-line for Maria de Buenos Aires part of the Midsummer Festival programme at Cork Opera House for which he was part of the directorial team. On paper, the work subtitled 'A Tango Opera' by Argentinian composer Piazzolla seemed to have all the ingredients to  make it a hat trick of thrilling opera productions from this director.  And  there were indeed many enjoyable and  incredible aspects to this Maria that made it a very interesting evening  but it won't feature in my top picks of the year.  Why did the whole did not add up to the sum of the parts. Here is  my best and the rest of Maria de Buenos Aires at Cork Opera House.

The thrills:
The international ensemble of musicians performed the most amazing feats of memory and skill and as in the aforementioned productions, playing without the aid to memory of notes and moving around the stage as part of the action. Cork percussionist, Alex Petcu created the dream like mood on marimba. Ville Hiltula from  Finland added the hallmark bandoneon part. Niwel Tsumba was a lynchpin on  guitar. There were just two singing roles, both in the lower registers adding to the darkness of mood. Both were compelling, doing justice to Piazzolla's strange and beguiling score, combining traditional elements of the dance form with modern compositional techniques. Portuguese baritone, Nuno Silva had a beautiful and unusual voice and together with local girl, Una Palliser's sensuous violin lines, would have been worth the excursion alone.  The lighting  and set effectively transported us from the murky Leeside evening to a sleazy Latino waterfront bordello and the sound was perfect, amplification effective but not obtrusive. So far so sizzling. So why did it all fail to catch fire for me?

The spills
To misquote Emperor Franz Joseph-, there were just too many words.  The plot could be summed up in a few lines.  Maria, embodiment of the spirit of the tango is born in the slums, seduced by the dance, led astray by it, meets a bad end, dies and is reborn. Or something to that effect. To convey this flimsy plot we have seemingly endless declaimed monologues by actress, Olwen Fouere   in full Beckettian  mode in  the androgynous role of  El Duende, a mythical poet narrator figure. A case of too 'much a Duende  about' too little plot, for me, I fear. I did love her bar room soliloquy to Maurice Seezer's piano in the second half which reminded me a little of Peggy Lee's Is That All There Is' but less of this aspect of the production  would  have been more.

The  choreography in an effort to blend contemporary, ballet  and traditional forms resulted in the tango ingredient being somewhat decaffeinated  and not quite the central element I might have anticipated given the subtitle of the work. 
 So to sum up -seductive singing , mesmerising musicianship but too much talking and not enough tango action  on the dance floor for me from this Latin Maria but  well worth seeing .

Promotional video for Maria de Buenos Aires  from Cork Opera House in the link here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welsh Rare Baritone: Bryn Terfel at NCH

Just in from hearing  singing sensation, Bryn Terfel at the National Concert Hall. The acclaimed Welsh bass baritone appeared with the RTE Concert Orchestra as part of its' Signature Series.    Supported by the Goethe  Institute Choir , Terfel was in fine form in a programme of operatic favourites. The first half programme was the most satisfying, mixing well known Romantic arias with a rarely heard whistling aria from Mefistofele by Boito, better known as a Verdi librettist. For an opener, he had  a lot of fun with a drinking song from L'Elisir d'Amour chased by  a couple of swashbuckling arias by Guonod and Faust . He was at his best in the darker more menacing numbers and as the malevolent Scarpia made us all gasp with the chill of it all.l He announced each item with a a nugget of pertinent information in beautifully enunciated tones and there were the odd reference  to manly pursuits like farming and rugby for the lads.

The Gothic mood of murder and mayhem prevailed in the second half. The highlight was the sinister opening 'Credo in un Dio crudel' from Verdi's Othello.  I shudder even now at the memory of it.  Premiered in the same year 1887, we heard Sullivan's parody of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. 
The programme had nine arias with one encore, padded out with  by a selection of orchestral numbers, These were well executed by the RTE Concert Orchestra under conductor Gareth Jones, with a souped up trombone and bassoon section adding extra oomph  to the blood curdling mix. The programme notes inform us that the specially tuned violin for Saint Saens Dance Marcarbre is a scordatura, a delightful detail.  The solos in the Offenbach overture were beautifully played by Mia Cooper and her colleagues. Alll very good but it was  a bit overladen with overtures . It was like having several soup courses when you just want to have main course and maybe an encore for dessert. Much and all as we love the Concert Orchestra. two would have been ample and it was the singer and the  songs that drew people from all over the country on this particular occasion. 

