Last updateFri, 01 May 2015 7pm

Baritone Fernando Loher: one for the future

Last Sunday’s concert by baritone Fernando Loher at the Centro Cultural Gonzalez Gallo was an impressive performance. One of several fund-raisers for his upcoming studies in Berlin, his selection of Bel Canto and Latin American songs provided the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the full range of his exceptional voice.

A remarkably talented young singer, Loher has trained with some of the top maestros since he began singing at eleven, and it shows. His vocal range, delivery and confidence belie his 26 years. Unlike many professional singers twice his age, every single word is clearly articulated and none is sacrificed in favour of “the musical muse,” where enunciation concedes to the melody and the listener is left wondering what the words are, or frantically searching through the relevant libretto to find out.

Piano accompaniment was provided by the highly qualified soloist Marco Antonio Rodríguez who is also an organist and composer and has played with many of the well-known names in Mexico and Japan.

The program opened with Loher on the balcony above the audience, singing Dandini’s aria “Come un’ ape ne’ giorni d’aprile” from Rossini’s “La Cenerentola.” It was a great piece of theatre and much appreciated, as were the superb acoustics of this attractive space, which showcased his wonderful baritone voice.

Donizetti’s lovely “Bella siccome un angelo,” Malatesta’s aria from “Don Pasquale,” followed and then the short “Or dove fuggo io mai?  Ah, per sempre” from Bellini’s “I Puritani” which was very moving and strongly sung with exceptionally clear diction.

Expertly accompanied by Paola Olmedo on mandolin. Mozart’s “Deh, vieni all finestra” from “Don Giovanni” was just beautiful. Closing the first half, the piano’s forceful introduction of Bellini’s “Torna vezzosa fillide” unfortunately continued at the same level into the accompaniment, disappointingly drowning out Loher’s voice on several occasions.

Opening with Ivakke’s melodic “Azulão” after the intermission, Loher sang a Catalan Christmas song “El cant dels ocells” (the song of the birds), accompanied by Cristina Olvera’s skillful cello playing. A complicated choice, the melody was rather slow and almost mournful, but as the species of bird isn’t specified, perhaps the title refers to Christmas turkeys?

Loher dedicated the lullaby, “Cancion de cuna para dormir a un negrito,” to his mother, explaining that she taught it to him as a child. It was delightful. “Te quiero, dijise” by Grever was very powerful and emotive and again, Loher’s clear enunciation ensured a remarkable performance. 

Montsalvatge’s “Canto negro” followed but again, the piano and voice seemed to battle for dominance and the words were difficult to discern, as they were also, during the closing piece, Ziegler’s “Rojo Tango,”

The audience loudly demanded an encore and was rewarded by Leigh and Darion’s “Impossible Dream” superbly delivered in English, producing a long and enthusiastic standing ovation for Loher and his accompanists.

There is no doubt that Loher’s star is on the rise. With his unassuming confidence, personality and magnificent voice, Fernando Loher is a name that we will be hearing a lot more of in the future.