Foothills Music Club gets a rave

Published 2:53 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Foothills Music Club presented their scholarship winners at FENCE in what amounted to a tour de force of music making talent. I was glad I was not called upon to judge them, because as I heard each performance I thought “This is Number One!” So I pick four first place winners . . .

The Foothills programmers know good theater requires a great curtain raiser and similar closing act. They chose tenor Alex Harrelson, and he certainly delivered for them (and us!). His voice seems to have become bigger and fuller, as he delivered some mighty phrases in the lower range of his voice. Then he exhibited very fine breath control in his final appearance by sustaining full tone in an almost sotto voce rendering that his accompanist Pam McNeil supported equally softly from the piano. Of course his La donna ѐ mobile brought down the house as we erupted in thunderous applause.

Next up was the perennially unassuming Gabe Turner in tux and brilliant solo performances. He reappeared several more times as accompanist and composer as well as soloist. Known for his affinity for baroque music, he proved he was equally at home in the more modern idiom of Debussy. I asked him if the tux was rented, and he said that, no, he bought it. Good move. He’ll need it many times before he outgrows it.

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Next was Jamie Riedy in a white suit and generous with facial expressions and varied stance as he sang all that Italian convincingly. When he returned later to sing “C’est moi” (my High School French is not too rusty to understand that) it became obvious why he was attired in white when all the other males wore formal black.

Jamie’s sister Kate opened with a tearjerker story in song (I also had to wipe tears) also illustrated with facial expressions which supported the story line and all the rest of her singing. I thought she had a lovely voice in all ranges, not a different voice in high, medium or low as some mezzo sopranos exhibit. When her sibling joined her for a duet love song, he took her offered hand, not too awkwardly, and held it—briefly.

Of course the inimitable and irrepressible Pam McNeil’s accompaniments were all “just right.”

As the founder of the Foothills Music Club, intended to encourage members to maintain their skills by regular performances for the group as well as public concerts, Lesley Oakes was given an enthusiastic standing ovation by all present. She responded by covering her face with her hands. The Club has added scholarships in recent years, and this program was offered to showcase the current winners. They certainly chose well; notice that I am raving.

Garland Goodwin, Columbus, N.C.