And what a singer. Although I've long been a fan, it was my first time to see him live and he did not disappoint. The voice was wonderful of course. If they had opened the doors you would have heard the fortissimos at the bottom of Grafton St.  Superb technique combined with a powerful physical presence ( ie a hunk) totally at ease on the platform, Terfel is a performer on top of his game making it all look so effortless, a joy to witness in the flesh,  so to speak!  Attired in a black velvet smoking jacket, Bryn arrived to meet and greet the long line of fans waiting in the foyer  after the concert. 

There were good programme notes by Julian Haylock but why no translations ? This wasn't an amateur do in the village hall but a premier high price ticket event and I expected the budget to run to inclusion of texts and translations. Strangely, the opening item was bizarrely listed as 'The Force of Destiny' Overture. 

Who we met : There was a full house  and among the patrons we met  Dulcet, Waterford's own three soprano outfit. you can hear my interval interview with the girls in the audioboo, a mix of comments on the singing technique with some phoaar! noises. I enjoyed chatting to Victor and Victor, both ex cathedral choirboys and G&S fans. Their highlights were the Sullivan number and the encore, Stars from Les Mis. Broadcaster. Evelyn Grant cited the quality of his diction as the facet that sets him apart and certainly, every syllable was audible in the middle stalls. Cellist, Adele O Dwyer, host of the Tullamore Cafe Nights , had forsaken the big hurling clash in her home town to be there . 

A wicked whistling Welsh supremo and a gala evening to remember at the National Concert Hall

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On the Razzle at Garter Lane


Garter Lane Arts centre in Waterford city bring On the Razzle to the stage for a fortnight as part of their summer season .  There was much to enjoy in this in house  production of a Tom Stoppard play directed by Jim Nolan and superlatives were flying about the capacity house at opening night as patrons and punters enjoyed the sugar rush of the sweetest  of theatrical confections  after some more sombre fare earlier in the season.
Here are my top ten reasons why I recommend you go.

1 Huge Cast A cast of dozens; which in this minimalist  era of pared down casts and  of one man shows is a cause for celebration if nothing else. Supporting the excellent leads, there are loads of cameo roles. Paul Dillon as the German Man made the most of his one line.

2 The Script Tom Stoppard's witty word play.`I was amazed to discover that this quintessentially British writer was Czech born and English is presumably not his mother tongue. The witticisms, malapropisms puns and double entendres in this screwball farce come so quick and fast that you can't catch all of them. 'I shan't feel married til I've had the consommé'  'He'll alter you before dessert - he'll desert you before the altar, just two that come to mind. Much of the humour is in the main character's attempts to correct his linguistic errors maybe a relic of Stoppards own journey in language aquisition.

3 A real live brass band : A sextet of brass instruments courtesy of Waterford City Brass add a luxury element to the panoply of sound effects a la La Boheme here . My only complaint is having assembled such a resource, they might employed them to play some final bows/ exit music while they were there at all.

4 The Pipes And if cornets and euphoniums weren't enough, to top it all a bagpiper, John Stone appears in the cafe scene for a birthday surprise.

5 The Set design by John O Donoghue makes the Garter Lane stage feel like Covent Garden  with a complex plot evolving on several levels .  With one caveat , Vienna was not quite the gaudy carnival I expected with a distinction between scene one shop set and scene three Vienna street set not clearly marked.

6 Choreography.  Not too much  dancing as such but the choreography  by Libby Seward of the Imperial Cafe waiters scene was beautifully done.

7 The Acting : What a feat of memory the main roles were. Gerry Kane was hilarious as pompous word mangling merchant Zangler. Hugo O'Donovan plays  his chief sales assistant with a manic intensity, that left me a bit frazzled sitting in the front row. Vickie Dunphy as his side kick, Christopher was all wide eyed innocence. Damien McDonnell was terrific as the wily, devil may care servant Melchior . Denise Quinn played  Miss Blumenblatt with a Wildean flourish.
Other notable parts were a randy coachman , Padraig O Griofa, French maid Anita O Keeffe and Nick Bankes as a Belgian Foreigner, Rob Doherty and Ema Lemon as the lovers, Vivienne Coughlan as Madame Knorr and Lorraine Murphy as Frau Fischer, Clare Smith was the put upon maid.

