Although it wasn’t an especially cold autumn evening, the church heating had only just switched on shortly before the performance was due to start.
But within the space of a few bars, K’antu Ensemble had raised the temperature significantly with its programme of music from Spain and South America – and without a single llama, pan-pipe or poncho in sight, helping to create the illusion.
Such was the constant enthusiasm and sheer energy of these six young multi-instrumentalists, that they very soon had everyone in the large audience responding to their music. However, the real Secret of the Incas was when they seamlessly broke into vocal harmony – simple, yet so perfectly fashioned.
Soprano Ruth Hopkins effectively led the ensemble with her attractive and totally idiomatic singing, as well as navigating her listeners through the programme by way of short, yet highly-informative spoken introductions, so vital in this fascinating yet little-heard material, sung in a variety of older forms of various indigenous languages.
With captivating performances from Michelle Holloway and Sarah Langdon (recorders), the tremendous rhythmic drive from baroque-guitarist and charango-player Ben Mitchell, solid bass-line and fine voice of Andrew Hopper (viola da gamba}, and inspired, yet never-overpowering percussion-playing from Tymoteusz Jozwiak, there were certainly far more tricks and treats here than you’d ever get at an average Halloween party – and certainly with more than enough intoxication to go round.
PHILIP R BUTTALL