Janice Watson Sings Cabaret – All Saints Church, Borehamwood 24th March 2024.

Singers: Janice Watson and Laurie Marks

The ABC Trio: Celia Bangham – oboe, Adele Gordon – clarinet, Caitlin Stock – bassoon

Double Bass – Helen Boyea, Drums – Simon Kenyon-Smith, Piano – Derek Holland

This concert was the brainchild of both Andrew Grady and Derek Holland, it had been thwarted due to the Covid 19 pandemic, but now at last able to happen. As the current President of the Rotary Club of the Studios of Elstree and Borehamwood, Andrew Grady chose to raise money for The Alzheimer’s society in memory of his late mother, who was also a keen singer herself, having hamily links to the Huddersfield Choral Society.

The ABC Trio who are all regular musicians with the Elstree Mozart Players, opened proceedings with an Allegro from Mozart’s Divertimento No. 4. A lively start to this wonderful extravaganza and played with the usual panache you expect from EMP musicians.

Then it was time for Janice to delight us with her Cabaret voice, ably accompanied by Derek Holland, Helen Boyes and Simon Kenyon-Smith. She gave us a little explanation about the differences between the Operatic and Cabaret style of voice, and how the sound is made. Such a consummate professional, Janice brings an almost forensic and analytical understanding to her performances and is prepared and able to share that know how with an audience. She began with Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie by Tesori /Scanlon. From the first note she had everyone spellbound; no microphone required, her operatic training kicked in even though her sound and delivery were clearly showtime-musical in style. The applause was instant as she finished, warm and appreciative of such a class act. She followed up with Secret Love, from Calamity Jane by Sammy Fain and ended this selection with, My Ship by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ira Gershwin. By now the audience were completely under her spell, Janice was on a roll.

To give her voice a break, The ABC Trio performed a few more numbers. Firstly, The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, then Nessun Dorma [none shall sleep] from Turandot by Puccini and Regina della notte [queen of the night aria] from Magic Flute by Mozart. A brilliant foil to cabaret songs and a nod to Janice and her profession.

Next, Janice sung the Tale of the Oyster by Cole Porter, an amusing number where she brought all her years of opera stage experience and presence to the fore.  Then a song that most people know either as the Liverpool Football team anthem, or more properly from the musical, Carousel, – You’ll Never Walk Alone by Rodgers and Hammerstein. She ended this section with ‘Bill’ by Jerome kern, a beautiful love song and Janice brought great heart and pathos to it. The ABC Trio then played a Gavotte by Gossec and a Tango from Espana by Albeniz.

To end the first half, Janice was joined by Laurie Marks (an experienced Gilbert & Sullivan participant), in a famous duet from Annie Get Your Gun – Anything you Can Do, by Irvin Berlin. They both sung and acted the roles perfectly, much to the joy and amusement of the audience, rounding off what had been a brilliant and thoroughly engaging experience, and we were only halfway through!

The ABC Trio opened the second half with Tico-Tico no Fuba [sparrow in the cornmeal] by Abreau, then Beautiful dreamer by Stephen Foster. Beautifully played and preparing us for Janice’s next numbers.

She began with Cry me a River by Arthur Hamilton. A dreamy, steamy song that Janice got beneath the skin of perfectly. Then she was joined by Laurie in his specialist subject, There’s A Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast from the Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan. Again, they inhabited the parts and delivered a flawless performance. Janice ended this section with And all that Jazz from Chicago by Kander and Ebb. She really got to the heart of cabaret with this one and gave it some ‘wellie’. The audience couldn’t get enough, applauding loudly and enthusiastically.

Once more The ABC Trio gave Janice time to rest her voice and played Jeanie with the light brown hair by Stephen Foster, Rondo from Divertimento no 4 by Mozart, and then the evergreen Danny boy by Weatherly.

Janice began her final selection of songs with Maybe This Time by Kander and Ebb from the musical Cabaret. A love song that she understood thoroughly and lived through every moment taking the audience with her. Then a change of style, sung more operatically, yet from a musical, Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein. A superb song and a glorious rendition, then applause to match.

A change of mood, humour. Janice sung A Word on my Ear by Flanders and Swann a comic song about a tone deaf singer, clearly not about Janice! Brilliantly sung and performed with gestures from her able accompanist – Derek. The final song, also humorous if a little macabre, had Laurie join her again in, A Little Priest from Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim. They played their roles very convincingly, almost chillingly! At the end, applause was hearty, celebratory and a tribute to a wonderful artist. Bravo Janice!

A final flourish by The ABC Trio with Maruntel [fast dance] from Romanian dances by Bartók rounded off a fantastic evening of entertainment. The audience responded enthusiastically now ‘sugar’ high on all these musical lollipops.

The local Mayor gave thanks to the musicians and particularly Janice for her wonderful singing, also to the organisers and audience who make it all worthwhile. Andrew Grady also thanked everyone for supporting the Alzheimer’s Society and his friends and musicians for organising and playing, clearly moved by the occasion.

‘Let’s have more of that Jazz’ Janice, you have proved what a versatile and talented opera singer you are and how you can sing anything, adapt your voice to any genre. Fantastic!!

Graham Wilson (Freelance Reviewer for EMP)

The Elstree Mozart Players, All Saints Church, Borehamwood, Saturday, 24th February 2024, 7:30pm.

Concert Review by Graham Wilson

Derek Holland with Elstree Mozart Players

Another jam backed concert from the Elstree Mozart Players and their conductor Derek Holland; overture, short piece, concertos, arias and a Symphony, something for every listener and some wonderful music making.