8 The Venue : Garter Lane has very comfortable solid seats, with a steep enough rake to allow a great view from every seat.  the sort that don't creak and move when your neighbour crosses their legs.

9 The costumes : There was no  feeling of scrimping in the gorgeous 19th century, fin the siecle  costumes from NoMac

10 The Horse of Course: How could we not love a production with brass band and a pantomime horse. This one was worthy of Flann O Brien with the horse being part bicycle.

On the Razzle runs at Garter Lane until June 22nd

       Photo from Munster Express 14June 

Related reviews

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tweet Roundup ending June 10th June

In no particular order, some tweets that caught my eye with links to interesting articles. The links within the embedded tweets work.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reprise: An Evening of Cello & Song: Music Theatre West at Glór Ennis

Following their sell out show in November when three times the expected audience showed up to pack the foyer, Noel Lennon, director of Music Theatre West brought his winning combination of vocal, strings and his  impeccable piano accompaniment back to Glór, Ennis for another Evening of Cello and Song, this time moving into the main auditorium.

The programme, titled 'Hear My Song' was a box of musical all-sorts, well loved classics, Irish airs and showstoppers that judging by the gasps and contented murmurs that peppered the evening went down a treat with the audience. The concert opened suitably with a prelude, the well known one from Bach's G Major Cello Suite with the remainder of the trio creeping on and seguing in to a medley from Les Mis. Sublime is a word, reviewers are advised to use sparingly but it is the first word that comes to mind when attempting to describe Péter Sebestyén's playing. That and; thrilling, mesmerising and utterly beguiling!

The lyrical numbers were a delight. Fauré's, Impressionist, Apres Une Reve seemed perfect for a summer evening, a piece originally conceived for violin much more sonorous and dreamy on the deeper cello tones. A rich and expressive Mendelssohn's Song without Words wrapped us all in a great big warm duvet of sound . The steeliness in this mild mannered softly spoken Hungarian was apparent in the vigour of his attack in the fiendishly difficult numbers that best showcased his consummate virtuoso skills. Saint Saen's, Allegro Appassionato was delivered in the first half with polish and elan only to be superceded on the jaw dropping register by a a set of Paganini Variations after the interval.

Tenor, Peter O 'Donohue was recovering for a bout of illness and while not flying at full vocal throttle, there was plenty to enjoy in his contribution. The Glor auditorium has a dry acoustic for singers and the tenor was lightly amplified on this occasion Peter is currently busy working mostly in the Irish opera scene in between his farming duties. He delivered the Neapolitan numbers with charm and panache, adapting his style to give the traditional Irish airs a more appropriate lighter touch. Just to show our critical faculties are working we have to add that Deep River was just a tad out of his range.

The programme was conceived and directed from the piano by Music Theatre West impressario Noel Lennon. When considering accompanists I am reminded of the old chestnut about Fred and Ginger . Rogers matched everything Astaire did but backwards on high heels yet Fred is the one under the spotlight. Lennon is the most sympathetic accompanist. He seems to almost pour himself into the piano in his efforts to follow every nuance in the cello or vocal line . Indeed my only criticism is that we could have stood it for the spotlight to fall on his keyboard alone for at least a Chopin minute or two. That and  composers/ arrangers names to be credited on the programme notes please.

This was the second time in a matter of days that we have had top notch classical music presented by locally based musicians without it seems any formal sponsorship from state or corporate bodies. Quin based soprano, Helen Houlihan launched her lunchtime recital series in Ennis  on Thursday. Noel Lennon under the banner of Music Theatre West has consistently brought artistry of the highest standard to the Shannon arena. Many of us there last night have heard all three performers before, but there was a sense that we couldn't believe just how good they were. What magic they created, lifting us all with them out of the black box space to a higher plane. They are extraordinary musicians that would grace any international stage and you feel fortunate to have been there to hear their song and blessed to have them working and performing among us. These artists are needing and deserving of our support. Keep it live- Go along and hear them!

