There was an autumnal chill in the air as an audience was ushered into the warmth of West Cliff Baptist Church; on this night, La Nova Singers would give a concert in aid of Macmillan Caring Locally. Neal Williams, the trust’s secretary, was kind enough to attend and introduce the evening.
The singers performed music from right across their repertoire, beginning with Baroque favourites by Handel and Mozart (which some of the audience would remember from the group’s spectacular Somerley House concert in 2009). John Rutter made a brief appearance with some characteristically memorable pieces, and the first half ended with the ethereally beautiful ‘In Paradisum’ from the Fauré Requiem. Steven Howard brought an added dimension to this and other pieces with his flute accompaniment, which blended beautifully with the voices.
Tonight was a special occasion, being the first official concert performance of a new group of singers: the Bella Nova quartet. Although the four girls have only been singing together for a year, they charmed the audience with their renditions of Howard Goodall’s Vicar of Dibley theme, Brahms’ Lullaby and Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven.
The concert’s second half opened in darkness with Puccini’s Humming chorus, the singers processing towards the stage as they sang, each illuminated by a small votive. The audience then enjoyed the infamous Cat Duet; Paul Simon’s Bridge over Troubled Water; and Su Convy’s star turn as soloist in “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”.
The concert ended as it began, with a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus; and Michelle Nova extended the group’s thanks to their new pianist, Victor Burbidge – who, despite having only been playing for the group since August, has already made a big impression!
La Nova Singers will now be busy preparing for their festive offering, ‘Songs of Christmas Past’, at Highcliffe Castle on 14 December.