Review: Moore makes more holiday magic

Blended voices of opera singer Melina Moore and jazz diva Judy Rose, with special guests, gets audience in the spirit.

Pianist Jim Leonard

Pianist Jim Leonard

Another year; another Christmas with Melina Moore & Co.  And another opportunity to enjoy the elixir of the blended voices of Moore and jazz diva Judy Rose.

This year’s audience was treated to even more of these two mistresses of song. In mellifluous harmony, each trod the other’s turf: Rose with Ave Maria and Moore with If We Only Have Love translated by Rose into French, as “si nous avons l’amour seulement” from the musical Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

To misquote one “mini diva” who apparently high-fived another mini diva after their performance: “They (we) rocked!”

Moore and Rose’s relaxed repartee and good humour also delighted the audience. Even their gowns blended –– Moore in red flounce and Rose in serene olive green. Rose’s simple short dark hair contrasted Moore’s extravagant blonde curls. But their physical appearance became irrelevant once they exhibited their seemingly effortless vocal prowess.

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, sung (even better) for the second consecutive year, was on a par with k.d. lang’s rendition at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Despite a rather slow start, the rest of the concert did not disappoint.

Eleven-year-old Justin Moore, whose hands just managed to make the cuffs of his white sports jacket, was promoted to singing two full-length duets with his mother.  His Venite adoramus dominum won the hearts of the audience.  The rapport between mother and son evoked smiles and chuckles, particularly with jokes like, “What did Adam say on December 24? … It’s Christmas, Eve!”  And The Prayer, though not yet up to Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban standard, was certainly on its way.

Company Junior’s interpretation of Jingle Bells, as it has evolved through time, was a hit too. These versatile young performers went from flappers to rappers, via vaudeville, hippy, boogie and rock ‘n’ roll –– with a real live Elvis, gyrated by Sun FM’s Brian Martin who, at times, had the audience, as well as Moore, in stitches.

Accompanist Jim Leonard must not go unmentioned.  Backstage, he said in his gentle, unassuming way, “I’m here to make the artists look good.” And he succeeded. His appearance was reminiscent of a Ronald Searle cartoon as he merged unobtrusively with both piano and artist. However, his humility did not hide his talent, especially when Moore sang his musical translation of Pie Jesu.

Moore also sang the Christmas classic O Holy Night exactly as it should be, without a trace of crooning sentimentality.

The evening was topped off with the song, Love Can Build a Bridge, suggested by production manager Sandra Larsen. In fact, Moore dedicated it to Larsen in tribute to her support, efficiency and constancy. And we all joined in.

As we left, words resonated from The Prayer, based on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s poem used by Alcoholics Anonymous in their 12-step program: “Lead us to a place; guide us with your grace; give us faith so we’ll be safe.”

So, here’s to a safe and Merry Christmas and another Melina & Co. concert, with even more of Moore and Rose in 2012, or perhaps even two concerts: one featuring Moore and Rose and the other showcasing the talent of Valley Vocal Arts.

–– Christine Pilgrim is a freelance writer who regularly reviews the North Okanagan Community Concert season and other shows for The Morning Star.