ON THE evening of Sunday May 6 I caught part of a TV Show called “Britain’s Got Talent”, in which one performer was congratulated for “making the violin sexy”.
I couldn’t help contrasting the implications of this odd remark with the talent I had been privileged to see during the afternoon right here in Eastbourne.
Here, three singers described as Jerwood Young Artists were being coached in their art by a famous Dublin-born singer, Dame Ann Murray.
A brilliant pianist, Gareth Hancock, followed their every musical twist and turn, ever ready to pick up again after each interruption by the tutor.
Dame Ann, singing frequently herself in order to illustrate some subtle point, once even went so far as to recline “sexily” on the floor, but only to provide opportunity for insightful acting and singing in a scene where sex is of the essence in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia.
Each Young Artist had talent oozing from every pore. Their voices easily filled every crevice of the Birley Centre with glorious sound: and not a microphone anywhere!
Ellie Laugharne (who has a degree in music from Birmingham, and has been on the opera course at London’s famous Guildhall School) not only sang beautifully but was, it has to be said, exceptionally good to look at.
No-one was so insulting as to say that she made singing “sexy”; that is: unless her music demanded it.
Baritone Duncan Rock (a handsome redhead) was first on, and I suppose his performance of an excerpt from the aforementioned Rape of Lucretia was “sexy”, because the music demanded it.
As Papageno in The Magic Flute he was “funny” – again because the music demanded it. Dame Ann’s ability to coax out innate talent by uniting each singer with his or her music was demonstrated time and again.
Bass-baritone Szymon Wach is Polish, from Wroclaw, and he, like the others, studied at the Guildhall. (The Guildhall certainly “has talent”, it seems.)
I went to the Balcony to hear the honeyed tones of this remarkable bass-baritone, and admired the way the tutor drew from him the varying moods demanded by Rachmaninoff’s heart-rending aria from Aleko.
This generous outpouring of talent formed the first event in this year’s superb Meads Music Festival.