Text by Rona Murray, photographs by Aurelien Godenir

Whether you were at the showcase or unfortunately missed it, don’t forget the ESME Summer Concert on the 13th of July at 18:00 in the Kulturzentrum, Trudering. It’s going to be Hot, Hot, Hot!

How do you describe the audience noise pre ESME Spring Showcase? A hubbub, a chattering, even a coo-ing of voices?  Whatever springs to your mind, there was anticipation in the air on that last Sunday in April in Halle 1 at Einstein Kultur for the ESME Spring Showcase.

The concert opened, courtesy of the fabulous lighting from the equally fabulous Hans, as if in a purple, velveteen music box.  In the dark, the box sprung open with the choir’s opening blast of fresh Spring air: a ‘Cantate Domino’ (a capella), strong, clear and bell- like through all the different layers of voices. As a surprise,  the stylus hit a new groove straight away with ‘Elijah Rock’, with its gospel rhythmic bursts and tight, quiet choral humming. 

So, early then, it was a proper variety (chocolate) box of traditional and modern treats.    The classical note reappeared with Elaine Cole and Caro Kelley and divine  ‘Blessed Spirits’.  It’s Spring, so what lover does not try their best to find a mate? Try either ‘Mon Coeur se Recommande a Vous’ or ‘Matona Mia Cara’: In the hands of the quartet “The False Relations” – Linda Oppermann, Thomas Padel, Stefano Ceolin and Bryony Preynat – – it turned into a beautiful, four-part harmony.  The cellist trio of Victor Galea, Clara Müller and Richard Bromham then struck an elegiac note with ‘Requiem’, moving us from a minor to a major key.  Rebirth beckons! 

If Spring means new life, then several pieces celebrated this by reimagining older songs, breathing fresh energy through them.  Jorge Cristobal and Linus Heckemann found a dynamic stillness in Bob Dylan’s ‘Make you Feel my Love’ retold as a quiet song of unrequited love. By contrast, Jana Huß and Linus tripped up Franz Ferdinand’s punk posturing, turning it into a song  – ‘Take Me Out’ –  ‘a deux’ for all of us who have watched the party from the sidelines.  The jazz ensemble grew before our eyes with Davy Kazan, Elaine Cole, Rebecca Sadler and Theo Kazan who reinvented ‘The Way you Look Tonight’ to get even us wallflowers moving! 

The Spring Showcase, then, was definitely all about the romance.  But if the audience was now coo-ing comfortably in their perches, they needed to be more alert!  Enter three wise women – Annie Janssen, Emily Burnell Petrou, and Eva Netzhammer – to sing of the magpie, symbol of love and romance (Eastern cultures) versus symbol of evil (Western).  They incanted, with measured harmony, that ‘devil, devil, we defy thee’.  We were in safe hands with them and, therefore – possibly – in a friendly relationship with our feathered friends. 

Or maybe not, when birds gathered again for a fateful rendezvous on Julie Chalfin’s balcony. She followed up with a bright, upbeat invitation on a date to ‘poison pigeons in the park.’

The last ensemble performed a blistering rendition of Billy Joel’s ‘Root Beer Rag’, with  Linda Oppermann, Frances Hughes and Mark Hammond, who were joined half way through by Bryony Preynat, Ryanne Leong and Brian Eve on trombone who added a delightful, comedic touch.

The choir then returned and, by the looks of things, a few of them had had a drink (and it wasn’t root beer) at the bar in the interval as they wondered what to do with a ‘Drunken Sailor’. After a lot of rollicking (or rowlocking), stamping of feet and mysterious nautical terms, no conclusion was reached, so they moved on the grand finale – continuing the aquatic theme with an emotional yet energetic ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’.

Less coo-ing, then, but this offer – as with all the other ensembles – was irresistible.  Grand or intimate, bold or soothing – the musical harmonies weaved around us making for a lovely atmosphere, sing to each of us and all of us together as to a loved one:  “and so it goes, and so it goes” and “you’re the only one who knows.”

We hope to see you all on the 13th of July!