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Newbury Spring Festival enjoys a taste of the US of A

Newbury Spring Festival: A Taste of America: Miranda Heldt, soprano, and Jamie Safir, piano

at the Vineyard at Stockcross

on Monday, May 13


Miranda Heldt, soprano, and Jamie Safir, piano
Miranda Heldt, soprano, and Jamie Safir, piano

The evening should have begun with enjoying a balmy May evening sipping ‘champagne‘ in the Vineyard garden! But in the comfortable interior of the hotel the drizzle did not dampen the spirits of all those who attended.

This was an evening with a difference, combining a supper, a wine tasting and a concert. The 80 or so audience were welcomed by the Vineyard hosts with a glass of Undurraga Royal, Rose Brut from Chile which was full flavoured, crisp and dry. This gave everyone a chance to mingle and enjoy the surroundings.

The ‘guests’ were then shown into the dinning room. The seating was allocated to avoid confusion. Seated 10 to each beautifully laid table the supper began with a short introduction to the wines which accompanied the meal. And it was certainly ‘A Taste of America’ - Cheeseburger sliders, Corn on the Cob, Mac’n’cheese Bites, Red cabbage slaw and Buffalo Wings all served on sharing platters.

Miranda Heldt, soprano, and Jamie Safir, piano
Miranda Heldt, soprano, and Jamie Safir, piano

It was a delicious feast accompanied by three wine samples - A Torrontes from Argentina, a Riesling form New York and a Tannat from Uruguay. All the wines were good. This was followed by Cheesecake with blueberry compote- particularly tasty! The meal was completed by tea and coffee.

NSF chairman Graham Barker, then introduced the musicians, Miranda Heldt, soprano, and Jamie Safir, piano who gave a wonderful recital of well-loved American songs , including I’ve got you under my Skin (Cole Porter), Taking a chance on love (Vernon Duke), Ain’t misbehavin’ (Andy Razaf and Fats Waller) and Satin Doll (Duke Ellington).

Miranda’s clear, beautifully focused voice, Jamie’s brilliant skill as a jazz pianist and the seamless teamwork between the two performers admirably put into practice a paragraph in the excellent programme notes – ‘the first thing to strike the listener was the interpretation by the performers, on whom the emotional communication of the sound depended’.

This was a wonderfully convivial evening and the audience left the evening Singing in the Rain (Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, arranged Safir).

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