Archive for May, 2010

live music

May 31, 2010

A pub that advertises ‘live music’ is one that I usually avoid. The ‘live performances’ I have experienced while having lunch on the beach in Torrevieja Spain,  are often brief, a little over enthusiastic and with a splattering of wrong notes, but enjoyable enough for the purpose. Consequently, I do not usually go out of my way to spend an evening out listening to ‘live music’. 

When a friend suggested I join a group and spend an evening listening to live music at Betty Boop’s on the Alcequion beach, I weakened and I decided a night out would suit me fine, with or without the ‘live music’.

After listening to the first few notes by Roberta, I had an immediate change of heart. When Roberta and Garry sang their separate songs, there was nothing ‘slap-dash’ about their performances. They focused on their songs, shaping their singing to match almost exactly the performers who first made the popular songs famous. Songs ranged from early 20th century to today: there was something for everyone. Their sense of rhythm, their tonal variety and their sensitivity to the messages of their songs were second to none. Garry gave the impersonator of Frank Sinatra of the Rat Pack (that I had heard in Bournemouth sometime ago) a good run for his money and Roberta held us in awe as she really lived for the moment, drawing us into the world of emotions or excitement the songs engendered. 

So the next time I am invited to go to an evening of ‘live music’, it will take a lot to stop me!

Contacts: Betty Boop’s, Avda Gregorio Marañon, 47, 03185 Torrevieja tel: 660113650 email:

Roberta, R and R Entertainment tel: 638404363 email:

Garry Dorsey tel (UK) 01761437993 mobile: 07704137857 email:

Rosemary Westwell (teacher of music Cambridgeshire, UK)

A Celebration of Life in Ely Cathedral presented by Papworth Hospital 8th May 2010

May 9, 2010

Ely Cathedral provided a magnificent environment for ‘A Celebration of Life’ presented by Papworth Hospital. In the gradual decline of light as the evening drew in, the stained glass windows took on a mysterious hue. Flickering candlelight made the picture complete as it reflected on the soft colours of the towering columns of this renowned Cathedral.

This awe-inspiring background provided a perfect backdrop for the Ely Cathedral Octagon Singers, conducted by Jan Payne, to create moments of heightened splendour. Their fine tones endorsed the spiritual potential of our often flawed world. Works included Bell’s ‘Jesus Christ is waiting’, Ireland’s ‘Greater love hath no man’, Fauré’s ‘In paradisum’, Purcell’s ‘Thou knowest Lord’, Rutter’s ‘For the beauty of the earth’ and Stanford’s ‘Bluebird’. The singers’ voices rose from the octagon, exploring the fine acoustics to the full. Parker Ramsay, an accomplished organist, accompanied the choir on the Cathedral organ with aplomb, and presented impressive and potent solos.   

It was a pleasant surprise to find the familiar face of Sergeant Merton (Duncan Bell) from TV’s ‘Heartbeat’ in the programme. He was one of three actors representing the host of people involved in heart and lung transplants. Duncan spoke authoritatively but compassionately as the surgeon, Leo Conville gave a sincere monologue as a troubled patient and Roland Allen represented an earnest and concerned transplant coordinator.   

This was a unique and moving celebration of the work of the Hospital, one that left those who attended with a feeling that there is much in this world that is worthy and that it is important to pause and reflect on those who have such an important effect on our lives.


Review: The King’s School Ely Concert Society’s event in the Hayward Theatre on Friday 7th May 2010: ‘Clarinet and Piano’

May 9, 2010

It isn’t until you hear an instrument played by a professional that you realize just how magnificent it can be. I have always liked the sound of the clarinet, took it up and was surprised how challenging it was to play. Pushing your bottom lip against a single reed and clamping your fingers on the keys to try to get over ‘the break’ were just two of the many difficulties. The sounds I made were nowhere near as pure and potent as those I heard in ‘Clarinet and Piano’.

 David Campbell, Jocelyn Howell and José Requéna were undoubtedly some of the finest clarinettists in the area. Accompanied by the highly skilful pianist, John Flinders, this amazing group mesmerized the audience with a thoroughly enjoyable programme of delightful pieces.

The evening opened with a work by the nephew of the Burgmüller we know and love for his piano studies. This work, ‘Duo for Clarinet and Piano Op. 15’, played by David and John, brought home immediately just how beautiful, powerful and agile the clarinet can be.

