CN LESTER AND TOBY CARR
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It’s not often GT spends Monday night in a church – but we broke tradition yesterday to hear marvellous mezzo soprano CN Lester with the talented Toby Carr on guitar. Lumen United Reform Church, situated near London’s Kings Cross, provided the ideal setting for modern classical music: stylish, minimal design is juxtaposed with stained-glass windows which look through to another era. It was an interesting venue for a decidedly queer concert.
We arrived late, but just in time for Five Lullabies (only four of which were performed) poems by queer activist and author Roz Kaveney, adapted by Phillip Lawton. It wasn’t long before we were mesmerised – literally entranced – by the sounds emanating from CN and Toby. Who knew a guitar could sound so enchanting, so ethereal? The backs of people’s heads began to look more attractive. The walls seemed the glow. The music ignited a heightened sense of beauty. It was magical.
It was like the opposite of watching X-Factor. It cleared the mind.
The title songs are by Peter Maxwell Davies – pretty much the most important composer in the country at the moment (he's Master of the Queen's Music). And, of course, he’s gay. CN’s charismatic performance captured the drama of these pieces perfectly. The vocal talent was unquestionable, and the staccato highs and lows helped shake the hypnosis after Toby’s guitar solos by Davies and Benjamin Britten.
This sort of music doesn’t come without endless hours of rehearsal and the rapturous applause was well deserved. As if that wasn’t enough, there was homemade carrot cake for afters. Beats faffing around on Facebook all night, right?
Catch CN and Toby perform Dark Angels at this year’s Manchester Pride, Friday 24th August at 1pm, at the Cosmo Rodewald Hall, the Martin Harris Centre, Manchester University, Bridgeford Street, Manchester M13 9PL. Tickets are free so no need to book.