Norvic Concordia at St Matthew’s Church, Rainham, Kent
Saturday 19th March 2011

St Matthew’s puts on an annual Community Concert Programme (6 to 8 Concerts per year), where musicians, internationally, nationally and locally well known are invited to perform. The aims of the programme are “Not for Profit” and “London Quality at Local Prices”. The mix of performers means that the ticket price for each concert is kept to a modest level to ensure families and older members of the local community can try and enjoy great music across of vast range of styles and genres, at an affordable cost.

Norvic Concordia were invited to perform the 4th concert in the 2010/2011 programme.  This came about as a result of two parishioners at St Matthew’s recognising Peter Ayers (Music Director of Norvic) as a fellow student in Norwich in the 60’s. Norvic’s music was listened to and it was decided that they would fit well in the series of six concerts which included “Peter and the Wolf”, “Raven” a leading ladies string quartet, “Jill Daniels” (1940’s songs), “Signature Singers” a national award winning a capella ladies choir and “Djangles” and up and coming local gypsy jazz quartet.

We were please to welcome Peter with Sue Bullen, Mary Dent, Margaret Ledger and Kevin Mitchelson. It as a great pleasure to learn that we had managed to persuade Norvic to perform outside of their normal geographic limits (we were told they normally only perform in East Anglia) crossing the Thames and braving the M25!!

A bright day dawned on the 19th and the concert was performed on a beautiful evening in front of a good sized audience of about 120, with many local accordion players having been enthused to come along after some good local newspaper publicity. Norvic’s musicianship was excellent and combined with the easy-to-listen-to programme made for a great evening. Kevin Mitchelson’s running commentary of the pieces played and his anecdotes and history of the instrument, with interjections by Peter, complemented the programme perfectly and gave an ideal balance to the evening. All the players clearly understood the audience, built up an immediate rapport and were happy to “talk accordion” at every opportunity.

Peter Ayers arranges each of the works played by Norvic and his treatment maintained the spirit, style and atmosphere of each of the pieces performed. The explanations provided of how each of the individual players contributed to the overall effect and the differences in the accordion types (I didn’t know there could be so many!!) added to the evening.

For me one of the highlights was Grieg’s Holberg Suite Gavotte, played, I felt, with sympathy and precision. The playing was accurate and highly synchronised. To learn that Norvic perform only a handful of concerts a year was a surprise (their skill suggests they perform far more than this) and even more surprising was that one of the usual ensemble was indisposed and Sue Bullen did a great job undertaking a lot of practices travelling from Cleethorpes to Norwich a couple of times a week to be an able understudy. Truly professional!!

Another favourite for me was Flamingo composed by Ted Grouya. I was probably drawn to this piece in particular because I knew the words having had them sung to me by my mum around the mid 50’s (I think we had an old recording on a 78 by Herb Jeffries).  I was able to sing along and Norvic’s encouragement of the audience to “join in” ensured that throughout the programme there was plenty of support for the other well known tunes!! Flamingo was another great arrangement by Peter Ayers.

The concert concluded with “Three Israeli Dances” and inevitably one of those was Hava Nagila. The arrangement and performance captured the true “Israeli” feel to the pieces and gave the audience one last chance to participate!!

The three pieces I have highlighted give an idea of the range of the pieces Norvic played for us. There was something for everybody and post concert there was unanimous positive and encouraging comment from the audience.

This was a well prepared and performed concert enjoyed totally by the audience. A wonderful experience for our local community and for many a brilliant introduction to accordions, their capabilities and the considerable skill needed to execute a fine performance.

Thank you Norvic.  A great show.

We are really pleased you were persuaded to make the journey south: your enthusiasm, professionalism and friendliness complemented our concert programme and we recommend you as great ambassadors for the accordion and its music. Keep it up!!

 

Paul Warren
Concert Manager
Community Concert Programme
St Matthew’s Church, Rainham, Kent