Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Ben McAteer: Onstage chemistry a beautiful thing

Unfortunately, gone are the days when the BMS, the current equivalent of the British Music Society, could command an audience of hundreds. At the first of its Northern Lights mini-fest in Queen's University's Harty Room, there was a disappointingly low turnout for a recital which deserved a full house.

Newry born baritone Ben McAteer won the first Northern Ireland Opera Festival of Voice competition two years ago. Since graduating as a chemist, wisely he has been studying in London as a vocalist.

His voice has continued to improve exponentially and, on Sunday afternoon, it was quite clear that this young man, still in his mid-20s, has a potentially great career ahead of him.

His diction is clear and expressive, his stage manner easy and confident, and the top register of his range particularly rich and strong. The lowest register will grow in strength as he matures with age.

But what beautiful sounds and considered performances he and his excellent pianist/accompanist Catherine Norton produced. Together, especially in the songs by Quilter, Vaughan Williams and Finzi, they plumbed the emotional core of the music and conveyed the humour, the pathos, the light heartedness and the occasional gravity of the texts and settings.

Don't miss the next in the BMS series on Sunday, October 20.

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