Patricia Hammond, mezzo-soprano, charmed the audience last Sunday, March 9, in a concert that was a departure from the Coast Recital Society's usual presentations. The Spring Musicale was held in the more intimate surroundings of the sun-dappled St. Hilda's Church in Sechelt, and the programme was elevated by performances from the renowned Robert and Ellen Silverman on piano.
The trio had not worked together before, but professionalism reigned.
Robert Silverman has performed many times on the Coast as well as at concert halls throughout the world and with symphonies on three continents. He can also be heard frequently on the CBC playing selections from his 30 CDs. Ellen Silverman has performed as a soloist and chamber player and was coordinator of the piano department at Douglas College for 30 years.
She revealed that, in the past, she had been an adjudicator for the Sunshine Coast's Festival of the Performing Arts.
Though Hammond now lives and performs in England, she grew up on the Sunshine Coast and participated in the local music festival many times supported by her music-loving father, the late Dick Hammond, and hermother, Jo Hammond of Gibsons. She recalls listening toperformances by Robert Silverman at that time that inspired her.
In the past Hammond had confessed that she suffered terrible stage fright when performing as a teen. It's difficult to believe now. Her stage presence and confident manner showed her ease with the audience. She opened with three operatic selections including Habanera from Bizet's Carmen then switched to romantic songs from another era.
"I wanted a parlour song atmosphere," Hammond said, singing the type of music one would hear in an English parlour perhaps before the war, and followed by a cup of tea and cakes.
In fact, Hammond sang a lovely 1937 ditty by Henry Sullivan, A Nice Cup of Tea. Nostalgic songs work well for Hammond, who travels to British care homes to sing for residents. Her poignant article about this work appeared in the London Telegraph's Weekend magazine in 2010. She has also completed a circuit of British Columbia care homes, singing and reviving memories for seniors.
At Sunday's concert she sang other old-fashioned songs that have retained their lovely musical quality such as Evensong by Liza Lehmann, or music that displayed frivolous fun such as Doin' the Raccoon (better known as Don't Bring Lulu) and a yesteryear favourite, Roses of Picardy.
The Silvermans collaborated on four-hand piano performing Three Slavonic Dances, a lively and popular selection, and Three Spanish Dances by Moritz Moszkowski. Silver-man explained that the German/Polish composer Moszkowski (1854 to 1925) had career success while alive but has not been remembered today. Pity, since the three pieces were light and agreeable.
The Coast Recital Society's next Sunday concert is on March 23 and features pianist Sara Davis Buechner.
© Coast Reporter