"This concert's a game of two halves" explained host Richard Ingham, as he introduced the evening's programme. And, indeed, two dazzling halves lay ahead. The first featured pianist Phillip Leslie and soprano Amy Strachan, currently studying in Manchester and Glasgow respectively (both supported by The Cross Trust). Phillip opened the programme with a calm and thoughtful interpretation of Pagodes from Debussy's Estampes, followed by a sizzling contrast with a passionate and fiery performance of Bartok's Sonata SZ.80.
Phillip remained at the keyboard to accompany, with great sensitivity, Amy Strachan's performance choices. Ranging from two sumptuous arias (Massenet and Dvorak) to interpretations of Scots poems by composers Lysbeth Melvin and Roger Quilter - all of which were a glorious showcase of Amy's talents as a performer: wit, fun, charm and great stage presence underpinned by the emotional intelligence of her magnificently powerful voice.
Phillip and Amy are shown in the photo at the top of this article.
Lighting dimmed at the start of the second half and an appreciative audience was transported to a world of New York cocktail bars, late nights hanging out in cafes and the ups and downs of revisiting oud haunts. Five compositions, by pianist Alan Benzie or saxophonist Helena Kay, created musical landscapes with breath-taking virtuosity (lightly worn). Alan and Helena, whose studies were supported by The Cross Trust, introduced each piece - sharing with us the inspiration behind their musical thinking. Any expectations of what 'jazz musicians' might typically deliver were turned upside down as adjectives such as 'wistful', 'dreamy', 'haunting' and 'melodic' might best desribe their concert performance.
Alan and Helena are shown above.
The Cross Trust has again been proud to be part of the Perth Festival of the Arts and the Trust's sponsorship of this annual concert is the perfect showcase for the burgeoning talent the Trust typically supports. In addition to their exceptional musicianship, the four artists each created a relaxed and inclusive ambience by talking the audience through their programme choices, as well as warmly acknowledging the importance of The Cross Trust to their porfessional studies and development.
Trustee Richard Ingham is the inspiration and energetic co-ordinator of The Cross Trust Artists of the Year concerts, and The Cross Trust is indebted to him.