Wow what a whirlwind of a week, on Friday evening there was the performance at St Mary’s Cathedral of the RCS Choir from the BMus course. From Haydn’s ‘Little Organ Mass’, Michael Bawtree accompanied on the Cathedral’s Henry Willis organ and played C.P.E Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, followed in the second half with John Rutter’s folk song suite ‘A Sprig of Thyme’ conducted by Frikki Walker.
On Saturday I had two shows and Sunday a final matinee performance with Scottish Opera Connect’s company at Webster’s Theatre, Glasgow. Our double bill ‘The Walk from the Garden/Dr Ferret’s Bad Medicine Roadshow’ had a lovely review in the Sunday Herald by Mary Brennan.
“Give the young singers and musicians in Scottish Opera’s Connect Company a cleverly balanced double bill, full of musical contrasts and intrinsic drama – like the one they presented across the weekend – then sit back and enjoy, as they deliver something special, sparked with a mix of keen energy and mature focus.
Stephen Deazley’s piece, Dr Ferret’s Bad Medicine Roadshow, was first aired by Connect in 2011 when they filled the Citizens main stage with a technicolour whing-ding reminiscent of the Land of Oz. At Webster’s – an altogether more intimate black box space – Deazley’s witty romp through some of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales arrives in (mostly) black and white: the colour comes from the performances.
Our Dr Ferret is Andrew McTaggart, an avuncular presence whose baritone warmth promises that his elixir can make bad children good…
The Connect chorus (ages ranging from 14 to 21) revel in the mischief of Belloc and the jaunty, quirky humours of Deazley, while the Connect orchestra kept pace with the snap and rhythmic crackle of the score.
The opening piece, Jonathan Dove’s The Walk in the Garden, thrummed with a sombre intensity that demanded much, of the soloists especially. Inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dove uses the expulsion of Adam (Glen Cunningham) and Eve (Charlotte Hoather) from Eden into an earthly wasteland to echo our own self-inflicted loss of natural habitat through climate change.
The chorus, who bookend the piece in thundering volume (as God, then Milton) sit on-stage as Adam and Eve, garbed like jet-setting holiday-makers, scale Dove’s heights of remembered joys, despair and resignation.
A fierce, compelling work to which young voices gave a touching truth.”
It was fabulous for me to watch Scottish Opera’s emerging artist Andrew McTaggart as Dr Ferret, he is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and attended the Alexander Gibson Opera School, the chorus sizzled through the entire production and didn’t let up in energy and colourful expression for the entire performance.
I also met the composer of the opera Jonathan Dove on Saturday, he enjoyed our first performance which was fantastic and he signed my score which I’m going to treasure.
It was great to see staff from the RCS vocal department who came along to watch including the head of vocal performance Professor Stephen Robertson, Judith Howarth and my singing teacher Kathleen McKellar Ferguson I would like to say a big thank you to my friends and family who came along to show their support, several of them travelling quite a distance which I really do appreciate and for the cards and messages of support from my friends who could not make it.