‘Flu cancels Sidmouth concert at eleventh hour

Pianist struck by gastric flu forces Sidmouth Concert Society to cancel concert

THE worst nightmare for any concert promoter must be that the main or only performer falls ill just before the show, and that is what befell Sidmouth Concert Society at the weekend.

On Saturday morning, just hours before the 3:00pm performance, the society received a call from tenor Andrew Tortise to say pianist Nicola Eimer, his planned accompanist, had succumbed to a bout of gastric ‘flu overnight.

With no time to make sensible alternative performance arrangements, organisers began ringing round members to warn of the cancellation, but those who had bought tickets in local outlets had no forewarning, receiving the bad news as they turned up for the performance.

A substitution would probably have been difficult even given time, as the set of songs to be performed are quite complex. The programme was to include three song cycles: Debussy’s F�tes Galantes, settings of poems by Paul Verlaine; Benjamin Britten’s On this Island, of poems by WH Auden, and a Schubert masterpiece; Die Sch�ne M�llerin, the incomparable story of the fair maid of the mill.

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In the last few years, the society has had a couple of near misses, when either accident or extreme weather caused panic just a week ahead of the performances, but the few days’ grace was enough time to organise a substitution.

It was not to be the case this time.

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Ironically it was Nicola who saved the day for the society on the last of those earlier incidents, by stepping in at a few days’ notice in place of Anthony Zerpa-Falcon, who had slipped on ice and hurt his hand.

Then she produced a stunning performance, described as “a pianistic exhibition of sheer grace and delicacy”.

Members had been looking forward to hearing Nicola again, as well as Andrew, who is gaining a solid reputation as one of the country’s promising young tenors from his performances, both solo and alongside major singers such as Bryn Terfel.

It is hoped to re-organise the concert as soon as possible. Euterpe

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