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London Mozart Players (photo: LMP website).

London Mozart Players (photo: LMP).

London Mozart Players replace Poole as Opus’ resident artist

Opus Theatre has a new residency – the London Mozart Players. They will take over from the present incumbent, pianist Oliver Poole. He gave his last concert in the inaugural World Series featuring leading international musicians last Saturday, 5 October, accompanying soprano Tamara Radjenovic in an evening of operatic and Balkan songs. HOT’s music correspondent Brian Hick was there for the occasion.

International operatic soprano Tamara Radjenovic made a flying visit to the Opus Theatre last weekend before shooting off to prepare for her next Carnegie Hall concert. It is a mark of how well Opus Theatre has established itself in such a short time that it has encouraged so many international singers and musicians to perform at this intimate venue in the heart of Hastings.

Pianist Oliver Poole is coming to the end of his time as artist in residence, though he will continue to maintain strong links with the venue, if only because of its magnificent piano which he has demonstrated with such skill and innate musicality as accompanist, soloist and with superb improvisations.

Oliver Poole (photo: Opus Theatre).

Oliver Poole (photo: Opus Theatre).

I met up with them just before last Saturday’s concert, in time to hear Tamara singing Puccini’s Quando m’en vo. Though the composer is eternally popular, he is actually very difficult to perform as the arias in particular allow for rubato in almost every bar. This is a challenge for both of them. A hack accompanist would simply churn out the notes – deadly if at least supportive – but a singer hopes for much more and Oliver’s improvisatory approach leads to an extra level of frisson where singer and pianist have to listen more carefully to each other, and trust each other. It is very exciting to see them working together.

Tamara really welcomed the chance to work with Oliver at the Opus, relishing the intimacy of the venue as well as its superb acoustic. “You can really feel the music here, sense the way the audience are responding to every note as it happens.” Oliver feels that she has a particular affinity with each character she brings to life, inhabiting the personality like a method actor would on the stage, rather than simply singing the part. It makes for a much more challenging performance, and one which communicates with its immediacy.

They are both passionate about bringing classical music to new and often younger audiences. It has been a feature of Oliver’s time as artist in residence to draw on as wide a range of performers and music as possible, and keep prices as low as possible. The problem is world-wide. Tamara is from Montenegro, and while audiences there are very supportive, warm and appreciative, all events have to be really well promoted to ensure that those interested actually know they are happening.

Their concert of opera and Balkan songs at the Opus Theatre on Saturday evening was strongly attended and they were glad to see the Mayor, who is an enthusiastic supporter of live music-making, among the large audience.

 

Artists in residence for the 2019/20 season at Opus Theatre are the London Mozart Players. They give their first concert, works by Mozart, Grieg and Haydn, on Saturday 30 November with pianist Lauren Zhang, BBC Young Musician of 2018, and local flautist Daisy Noton.

 

 

 

Posted 14:14 Wednesday, Oct 9, 2019 In: Music & Sound

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