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10. Concerti di Mezzogiorno

Going to bed way after midnight meant a late rise next day. The perfect 'wake me up' process following a shower, qwuick dress and frugal breakfast soon became the eagerly anticipated series of midday chamber recitals.

Concerti di Mezzogiorno (Midday concerts) poster for Spoleto 2001

Under the supervision of Scott Nickrenz, the fast-talking, pantella-smoking American viola player, and introduced by his irrepressible and glamorous flautest wife, Paula Robison, these comprised 17 events, keenly balanced by the same number of artists. Nominated 'The Jewel in the Crown' in the Festival since 1960, the range of virtuoso talents on display in a finely-chosen selection of great music gave enormous prestige to the concerts as a whole, and to everyone involved.

Paula Robison - 'Miss America'. Photo: Bill Newman

The informal surroundings of a cosy-lit Cafe Melisso lent an aura of relaxation to performers and audiences alike. When Maestro Menotti in his loggia complained to Paula that he couldn't hear her, she uproariously laughed then burst into song. Her daily process was to make her announcements in Italian, then English, with notes brandished aloft in case she missed a vital point.

The audience loved her, especially when she got in an occasional muddle while Scott was timing the artist entries from the wings. National Broadcasting Radio was on the highest tier of boxes recording it all. What a shame that the BBC is not interested in transmission.

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Copyright © 11 December 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK






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