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Rising stars shine @ the Peninsula Festival Academy showcase
The Peninsula Summer Music Festival Academy presents a showcase every two years - described by outgoing festival director Julia Fredersdorff as 'Classical Karaoke' of up-and-coming young musicians. Last night's Academy Showcase kicked off with Lucy Price (cello) and Meredith Beardmore (baroque flute) performing lesser-known works by Vogel amongst others, to the accompaniment of screeching cockatoos in the nearby pines.
Next up was Nicholas Pollock on theorbo accompanying the ethereal voice of Roberta Diamond singing the songs of 17th century Italy. The audience was invited into the strange world of the theorbo player by the personable Nick, and given insight into the text of the Song of Songs (sung to the music of a contemporary Israeli composer and of Monteverdi) by Roberta. The duo ended with a lover's lament by Barbara Strozzi, one of the few female composers of the time.
Third on the programme were Hugh Fullerton (harpsichord), Alexandra Mathew (soprano) and Lucy Price (cello) performing a cantata composed by a very young GF Handel tackling the difficult topic of the rape of Lucretia by the dastardly Tarquinius. Alexandra Mathew filled the small marquee stage with her presence - at times pacing, often anguished and always in command of the material despite having no score.
The final act was a (mainly) string ensemble by the name of Bin 1728, a nod to Vivaldi's most prolific year. The strings were augmented by harpsichord, theorbo and (for the first piece) baroque oboe in a stirring performance of Vivaldi's 1718 Symphonia. Our oboist took a break during the concerto for strings that followed, swapping his oboe for a soprano recorder for the finale, the Finch Concerto.
The result was trilling. That little finch had the audience in the palm of its wing from start to finish, and was more than a match for the cockatoo chorus. An encore was demanded and was delivered by the ensemble and its exhausted recorder-player. A truly memorable performance but an unassuming young man.