Review of Ely Choral Society’s Christmas Concert at St. Mary’s Church, Ely: A King is Born.

Ely Choral Society is producing some wonderful music these days. Under the baton of Andrew Parnell, the choir has become richer and richer in sound and in production. The Carol Concert this large group of commendable singers gave in St. Mary’s Church Ely introduced the festive season admirably.

The concert opened with a lively gem: Rejoice Lordings by A. Oldham. Immediately it became clear that choir and organist (Jonathan Lilley) were set for an evening of some considerable musical worth. Highlights were the Mendelssohn: When Jesus our Lord , Andrew Parnell’s arrangement of Come, thou Redeemer of the earth and the lullaby The Infant King. These works were particularly well suited to the choir and produced exquisitely sustained musical lines and textures that were treated with rare sensitivity.

The programme contained a variety of other Christmas music such as an ambitious Ave Rex by William Mathias and charming more traditional works:  Joseph and the angel and Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.

The evening was enhanced with an interesting choice of readings interspersed between traditional carols for audience participation.  Dorothy Sayers, one time daughter of the vicar at Bluntisham, wrote a series of controversial plays for the BBC. The selection chosen from these plays added spice to events and reminded the audience of how century-old issues such as the conflict between power and love or of freedom and order and the nature of goodness are relevant to any society at any time. The readers of these excerpts and the soloists for the evening were commendable.

The listeners left the church with the recurring strains of A Somerset Carol echoing in their thoughts, providing strong affirmation that this had, indeed, been a really good evening.

Ely Choral Society’s next concerts:

30th January Peace Child Alpha Omega

27th March J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion

Contacts: and

Rosemary Westwell


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