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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Solstice Songs at St Columba's

St Columba's Choral Gathering

Baritone Owen Gilhooly 

Twilight prevailed  all day on the shortest day of the year in Ennis making the candlelit Gothic interior of St Columba's Church seem all the more cheerful decked out in all its Christmas adornments. There was a good house for a concert of seasonal repertoire by soprano, Helen Houlihan and baritone, Owen Gilhooly with the Ennis Cathedral Choir under director, Michael Hennessy accompanied by Irina Dernova. The programme was a classy affair, a blend of sacred and secular, rare gems and familiar favourites.
The opening solo  of the first half was a baritone aria from Christmas Oratorio by JS Bach, very likely a premiere in Clare of this sacred  repertoire. It seems an Avé Maria attributed to Caccini  may be ersatz  Baroque but it is glorious  nonetheless and Helen Houlihan delivered the  slow moving melody with a  beautifully sustained  tone. There was touch of Hollywood in Malotte's setting of the Lord's Prayer with which  she opened the second half. The choir answered an aria from Handel's Messiah with a jaunty rendition of the chorus For Unto Us a Child is Born.  How lovely to hear an Irish carol (Wexford Carol) in the selection, a very effective collaboration between soprano and choir. The mixed voice Cathedral Choir fitted snugly  under the Gothic arch  and sounded confident in the less familiar secular repertoire.

Seasonal Refreshments
Limerick baritone, Owen Gilhooly is currently enjoying international critical acclaim and listening to him tonight , it was easy to see why. He has  fabulous control. Shimmering pianissimos led to  gradual  crescendos with a pure tone throughout. Even with the most familiar repertoire, every nuance of emotion is articulated in heartfelt renditions that make even the most familiar carol sound fresh. You can hear Owen talking about his highlights of  a hectic 2012 and  his forthcoming projects in the audioboo below recorded just after the performance.

The reverberant acoustic was not always kind to the piano in the florid baroque lines more usually heard on strings and harpsichord and one wonders if the organ might have fared better for the this repertoire.  This is the second occasion that I have reported on this line up. In Songs for a Summer Evening I commented that the presentation would have been improved if the vocal introductions had been trimmed.Tonight I felt the opposite and  a sentence or two setting the context of the less familiar repertoire would have enhanced the presentation. The evening was a fund raiser for the Society of St Vincent de Paul and all performers had generously donated their time.
The audience lingered quite a while  for mulled wine cups and minced pies in the vestry for a convivial mull over the lovely evening.of song in Bindon St

Venue Notes: As always the beauty of the many lit candles created a magical ambiance in this beautiful venue which has served several musical evenings  in this month alone. I suggest that  lights in the nave could have come down even more to enhance the effect of candellight.

 Owen Gilhooly  ’ on Audioboo

Related posts Cool Blackwater Barber

Set List
Somewhere In My Memory Williams Choir
Grosser Herr JS Bach from Christmas Oratorio Owen
Ave Verum Mozart  Helen
But Who May Abide Handel 
Panis Angelicus Franck owen & Helen
Ave Maria Caccini helen 
O Holy Night A Adam Owen & Helen 
The Lord's Prayer Malotte Helen
Ave Maria  Scubert Owen
Wiegenlied Reger Helen
Little Rd to Bethlehem  Holst Owen
Once in Royal David's City  Andrea Sheahan and Choir
For Unto Us a Child is Born  Handel Choir 
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Choir
A|deste Fidelis Owen and Choir
Wexford CarolHelen and Choir
Hark the Herald Angels Sing Choir
Silent NightChoir
The Holy City Owen Helen and Choir

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