Concert makes music history

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A MOMENT of musical history was made at the annual concert of the Eric Coates Society, held at the town’s Central Methodist Church.

Three songs composed by Hucknall-born Coates more than a century ago were sung in public for the first time.

They were performed to a full house by 18-year-old soprano Laura Roberts, who is principal soloist with the renowned Cantamus Girls Choir, of Mansfield.

The pieces were gifted to the society by Ann Parsons (62), of Devon, who discovered them after the death of her father, Charles Frizzell.

The first song, ‘Love’s Philosophy’, is dated August 26 1906 and the very short second piece, entitled ‘To A Maiden’, was written at the same time.

These two songs, both inspired by Shelley poems, are low-key but heartfelt compositions which hint at Coates’s burgeoning genius.

By way of comparison, Laura also sang a version of ‘Love’s Philosophy’ by Roger Quilter which was a lot more passionate and intense.

The jaunty rhythm of the third song, ‘Tit For Tat’, to words by William Lyle, made it much more recognisable as a Coates composition.

Laura said she felt honoured and delighted to have been invited to sing the three songs, appropriately in the town where Coates was born. Her piano accompanist was Michael Neaum.

The rest of the concert was a triumph for internationally-acclaimed concert pianist Haruko Seki, who is an ardent champion of Coates’s music.

She conjured up pure magic from the humble church piano in a programme which included arrangements of such Coates smash hits as ‘By The Sleepy Lagoon’ and ‘The Knightsbridge March’.

These are usually heard in their orchestral versions but Seki’s virtuoso playing provided all the power and sensitivity anyone could have wished for.

Wearing a stunning crimson dress, Seki devoted part of her programme to three ‘Lyric Pieces’ by Coates, which he composed while recovering from pneumonia and ddedicated to his sister-in-law, Joanne.

n OUR PHOTO shows Michael, Haruko and Laura before the concert — DISPIC NHUD12-2606-1