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The first of the drawing room entertain* ments given by this company in Dunedin attracted a very large audience to the Choral Hall last evening, many of the later arrivals being unable to find sitting accommodation. Those of the audience who were not influenced by extravagant expectations were, it may be conjectured, not only satisfied but delighted with the singing of Mr Payne’s accomplished daughters and their colleagues. The company excel In part singing. Miss Lizzie and Miss Nellie have light clear treble voices that harmonise so perfectly as to give a listener the impression that but one voice is sustaining the melody; Miss Maud, a demure damsel of perhaps fifteen or sixteen summers, supplies a rich contralto, surprisingly heavy for a mere girl; MrW. J. Payne and Mr Ralph Steele are serviceable baritones; and M r Payne, senior, fills in the tenor part. These six voices provide well-balanced harmony, and long practice together has resulted in a oneness of method that is seldom met with; or in other words, the singers are naturally suited for each other, and to this advantage they have added the art of sinking the individual voices for the sake of combined effect. The outcome is that they sing properly and acceptably. This was evident from the outset, the first item on the programme being Hart’s part-song ‘ The Bella ’—a plain arrangement, the simplicity of which might lead superficial singers to despise it, but which, as treated by the Payne family, was a rare treat. That well-known slave song ‘ Steal away to Jesus ’ was also interpreted with charming expression, and subsequently the full company gave a tasteful rendering of ‘ The old year is dying,’ and a soft chorus after the minstrel type. Anyone who could seriously ciiticisc the part singing of this sestette would indeed be hard to please. The company also acquit themselves fairly well as soloists. Miss Lizzie is the bulwark of the company in this branch of the work, her voice being pure and even in tone throughout its compass ; though, if we may be allowed to say so without giving offence, this young lady hardly did herself justice in her principal solo ‘ Waiting,’ the song being taken rather hurriedly. Mr Steele is also a pleasing solo singer. He has a fair range, his notes are all of one quality, and he is, we should conceive, gifted with a peculiarly sensitive ear, which will not allow him to get the least shade out of tune. That, at any rate, is the impression wo formed after hearing this gentleman’s singing in ‘ Queen of the earth ’ and other trying selections. Mr Steele has also some capacity as a humorist. Miss Nellie sang ‘ The Cuckoo ’ so well as to receive an encore, and in answer to the recall she favored us with that pretty ditty ‘ No, sir,’ a song that she well knows how to give proper effect to. Miss Maud is rather young to shine as a soloist just yet, but she was encored for her singing of ‘ 0 steer my bark.’ It was in response to this demand that the audience were treated to the best instrumental solo of the evening, Miss Maud’s playing of ‘The mocking bird ’ on the violin. Miss Maud bows with gracefulness, stops almost faultlessly, has evidently practised with assiduity to master the details of rapid execution, and plays in a reposeful and sympathetic style that bespeaks love for her study. We regard Miss Maud as a very promising student. Both of her sisters also play the violin, but have apparently not advanced so far as Miss Maud in the study of that instrument. It should be added that all the members of the company seem to be able to play the piano. We had no pianoforte solos on last night’s programme, but the young ladies played the accompaniments in such correct style as to suggest that they have had much practice. Miss Lizzie is a particularly good accompanist. Most of the items on the programme were encored, but the management lost no time, and we remarked with satisfaction that this really pleasing concert was brought to a termination very shortly after ten o’clock, in time to allow suburban residents to catch their cars,'

Mr Payne announced that there would be a change of programme this evening. The Dunedin season closes to morrow evening, after which the company play in the suburbs,

Irving’s profit out of * Macbeth ’ is reckoned at LSOO a week.

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THE PAYNE FAMILY., Issue 7907, 15 May 1889

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THE PAYNE FAMILY. Issue 7907, 15 May 1889

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