There was a large audience for the beginning of the 2019 season with a concert by MJ-UK (Maria Jagusz and friends). Maria has had an international career as an opera singer and still performs regularly. She runs MY-UK Music and Arts which gives performing opportunities to children and young adults. Four members of the group joined Maria on this occasion which explored the music of Ivor Novello and some of his contemporaries.
After Maria’s opening aria the four young sopranos (Hayley Capp, April Perrott, Megan Strachan and Gilly Wells) each sang and we soon realised that the evening would be special. They each performed with assurance; their high notes seemed effortless, the intonation was always accurate and the interpretation of each song was conveyed, not only through the voice, but also with appropriate facial expression.
With such an abundance of talent one should not mention individual performances but two items provided a complete contrast; an unaccompanied Welsh folk song sung beautifully by Megan and “Can’t help loving that man” in which Hayley showed her versatility by slipping effortlessly from opera into the necessary jazz idiom.
The accompanist was Barrie Cooper who plays regularly for MJ – UK and is much sought after in the Gloucestershire area. His skill on the keyboard and his ability to provide the right amount of support for the singers added to the excellent performances throughout the evening. Their efforts were rewarded by rapturous applause from the delighted audience.