Welcome return for opera singers

Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid.
Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid.

Review of the final in the autumn series of lunchtime concerts at Morpeth’s St George’s Church, featuring Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid.

Opera singers Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid made a welcome return to Morpeth in the last of the autumn series of lunchtime concerts.

Performing in a packed St George’s United Reformed Church, their programme was more humorous and light in nature than serious and classical.

However, they opened with two classical favourites O Isis and Osiris, from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Che Faro, from Gluck’s opera Orpheus and Euridice.

Graeme’s rich and powerful bass voice was perfectly suited to the high priest’s offering in the temple whilst Valerie gave a polished performance of Gluck’s popular solo.

The remainder of the programme was much lighter and mostly humorous.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado was next on the programme, with three well-known excerpts.

Valerie sang Katisha’s melodramatic Alone, And Yet I Live, which was performed with intense feeling, contrasting strongly with Graeme’s Willow, Tit Willow with its simple, but very sad tale.

They then combined for the duet There Is Beauty In The Bellow Of The Blast with excellent diction, great pace and energy.

Flanders and Swann wrote many fine and funny animal songs and two of these, The Gnu and The Warthog were next on the programme.

Both were sung and acted with much energy by the talented duo.

Three songs by Tom Lehrer followed.

Lehrer’s songs are full of clever, barbed sarcasm and are a reflection of the ‘60s and ‘70s life in the USA.

They are very humorous and were most popular 40 to 50 years ago.

Valerie sang The Irish Ballad with great precision and style whilst The Hunting Song and Poisoning Pigeons in the Park were ideal for Graeme’s direct and positive approach.

As a complete contrast Valerie then performed Michael Head’s seasonal song The Slumber Song Of The Madonna.

This lovely song was beautifully sung, leaving very few dry eyes in the house — a fine contrast in style.

Graeme and Valerie’s programmes always contain some aspect of north country life and on this occasion they sang Ower Young To Be Married Yet by Eric Boswell.

This duet was sung with perfect diction, so important in compositions with humorous and often larger-than-life stories.

Their final song, the very popular and famous The Hippopotamus by Flanders and Swann brought the concert to a perfect conclusion, with the audience participating in the chorus Mud, Mud Glorious Mud.

Throughout the concert, the versatile and talented Ken Irvine accompanied on the piano, adding further polish to a most successful occasion.

The next concert, the first of the Winter/Spring 2019 Series, will be a return visit by the Virtuoso Jazz Trio led by George Macdonald (clarinet) with guitarist James Birkett and bass Tony Abell.

It will take place on Wednesday, January 15, at 12.30pm.

Tickets are priced at £3 and may be obtained at the door.

Further information on this and the other concerts in the series can be obtained from Gillian Irvine on 01670 515870.

BCP

• The concert raised more than £700 in donations to the Henry Dancer Days charity, which will finance one full grant to a family whose child has aggressive bone cancer, plus four storytelling therapy sessions at the Great North Children’s Hospital.