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The reflections and comments of a resident in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Purity of Voice

The Tallis Scholars performed at Portsmouth Cathedral last Friday night. I changed my mind several times over the course of the concert. Each piece proceeded with one more beautiful than the last.

The opening piece, Monody's L'Homme Arme, impressed with the unity of the starting and ending and purity of the voices.

The Tallis Scholars sang each piece with such great voices, resounding in the beautiful setting of the  Cathedral.

The programme selection, some played at royal funerals past, made me think of what I might like played in my own funeral. Some of the pieces were so beautiful and fast paced that it sounded as though death is something joyful.

Overall, I thought both the Victoria's pieces were the best and certainly the Tallis Scholar ended the concert stunningly with the Libera me from Missa pro Defunctis.

Review: The Tallis Scholars, Friday 20 June, 7.30pm at Portsmouth Cathedral

PS: I looked up Victoria, whose full name is Tomás Luis de Victoria and I lift this brief paragraph from Wikipedia about him

Tomás Luis de Victoria, sometimes Italianised as da Vittoria (c.1548 – 20 August 1611), was the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain, and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation, along with Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso. Victoria was not only a composer, but also an accomplished organist and singer as well as a Catholic priest. However, he preferred the life of a composer to that of a performer. He is sometimes known as the "Spanish Palestrina" because he may have been taught by Palestrina.

Portsmouth Festivities opened with a fanfare

Portsmouth Festivities opened with a great fanfare, literally, courtesy of John Sampson. He was part of a duet with poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Carol said The Queen gave him to her, which was greeted with laughter and that very much set the tone for the next hour.

First, Portsmouth Poet Laureate, Sam Cox, read her newly penned poem Pages of Possibilities. I love her sing song delivery and phrasing.  In this poem I love the line 'tapestry of people colliding' and I thought this is the poem that would inspire people to want to write their own.

Carol Ann Duffy read from her book The World's Wife, which was published in 1999. This was a collection inspired by stories she heard in her childhood. She gave a voice to the women involved in the stories.

The first she read was from Midas' wife, who recoiled from his great gift, afraid to be immortalised into a gold statue and finally assigning him to a motor home.

I was delighted by the twist in the ending of her poem about Faust. She put mythical stories into modern day setting and imagined what the various wives would say to their husbands' folly, with humorous outcomes.

Carol Ann Duffy has a dry sense of humour. She hardly smiled, but she added a few comical entries, while John Sampson played various wind instruments, as intervals to her reading.

Carol Ann Duffy also tackled various current topics in her reading. She read her poem about the Christmas Truce and also gave a nod to the World Cup, apparently her favourite topic of conversation.

Tickets to the event sold out almost as soon as the box office opened and I was privileged to be among the audience to witness her talent and to take part in some enjoyable audience participation.

Review: Carol Ann Duffy, Friday 20 June 2014, 2pm at the Portsmouth Grammar School