It was the German pieces by Wolf and the operatic arias and songs from Puccini, Handel, Mendelssohn and Britten that first registered attention. As if coming from somewhere in heaven, an aural beauty was heralded into the Archer Room of the Hole in the Wall as Australian soprano Rachael Somers ferried the astonishing clarity of her singing back to the Nore Valley – in the shadow of the Castlecomer plateau of her Kilkenny roots.
Born in Perth, to a Castlecomer father who had left for Australia in the 1970s, and now resident and working from Fulham, London, Rachael had made a particular request to Michael Somers to organise a performance at the Hole in the Wall after a visit to her relatives about a month ago. Recognising the quality of the acoustics and sensing the energy that many performers have remarked on, she returned with her accompanist, Philadelphia-born William Dougherty, to christen the Archer Room with a full classical performance.
The concert turned out to be something of a Somers clan gathering – with visitors to Kilkenny from north of Castlecomer and from as far south as Slieverue. They, as well as 40 others, were enthralled by the intimate performance.
Introducing the concert, Dr Michael Conway observed that it was fitting that a Kilkenny descendent should be the first to ever knowingly sing a classical concert at the Hole in the Wall. And her perfect tones heralded the voices of angels past in a repertoire that included Nella Fantasia by Ennio Morricone, Time to Say Goodbye from Andrea Bocelli, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and an encore with Danny Boy (especially for her uncle).
Rachael has expressed the wish to return and a date in April 2012 is pencilled in to coincide with German Week at the Hole in the Wall.