Edel O Brien and Irina Dernova play at St Columba's 1.05 pm June 20th

MTW Trio at foyer  performance in November

Friday, June 7, 2013

Classical Thursday Recital Series Launched at St Columbas'

Rev Bob Hanna  Irina Dernova and Helen Houlihan at Bindon Street

'Larks high overhead lost in light, and singing; That's the way of June'. With these lovely lines from Quilter's art song, June, soprano Helen Houlihan drew the first Summer recital at St Columba's, Ennis  to a close, a project initiated by the singer to enhance  the Clare Classical music scene and to provide a platform for emerging talent alongside experienced professional artists.

  Opening with standard repertoire by Schubert, the soprano moved on to a less often heard trio of songs by Brahms. The serene mood of the opening  Sonntag, contrasting with the playful mood of Vergebliches Standchen - a futile serenade. The whiff of exotic far flung lands was evoked in a piano piece by Spanish composer Granados played by Irina Dernova. Houlihan was perhaps at her best in the French chansons d'amour by Reynaldo Hahn, clearly relishing the expressive French lines.

With the summer sunshine illuminating the stained glass windows of the Victorian church, this sunny Romantic repertoire was a  very suitable and welcome musical offering to the Ennis Summer music scene. Helen Houlihan has worked harder and more consistently than most  to promote bel canto singing in Clare. She brings her artistry, a remarkable enthusiasm and  a degree of glamour to the platforms she has carved out for herself and new emerging talents over recent years. We say brava and thank you to her . 

The series continues with further recital by Owen Gilhooly, Edel O'Brien, Elena McLeod, Ruth Kelly and Helen Houlihan . The next recital will be by Edel O Brien on 20th June.

Set List
Fruhlingsglaube Schubert
An Die Musik        "
Sonntag                 Brahms 
Dein Blaues Auge          "
Vergebliches Standchen    "

Piano Solo Oriental from 12 Spanish Dances Granados

A Chloris     Hahn 
A'Enamourée   Hahn
Tyndaris      Hahn

The Fuschia Tree              Quilter
Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal  Quilter
June                          Quilter

Related articles  Soltice Day Carols at St Columbas'

                     Songs for a Summer Evening 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Harps, Statues and String quartets: A Dublin Saunter

Brenda Molloy
Queen of Dublin Buskers

It took me quite a while to navigate my way down Grafton Street on Friday such was the distraction by numerous buskers lining the route. There were earnest  young men with guitar, animate statues, a  one armed pan pipe player, a  professional string quartet and several gypsy jazz outfits- some were very good indeed and some made up for a lack of experience with charm and enthusiasm. Dublin City Council are currently drafting new bye laws to tackle the issue of on street busking as a code of practice was  unsuccessful with '15-20 problematic performers refusing to sign'  I like  buskers and occasionally take to the pavement to play myself but with one caveat-no amplifiers please.  I believe that the sounds  should  pervade only the space in the immediate vicinity of the busker. This would allow more of them to operate without  overpowering the listener. After all  as a passerby going from A to B, you haven't chosen to hear their offering. The lack of impact Joshua Bell had on passers by in new York was an internet sensation but was it such a surprise really?

Statue sextet

Living statues are a common feature on the busking scene  but I've never really understood the appeal of this particular kind of silent street artist. It is too easy to pass them by.  In a tribute to the legendary street artist The Diceman, poet and academic, Brendan Kennelly gave this assessment of the art  "Thom McGinty's magic has to do with his ability to mesmerise his audience, to lure them out of their busy city selves and to take them away into that land of perfect stillness where marvellous dreams are as normal as Bewley's sticky buns." Usually they are found standing  alone  but this unusual sextet caught my eye. More a pond of stillness than a pool to misquote Paula Meehan in her homage to McGinty, I am not sure what the theme was or if they were a random assortment. 

A band of  brothers, the Broadbents aka Stringfever, a  quartet from the UK were dominating the middle stretch of Grafton Street. Veterans of the corporate after dinner entertaining scene, they were not a typical string quartet. Replacing the standard wooden instruments with electric ones I am afraid they broke my wireless rule but they were very entertaining . 
Similar in many respects to Graffiti Classics, their blend of  virtuoso classical string technique with comedic capers was very popular with the crowd. 

Stringfever grips Grafton Street 


Out in Phoenix Park, the Mellowchords were warbling their way around the Bloom Garden Festival popping up all over the place with their barbershop vocals .

