Community Concert

St Mary's Church and Hall, Saturday July 2nd 2016

IMS Community Concert

"It was a game of two halves, Brian" – do you remember the football mantra of many years ago when your team had just lost after a terrible second half performance? Well, the Community Concert on Saturday evening, 2 July, was not like that, because each of the very different halves brought delight in its own way.

We have not usually had two different musicians organizing each part independently. Emi Itoh was the impresario for the first half in Iffley Church. Starting the evening with some intimate duets for the unusual combination of two violins, she then took a part in the contrasts of the vocal group called the Headingtones. They sang "Greensleeves", a piece in Russian, and then "Blackbird" by Lennon and McCartney. Ending the half by organizing a performance of Bach's Sixth Brandenburg Concerto was a triumph for Emi, in which she played an ancient instrument, the viol. The performance was exceptional, producing a beautifully balanced sound which resonated through the ancient spaces.

The tradition of this culminating event of the season is to have a long picnic interval – but the weather, as usual, wasn't brilliant, so consumption was continuing in the Church Hall when we reconvened for the second half. Then the stunning sound of a violin playing the Prelude from Bach's solo violin Partita commanded our total absorption as a clear and wonderful filigree filled the smaller venue of the hall. As I know from my personal experience, good things can come out of Siberia, as they did in these arresting, all-too-short moments from Anna Snesar, whose musical education was in Novosibirsk. Fortunately for us, she has abandoned her homeland for the warmer climes of local residence and we shall surely have her back to play a full concert of her own.

Fiona Dobie, our local "singing instructor", as the programme called her, is much more than that: she has been an inspiration to generations of young performers and we heard two of her current pupils. Katie Gilbert is an experienced soprano, who studied music at Oxford and will shortly be going on to the Birmingham Conservatoire, and she charmed us with Mozart's "L'Amerò", the only well-known piece from his early opera, Il Ré Pastore. Phoebe Rayner's rich mezzo, after a group of songs, combined wonderfully with Katie in the "Flower Duet" from Lakmé by Delibes. We hope to hear more of her after she begins her undergraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music.

East Oxford, including Iffley, is home to such a wealth of musical talent, which, year after year, it is a privilege to showcase in our two beautiful venues – where local people can hear distinguished music for half the price of a cinema ticket.

A retiring collection was made in support of Emmaus Oxford.

Michael Bourdeaux
Iffley Parish Magazine