Jocelyn and John’s ‘premiere Rhapsodie’ by Debussy explored a variety of exotic colours, adapting quickly from amazingly long, pure tones to Debussy’s cheeky lively and detached episodes.  John’s liquid chords on the piano were adorable.   

Definitely one of the highlights of the evening, Mozart’s ‘Divertimento No. 1’, filled the hall with the delicious sound of three unaccompanied clarinets playing as one, reminding us of the grace, charm and joy of Mozart at his best.

In complete contrast, three pieces in a more popular vein led us to the interval. These were ‘Habanera from ‘Aires Tropicales’ by Paquito D’Rivera, and ‘You made me Love You’ by Jimmy Monaco. The ‘Habanera’ was particularly atmospheric. David demonstrated the special high tonal agility of an E flat clarinet while José anchored with the splendid bass tones of the large bass clarinet on its own little wheel that balanced it on the floor.

Another highlight of the evening was ‘Sonatina’ by Malcolm Arnold. From the opening energetic attack, it was clear that this piece showed all the virtuosic variety that the clarinet and accompanying piano can muster and David and John were the ideal people to demonstrate this. John’s piano playing reflected the wonderful antics of the clarinet exactly. These were amazing performers.

Nostalgia and a contemplative lament featured in ‘Ballad in Memory of Shirley Horn’ (a jazz singer) by Richard Rodney Bennett. Jocelyn and John and their sensitivity and control made this a real cry from the heart.

The personalities of these fine performers were revealed as they let their hair down in the final group of very well known pieces. José, the serious and competent classical performer of earlier in the evening, transformed into a alluring mover as he wowed the audience with his inherent Latin rhythmic and tonal magnetism of ‘La Cumparsita’ by Rodriquez, ‘Tico Tico’ by Zequinha Abreu and ‘Girl from Ipanema’ by Carlos Jobin.

This magnificent quartet demonstrated they were every bit as flamboyant as the violinists Kreisler originally scored for in ‘Liebesfreud’ and ‘Schön Rosmarin’. ‘The Entertainer’ by Scott Joplin ended the concert admirably for we were indeed, very highly entertained.


Review of HMS Pinafore in Ely Cathedral 1st May 2010

May 3, 2010

This was definitely a night for Gilbert and Sullivan addicts. After fun-packed workshops during the day the performance in the evening opened with more opportunities for the chorus (the audience) to get it right. Then, after interval, director Ian McMillan rallied chorus, orchestra, organist and a group of fine soloists from English National opera, D’Oyly Carte and London Operetta to produce a rollicking performance of H.M.S. Pinafore – what we were all waiting for.

Local talented individuals, Nina Jellicoe (from Cambridge Operatic Society) and Graham Diss (from Ely Choral Society) found themselves important roles as Hebe and the Boatswain respectively. Then our renowned orchestra, Ely Sinfonia led by Steve Bingham, and key characters Ralph Rackstraw (Oliver White), Josephine (Deborah Crowe), Little Buttercup (Jill Pert), Deadeye (Bruce Graham), Captain (John Lofthouse) and Sir Joseph Porter (Barry Clarke) unravelled the tale of mistaken identity, thwarted lovers and the hypocrisy of rank in the navy.

We were enthralled with the antics of Deadeye, his labored movements and non-attractive personality, the upright nobleness of the much troubled Ralph, the beauty and determination of Josephine, Little Buttercup’s jolly humour, the Captain’s snobbery and the utter pomposity of Sir Joseph. The strength of their characterization was matched perfectly with their rich tones, powerful voices and excellent diction that made light of Gilbert and Sullivan’s renowned rapid patter.

The strains of ‘we sail the ocean blue’, ‘I am the captain of the Pinafore’, ‘his sisters and his cousins and his aunts’, ‘when I was a lad …the ruler of the Queen’s navee’ ‘dear little buttercup’, and ‘he is an English man’ brought it all back to us and we were soon rising to our feet, waving our Union Jacks and singing to the top of our voices.

With prizes for the best costumes in the audience, this was definitely a night to remember and it is no wonder so many came from far afield to revel in this celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan. Next year it will be The Pirates of Penzance from scratch.

Before then you might like to see the performance recommended by Nina:  ‘The Mikado’ by Cambridge Operatic Society in the last week of November (tickets available from the Arts Box Office). Tickets for the ‘Pirates of Penzance from scratch’ in the Cathedral next year will be available from the Cathedral box office nearer the time.

 Rosemary Westwell