At the bottom of Grafton Street, I met Brenda Malloy who was in her spot across from Trinity College where she has sent  the strains of her gentle harp into the city soundscape for the last 13 years. Amid the profusion of musical styles proliferating  in the capital's busking scene, it seems very important that the sound of the Irish harp, our national symbol is heard  and Brenda is Cathy's Reviews' pick for best  Dublin busker For the record,  Brenda was the only artist bearing the Approved Performer Badge. Brava!

 I was very taken with these two youngsters who were ploughing their way through Delibes Flowers Song. Their sign explained that their dream was to be NBA players and were saving up to go to basketball camp

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bank Holiday Gigs in Waterford

You know you are quite famous when you are identified by just your first name and I went along to hear one such artist-the 60's icon Donovan at the Theatre Royal . He opened his set by launching straight into his first hit, Catch the Wind and proceeded to do half a dozen of his cheerful sing a long hits before pausing to tell a long winded yarn about the provenance of his emerald guitar. I was surprised to hear in contrast to his songs he  has a rather lugubrious  speaking voice with little trace of a Scottish burr. There was good enough  house with stalls and balcony almost full with an audience who while not actually wearing flowers in their hair were clearly  enjoying reliving aspects of their hippy dippy days. There was a significant number of younger patrons too with a pleasant support band, The Muggins opening the proceedings.

I was a child in the 60's and  not of it so Donovan was just before my time. Without that dimension of
Omega 3
past shared experience, I couldn't share in the sense of nostalgia required to carry the lightweight set . His voice has developed quite a wide warm vibrato that  I found difficult to listen to in a solo context  for an extended period .  Comparisons with another Glaswegian troubadour, Dick Gaughin  heard this month were inevitable and didn't favour Donovan. But his fans were happy. 'You can't take it away from him- He wrote some great songs ' said one man to me .

Leaving the Theatre Royal early, I repaired down the road to Jordan's to secure a good spot for local trio, Omega 3. The group fronted by Francie White  are always entertaining, delivering an eclectic set of songs with excellent accompaniment by Gerry Power and Michael Dower and witty asides but sad to say last night they were fighting a losing battle with chattering punters.  Yes I do know it is a bank holiday and this is a popular spot where people go to have a pint and a natter  and not necessarily to hear the band.  'I give up -too frustrating  ' said an Englishman on his way out who had come in to hear the group    Note to Imagine Festival organisers et al - If you are featuring this trio,  and I hope you do, please put them in a venue where we can actually hear and see them .

An Enemy Of The People at the Gate

By Guest Blogger John Hartery

A new production  at the Gate Theatre in Dublin opened this week-Enemy Of The People the Ibsen play adapted by Arthur Miller. The play was written nearly 140 years ago by the Norwegian in this production  is set in a 50's America. The plot concern a scientist in a small town whose discovery of poison in the local water supply threatens to spike the growing tourist trade. The town is Kirstin Springs and it is complete with a cast of pillars of society; journalists, publisher, factory owner and mayor (wonderfully played by Denis Conway). The scientist Dr Stockman is played  by Declan Conlon who  grapples with protecting the truth of his discovery against the gathering townsfolk that wants to conceal his findings. 
The first act of the play opens at your average dinner party when Stockman is in middle class heaven hosting his friends and family from his community. This is the inverse of what is to follow.
Thoughts for today from Ibsen
The second act is very dramatic and effective as  director Wayne Jordan places the supporting actors amongst the audience in the theatre as the characters appeal to the masses. The extended cast deliver a rabble rousing meeting from amongst us. 
In his notes, the director describes Ibsen's work as a parable play. And it is. It isn't hard to find resonances in contemporary Ireland  among the cast of characters . An obvious comparison could be made to those who pointed out flaws in the recent Irish disastrous business model of  property development and those in authority who derided and denounced them for doing so! This production is highly recommended.



Venue Notes:
At €25 minimum the ticket price is expensive. On the night we visited the venue was not full. Some imagination in ticket pricing might grow revenue and get more people in.
It's always a treat to visit the Gate and we loved the walls adorned with pictures of previous productions and the lovely china cups for your coffee.

