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London Mozart heralds triumphal return of Newbury Spring Festival

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London Mozart Players with Newbury Spring Festival Chorus at St Nicolas’ Church on Saturday, May 7. Review by FIONA BENNETT

In 1999, an advert appeared in the Newbury Weekly News, asking for local altos and tenors to join a newly formed choir – the Newbury Spring Festival Chorus. They had already begun rehearsals for Haydn’s The Seasons, I managed to sneak in beneath the audition radar and became one of the choir’s very first second altos.

Sadly, my musical diary clashed this year and I wasn’t able to take part in the opening night of the first May Spring Festival since 2019 with my many singing buddies, but I was asked to review the concert and so, for the very first time, I was ‘out front’ on the night.

London Mozart Players at St Nics
London Mozart Players at St Nics

The London Mozart Players, under the expert and unflappable baton of Stephen Barlow, accompanied the choir so well; the balance was perfect and the combined vocal sound reached the very back of St Nics with aplomb.

As ever, Mark Eynon and his team have attracted some of the finest talent in the world of classical music and our soloists, Sophie Bevan (soprano), Ema Nikolovska (mezzo), James Way (tenor) and Julien Van Mellaerts (baritone) made us catch our collective breath on more than one occasion during the evening.


I have sung behind Sophie several times so to hear her glorious voice from the audience was an absolute treat and a highlight of the Mozart Vesperae solennes de Confessore was when the choir joined her in the best loved movement, Laudate Dominum, it really was magical. Ema’s gorgeous voice, effortless technique and astonishing swooping intervals in Il Tenero tormento from Mozart’s Lucio Silla won her a rapturous ovation from the delighted capacity St Nics audience.

The orchestra was on top form; some delicious oboe playing, brilliant trumpets, lush horns and trombones complemented the top notch string section whose own moment in the spotlight, the Divertimento in D Major, really hit the spot. A deft, neat and beautifully Mozartian performance; chamber music at its best.

I could write several more pages about the opening night of the 2022 Newbury Spring Festival but sadly, I will have to leave it here.

A brilliant orchestra, a world class conductor, top soloists and our very own festival chorus, expertly prepared by chorusmaster Tom Primrose. It was a truly inspiring evening, we all left St Nics floating on a cloud of Mozart-magic and I’ve never been more proud of the Newbury Spring Festival Chorus.

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