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CarmenCo in the Burgh Hall

What a busy weekend it was for Dunoon’s Burgh Hall! Hot on the heels of 3 excellent concerts by Cowal Choral Club, Sunday afternoon’s Cowal Music Club concert saw CarmenCo perform to a large very appreciative audience.

CarmenCo consists of 3 performers playing guitars, flute, and singing, and this trio (Emily Andrews –flute and voice, David Massey & Francisco Correa – guitars), was deployed very imaginatively, performing with gusto and varying the ensemble quite frequently. It was a semi-staged performance, including ‘Carmen’ (Emily Andrews) walking around in the hall, engaging with the audience from time to time, and realistic props such as dress, hats, a moustache, candles, flower cards, and a knife. Aptly described in the programme as a ”pocket opera”, it was all performed by memory, - and impressively secure. Emily also took on the role of narrator, which she acted out very convincingly, as well as singing and playing the flute – quite a tour de force!

As expected, the story of Bizet’s opera ‘Carmen’ was centre stage for the afternoon, supported by a very effective backdrop (on stage) of two large paintings by Cowal artists Don McNeil and Jean Bell. These were especially appropriate, one entitled ‘Matador and Charging Bull’; the other ‘The Swing of the Dress/Stamp of the foot’.

Apart from numerous highlights from ‘Carmen’, listeners were also treated to highly attractive and appropriate Spanish music by Albeniz, de Falla, and Rodrigo, as well as an item by Ravel, - all of it performed with real panache. After the tragic end of the opera, a ‘Fantasy on themes from Carmen’ by the French composer Borne rounded off the afternoon, bringing the concert to a very effective and at times virtuosic conclusion.

The ensemble seemed very at ease with each other, and appeared very comfortable with their performing/acting roles.

They appeared delighted with the sustained applause at the end, and their festive encore, based on ‘Jingle Bells,’ brought the afternoon to a delightful conclusion. Cowal Music Club will be delighted with the success of the first four concerts of the ‘new’ season, - the first since the pandemic.


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