Directed by Wayne Jordan 
Set Design by Paul O’Mahony 
Costume Design by Joan O’Clery 
Lighting Design by Davy Cunningham
Music and Sound Design by Philip Stewart

Cast includes: 
Fiona Bell, Liam Carney, Steve Cash, Declan Conlon, Denis Conway, Siobhan Cullen, Robert Duff, Jill Harding, Bosco Hogan, Mark Huberman, Ronan Leahy, Callum Martin, Barry McGovern, Morgan Moore, Peter O’Byrne, Donncha O’Dea, James O’Donoghue 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Songs You Should Hear at the NCH

Seamus Brett and Kathy Nugent 

'Songs you Should Hear' in the John Field Room 

Kathy Nugent with pianist Seamus Brett presented a selection of popular classic songs in the John Field Room at lunchtime on Friday. An impressive performer, Nugent proved she could do sotto voce just as well as belting out the showstoppers and had a relaxed and well judged stage patter between numbers. She was ably supported by Sligo pianist, Seamus Brett who was just a tad too strident at times for my taste in the intimate venue.   
With no natural light , the show developed by Paul Black  was presented with full stage lighting more suited to a nocturnal event.  Maybe street noise and access issues preclude the use of the Kevin Barry room but I found that space more conducive to a daytime event  at a recent afternoon recital 

Venue Notes
With a near capacity audience,  why I wondered was the in house record shop not open?  I am not of the download generation, nor I suspect were most of the other 120 generally older patrons, and with record shops vanished from the high streets, more than ever I welcome an opportunity to browse through CD racks.

Set List
Love Me or Leave Me
Yesterday I Heard the Rain
Three  by Sondheim Broadway Baby; Anyone Can Whistle: Am I Losing My Mind
My Life Bassey
Victim Song
Streisand trilogy My Man: Evergreen: Memories
Connie Francis Who’s sorry now singalong
I Was Beautiful
Piano Solo Culainn
It Never Was You Weill
Doris Day Trio :My Secret Love: Ce Sera: Black Hills

Les Mis Selection : Empty Chairs/  Dreamed a Dream  

Huntsmen, Soldiers, Priests & Pilgrims: Waterford Opera Gala


WMVC Opera Gala photo from choir Facebook page 

Huntsmen, Soldiers, Priests and Pilgrims: Summer Opera Gala in Waterford

 Thursday 30th May was, it was generally agreed, the first glorious day of Summer 2013.  The sighting of sunshine in Phoenix Park was a rare enough event to warrant mention in morning news reports on the opening  day of Bloom Garden Festival where a Waterford garden  took first prize. That evening, I was in the violin section of the WIT Symphony Orchestra for the season finale concert of the Waterford Male Voice Choir. The house was sold out days in advance -another rarity.  The concert marked the farewell to the ensemble of Niall Crowley who has steered the ensemble since its inception twelve years ago. There was a strong element of collaboration in the venture as the choir invited singers from local ladies choirs, Voci and Edmund Rice to join them for the final chorus of this auspicious occasion.

Auxilliary Percussion  The Anvil 

The programme of operatic repertoire was bookended with numbers from, Maritana by William Vincent Wallace, the Overture and the Angelus Chorus. Wallace was born in the Suirside city and local cognoscenti have never let the minor detail of him moving before he'd had a chance to take his first faltering footsteps on the Quay or learned to butter a blaa, deter them from claiming him as our own.  His bust presides over the forecourt of the Theatre Royal, drawings of him adorn hotel lobbies and no gala  is complete without something from his Victorian oeuvre adding a grand  dollop of nostalgia to any such occasion. Guest soloists,  Bridget Knowles, Roisin  O'Grady and Eoin Power presented well known arias and duets from the standard repertoire. The gentlemen of the choir were variously soldier, priests and pilgrims in operatic choruses by Guonod and Mozart and Wagner. A highlight was the Huntsmen Chorus by Weber with splendid playing from the quartet of French horns. Star of the show  was a real life anvil for the famous chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an anvil in the flesh so to speak and my only quibble is that such a novelty could have been more clearly displayed and afforded a more theatrical flourish.

I rarely get  the opportunity to play grand operatic repertoire and very much enjoyed working with Niall Crowley on this project.  It was good  to reconnect with friends and  former colleagues in the orchestra led tonight with her customary authority by Teresa Costello.   Niall passes the baton to Cian O'Carroll and we wish this ensemble of stouthearted men and their new director well in their next season of musical endeavours.