Elstree Mozart Players President Cllr. John Graham welcomed concert goers to the evening’s proceedings, introducing current Hertsmere Mayor Cllr. Chis Myers and his consort, plus Cllr. Farida Turner, representing the Mayor of Elstree and Borehamwood.

Cllr Myers, in his welcome speech spoke highly of the orchestra’s beginnings complementing Derek Holland, Andrew Grady and Pat Strack for setting up the orchestra, which raises funds for needy charitable causes.

The concert on Saturday 24th February 2024 was set out to raise funds for the Borehamwood Foodbank, and raised nearly £200.00 for this worthwhile cause.

The concert began with Rossini’s Silken Ladder Overture. The playing and tempi were spot on, with the slower passages – smooth and silky, the fast music – sparkling and energetic. There must be special praise for the oboes who had some very virtuosic passages to negotiate, they played with aplomb. A thoroughly excellent start to proceedings.

Then a short piece by the Finnish composer, Järnefelt – Praeludium. Derek and EMP played like they knew it intimately, indeed for me it was like being reacquainted with an old friend, a piece I’d known years ago but not heard for decades, many decades! I glorious little gem to fill a Christmas stocking, or as an early Easter present, delightful.

Elizabeth Venner

More delight was to follow when out of the viola section stepped Elizabeth Venner, to sing “Batti Batti” from Mozart’s Opera – Don Giovanni. From supporting the orchestra instrumentally to singing out front, Elizabeth gave us a matchless performance of this exceptional aria. Clean intonation, coupled with a beautiful tone and expressive both musically and facially, she lived the part. The rousing applause at the end said it all, brilliant!

To end the first half, the accomplished violinist Peter Bussereau, who has performed with EMP previously, gave us a thoughtful and rousing rendering of Mendelssohn’s evergreen Violin Concerto in E minor.

Peter Bussereau

His playing was virtuosic in the quick passages, flowing and melodious in the slow ones. The slow movement being the highlight, Peter’s playing caressed the air and floated through the ether, ably accompaniment by EMP throughout. The Finale sped along with a virtuosic buzz and clean internation, a brilliant performance that had the audience applauding loudly. Bravo!

After the interval we were treated to another concerto, Richard Strauss’s virtuosic Horn concerto No.1 and it was another of the orchestra’s regular players – Tom Pinnell – who stepped forward for this.

Tom Pinnell

He had told me previously that Strauss was one of his favourite composers, so this was going to be an important challenge for him. He rose to that challenge, powering through all the difficulties.

The horn is the most difficult of the brass instruments to master and hornist battle with the beast. Tom conquered the beast, his playing technically brilliant in the virtuosic sections, whilst silky-smooth in the slow ones.

The finale was a great romp and well accompanied by EMP and Derek Holland to the final note. The audience gave this talented young player the applause he deserved. Well done, Tom.

Next, Elizabeth Venner sung yet another aria, Adele’s Laughing song from Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. Again, the diction was flawless, the delivery perfect and surely there is an actor deep within her bones.

The audience was ecstatic with their applause, what a soprano voice and a find for the orchestra. Bravo Elizabeth.

Elizabether Venner
Elstree Mozart Players

The final work of the evening was an early symphony by Schubert, No.2 in B flat. Derek made the point before they started, that this was written by a young man barely 18 at the time.

The music was remarkable for such a young composer and Derek with EMP produced a stunning performance.

The stately Largo opening led to an allegro vivace which with Derek is always an Allegro, no pulling back on that.

The string players had plenty of busy, scurrying passages to play, which didn’t get any easier in the later movements especially the Finale. The slow movement – Andante was a lovely interlude between the more strident First and Scherzo movements, allowing the woodwind players to really come to the fore.

The scherzo, more of an old fashioned menuetto was like an angry wasp, while the Finale bounced along, full of life.

Did I detect the ghost of Harry Blech, the late conductor of the London Mozart Players, hovering and smiling over proceedings?

Well may be, but one thing is for sure, the audience loved the resulting performance and gave Derek and EMP loud applause, even before the final cadences had ceased. Fantastic!

Cllr . Farida Turner

At the close of the concert Cllr. Farida Turner offered a vote of thanks to all the participants of the concert, and organisers plus helpers who had made the concert such a pleasure.

With Cllr. Myers, they presented small gifts of thanks to the three soloists for the evening, Violinist Peter Bussereau, Soprano Elizabeth Venner, and Horn Soloist Tom Pinnell.

The next concert featuring Elstree Mozart Players is on Sunday 23 June 2024, 7.30pm at All Saints Church, Borehamwood, and features:

  • Peter Wilson Guard of Honour March
  • Chaminade Concertino for flute and orchestra (soloist Emma Brown)
  • Leopold Mozart Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (soloist Alison Perry)
  • Robert Docker Legend for piano and orchestra (soloist Peter Wilson)
  • Bach concerto for Violin, Oboe, and orchestra (soloists Lucy Cumming and Barry Solomon)
  • Roderick Elmer Harwich Variations
  • Leroy Anderson Forgotten Dreams
  • Mozart Symphony 31 (The Paris)               

Tickets cost £10 in advance and are £15.00 on the door with £12.00 Concessions, and will be available from the 1st of May 2024

Contact Pat Strack on 020 8386 3151 or Andrew Grady on 07802 736628 for further details.

Email elstreemozartplayers@outlook.com 

Web Site: www.elstreemozartplayers.org.uk

Tickets will also be available from the Ticket Source Web Site


Graham Wilson

EMP Concert Reviewer