The COC Orchestra Academy program is a mentorship scheme for young orchestral musicians providing a bridge between student and professional life somewhat akin to the Ensemble Studio for singers and pianists. Today at noon in the RBA we gort the chance to see the current crop in action in all baroque program featuring Jacqueline Woodley as soprano soloist.
The program broke into three parts; two sets of three Handel arias bookended the Corelli Concerto grosso in G minor, Op 6, No.8. The Handel was all Italian opera and ranged widely in mood from the fierce Morirò, me vendicata from Teseo and Scoglio d’immota fronte from Scipio to the sad and beautiful Lascia ch’io pianga from Rinaldo and the more chipper Tornami a vagheggiar from Alcina with oboe replacing the usual honky horns. Jacquie’s approach was very much heart on sleeve whichever emotion was in play. Perhaps at times precision was sacrificed for drama but I’d much rather have that than technically perfect and lifeless, besides it’s a lovely voice to listen to. People who think Handel operas are boring should hear it sung this way.
The Corelli was interesting. There’s obviously real chemistry in the group; both the youngsters and the old hands. This was very much chamber music, albeit on a largish scale (4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, bass and harpsichord). There was a clear sense of a conversation, especially between first and second violin, and that almost improvisatory element that makes baroque music a bit different from later periods. Very nice indeed.