In Quest of Beauty – La Nova Singers visit Alphonse Mucha at the Russell-Cotes

Champenois Imprimeur image by Alphonse Mucha - image from Wikipedia

As well as some unexpected sunshine, April has brought with it one of Bournemouth’s most eagerly anticipated cultural events: an exhibition of work by the influential Art Nouveau poster artist Alphonse Mucha, at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum.

Since the museum is also the venue for our special gala concert in July, we sent soprano and Art Nouveau aficionado Holly Stroud to see the exhibition and report back…

Seeing the tall, elegant posters Mucha created for the actress Sarah Bernhardt in person, you can understand why residents of findesiècle Paris might have torn them down overnight and smuggled them home. The linework within each image ranges from delicate and flowing, to bold and very modern-seeming. There is a flair for composition, and a magpie’s eye for decorative detail (Mucha also designed stage jewellery).

A particular favourite of mine is the poster for Bernhardt’s appearance as the tragic courtesan Marguerite in ‘La Dame Aux Camellias‘ – a story familiar to us in La Nova Singers, as it is also the basis for Verdi’s opera La Traviata. Mucha’s poster features the camellia as a decorative and symbolic device, adorning a stunning full-length portrait of the heroine against a background of iridescent stars.

La Dame Aux Camellias, 1896 - Alfons Mucha; image via Wikimedia Commons.

One thing that the curators at the Russell-Cotes always do really well is planning exhibitions that complement the museum’s permanent collection. In this case, although the work in the exhibition-proper comes from the collection of The Mucha Trust,  the curators have chosen to juxtapose artwork from the Aesthetic Movement in Britain – including Rosetti’s ‘Venus Verticordia‘. By drawing parallels with this so-called ‘cult of beauty’, they highlight what is perhaps the most salient aspect of Mucha’s work – that it is beautiful. A far cry from the shock tactics and appeals to fear and ignorance that are such a frequent feature of today’s advertising. The product placement in Mucha’s commercial work is subtle; the effect always stylish.

Moët & Chandon Crémant Impérial, 1899 - Alfons Mucha. Image via Wikimedia Commons

As we plan our celebratory concert, the setting of the Russell-Cotes seems more appropriate than ever for our pursuit of ‘bel canto’ – beautiful singing.

‘Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty’ runs until the end of September 2015 at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth.

The exhibition alone is reason enough to visit; but if you’d appreciate some elegant classical singing with a backdrop of fine art, visit our website for booking details for La Nova Singers’ 10th Anniversary Gala Concert on Saturday 25 July.

Find out more:

Images © The Mucha Trust

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Let’s hear it for the Studio Choir! – Joint concert for Macmillan Caring Locally is a resounding success

Michelle Nova, singer and singing teacher, with the Studio Choir at a concert in Bournemouth

It’s not an unusual story in this day and age: a disparate group of women, brought together almost by chance and faced with the apparently insurmountable task of forming themselves into an elite singing ensemble. In just a few short weeks, these women became a fully-fledged choir. Their mission: to sing – aargh! – in public, and raise some money for charity into the bargain.

But this is not a television show. This is the Studio Choir, formed from participants in singing teacher Michelle Nova’s first all-female Bel Canto choral course. Like the now-famous Military Wives Choir created by Gareth Malone, they enjoyed the many benefits of singing: the intense focus that takes your mind off day-to-day worry; the conscious breathing and good posture; and the confidence that comes from mastering a difficult challenge. They have also had the opportunity to study techniques passed down by the great Bel Canto singers of history, and put these to use in a charity concert for Christchurch-based cancer charity Macmillan Caring Locally.

Studio Choir, La Nova Singers, Bella Nova Singers and Michelle Nova

We members of La Nova Singers were of course not allowed to rest on our laurels and let these other talented women do all the singing! The concert, ‘Light is my Heart’, featured performances from ourselves and our ‘little sister’ ensemble Bella Nova Singers; so there was a wide range of different music for the audience to enjoy. All the singers joined together to perform songs including Ricevete from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and The Rhythm of Life.

Thanks to a generous audience, we raised £365 for Macmillan Caring Locally.

Exclusive video footage from the concert will soon be available from the La Nova Studios YouTube channel.

www.lanovasingers.co.uk

Children in Need 2010 – Bournemouth Christmas Market

La Nova Singers performed a one-hour concert on Saturday 20th November on the stage in Bournemouth Square to raise funds for Children in Need.

The event was a great success and the singers collected over £300 from the generous shoppers of Bournemouth!

The singers would like to thank all those who help with the collecting and our pianist Christine Langton for braving the cold and giving their time so generously.

Children in Need 2009

La Nova Singers performed a one hour concert on Saturday 21st November in the Sovereign Centre, Boscombe, Bournemouth to raise funds for Children in Need.

The event was a great success and the singers collected £340.76 from the generous shoppers of Boscombe.

The singers would like to thank all those who help with the collecting, as well as our stand-in pianist Janine Khalil, for giving their time so generously; also the Sovereign Centre staff for looking after us.