Funtington Music Group welcome back past prize winners for their Christmas special

Tina Gelnere
Tina Gelnere

REVIEW BY Chris Linford

The Funtington Music Group Christmas Special on 12 December took place at the University of Chichester.

The Group welcomed back two former Chichester University graduates who were also previous Prize Winners of the Funtington Music Group’s prestigious Robert Headley Prize. Erin Alexander won in 2016 and Tina Gelnere in 2018. Both have gone on to pursue post-graduate careers at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The two singers performed an amazingly varied programme that included works by 17 composers with a full 24 pieces in total. Chris Coote, in fact Treasurer of the Funtington Music Group, accompanied. His performance always did more than support, yet never overwhelmed or eclipsed the singing voice. A real partnership in action.

The programme opened with a performance of Mister Snow from Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein, sung by Erin Alexander. The two soloists then took it is turns and Tina Gelnere opened with Voi, che sapete from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

Both singers have attractive voices and sang with a keen awareness of the nuances of the text. They both met the varied linguistic and stylistic challenges of this varied programme ranging from Handel to Mozart to Puccini, Verdi, Rachmaninoff, Bizet and Debussy and produced some outstanding musical gems. They were equally skilful in adding humour, vocal colour, and sometimes a touch of the ridiculous, to their interpretations, so that the audience quickly warmed to and appreciated their performance and choice of music.

One could not help but admire the wide range of musical genres that this programme demanded, and the challenges that this created for the performers. Both soloists in their own way understood the full range of emotions that these varied operatic pieces demanded, and they were most effective in producing a very satisfying performance.

Erin Alexander, in the second half, had chosen three French pieces, including Debussy’s Beau Soir, where she was particularly impressive and mellifluously expressive. Tina Gelhere had chosen to sing three songs from Rachmaninoff, which she sang with a combination of gracefulness and energy, and was particularly moving with her performance of When Silent Night Doth Hold Me. The duets which the singers chose were particularly well-received, especially Ah Guarda Sorella from Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutti.

Following an hilarious encore (the ‘Meow’ duet), Chris Hough, Chairman of the Funtington Music Group, said, “This was a wonderfully entertaining concert from two gifted singers. They are obviously going to have a very bright future!”

Further details of the Funtington Music Group can be obtained from the Membership Secretary, Mrs Elizabeth Brooks, on 01243 378900.

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