Archive for October, 2010

Review Pre-tour Concert The Choir of Ely Cathedral on Saturday 16th October 2010 in Ely Cathedral

October 19, 2010

Paul Trepte, Jonathan Lilley and The Choir of Ely Cathedral are a phenomenal combination and any performance they offer is undoubtedly first-class. Their pre-tour concert was no exception.

The sheer beauty of the ‘English’ sound, the tonal potency and the expressive and rhythmic agility of this amazing group of performers will no doubt wow the audiences in Spain.    

Extra chairs had to be brought in for the listeners who knew they were about to be hear music of the highest quality.

The event opened with what Paul called their ‘party piece’: ‘The heavens are telling’ by Haydn.    Dressed in red, the choir stood in the choir stalls, with the candles flickering and Ely Cathedral’s unique atmosphere shrouding them in support. The Cathedral vaults resounded with the glorious sounds of choir and organ as this wonderful concert began.

Swiftly moving to the magnificent altar at the east end of the Cathedral, the choir sang the first unaccompanied piece: ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’ by Holst in which the voices fully explored the variety of expression in the different verses.

Long phrases and sustained beauty of Byrd’s ‘Prevent us O Lord’ provided notable contrast. As the choir memebers moved back to the stalls, Jonathan Lilley, organist, played a delightful number: ‘A fancy’ by Harris. It was indeed a ‘fancy, with light-hearted forays and dialogues that tickled the senses.

Beethoven’s ‘Hallelujah (The Mount of Olives)’ brought matters into a more serious, deep-seated frame of mind while the following unaccompanied ‘Alleluia psallat’  brought us into the twentieth century with its delicious discords, challenging rhythms and exciting effects.

The more traditional religious music of Stanford featured twice in this concert and both pieces (‘Justorum animae’ and ‘Beati quorum via’) were a testament to Paul’s conducting prowess as the sustained beauty of Stanford’s phrases were fully explored.

The boy choristers gave a splendid performance of Marcello’s ‘Give ear unto me’ and the full choir conveyed the forthrightness and musical vigor of ‘Hymn to the Trinity’ by Ely resident and Organist Emeritus to Ely Cathedral, Arthur Wills. The choir exemplified the attractiveness of John Rutter’s ‘O clap you hands’ by Cambridge-based John Rutter.

However, for me, the real highlights were the choir’s performance of Paul’s composition ‘The Gateway of heaven’ and Bruckner’s ‘Locus iste’ and Jonathan’s organ delight ‘Salamanca’ by Bovet. ’The Gateway of Heaven’ was fresh, intriguing and permeated with very agreeable and colourful harmonies. The performance of the very popular ‘Locus iste’ under Paul’s influence was brought to life by his indisputable attention to detail and expressive precision without losing any of the emotional impact. In ‘Salamanca’ by Guy Bovet Jonathan had the audience grinning with his exploitation of the extremes of witty expression within this amazing piece. Stops producing sounds reminiscent of penny whistles, beating drums, fog horns and demonic fairground music were the order of the day in a composition that was no easy feat to play. It was also a good choice for the tour as Bovet taught at Salamanca University in Spain.

Spain should be very impressed with these fantastic musicians.

Review: Viva’s production of ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde at the Brook Soham Friday 16th October 2010

October 19, 2010

Oscar Wilde’s wit never ceases to make us smile and in Viva Theatre Company’s production of his play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, Oscar was indeed always present.  The clarity of diction, inflection and delivery of the actors gave every ‘one-liner’ its full value. There was hardly a moment without the audience spontaneously laughing in recognition of his unique observations of life, courtship and marriage. Although the play is set in times gone by, it was quite relevant to the present and the audience knew it.

Daniel Schumann’s impressive work as Director was very much in evidence. This was a smooth-running, delightful production. ‘Algy’ (played by Joshua Schumann) was a real toff, his attractive eyes full of mischief, his gestures sweeping and grand. He teased his friend ‘Jack’ (or ‘Ernest’) (Darren Smith) mercilessly.  Jack soon involved the audience in his emotional confusion as life seemed to deliver him blow after blow, starting with Algy preventing him from proposing to his ward, Gwendolen (Kirsten Green). Gwendolen and Cecily (Hannah Goodger) were a pair of beautiful young ladies with the ability to charm, sooth or fight with real venom as their love lives were thwarted time and again.  Central to the ups and downs of these characters and their relationships was the importance of the name ‘Ernest’. Lady Augusta Bracknell (Esther Hiller) enunciated her words to perfection as the domineering and meddling ‘Lady’. We waited with bated breath for her indignant words ‘a handbag?’ when she was told that the suitor for her daughter Cecily’s hand in marriage did not know his parents and had been found in a handbag at Victoria Station. She did not let us down, the words rang out delightfully with righteous incredulity.

 Dr Frederick Chasuble (David Tickner) pontificated in a most affectatious manner, just like those over-seasoned vicars we recognise from times past. David also made an admirable butler (Lane). Miss Prism (Delia Tickner) easily became the lovable, pivotal character who tried to tutor her wayward pupil Cecily but was easily side-tracked by her affections for the vicar. However, finally she was the one who solved the mystery of the baby in the handbag and it was soon discovered that Jack’s name was really Ernest and all was well.  Daniel, needless to say, caught servant Merriman’s disdain perfectly.

With the support of producer  Sarah Dowd and an excellent crew, this production was a wonderful success.

If you are interested in becoming involved with this delightful company you are invited to attend the AGM on Thursday 4th November 2010 7.30 pm in the Drama Studio, Beechurst, Soham Village College.


Ely Sinfonia’s Travellers’ Tales in Ely Cathedral 2nd October 2010

October 13, 2010

Since its inauguration in November 1999 Ely Sinfonia has developed into a formidable presence in the musical world in Ely and a number of new faces in the orchestra this time added to the vibrancy and sparkle of this fine group of instrumentalists. In spite of competing with a number of high profile events in the area on Saturday night, the orchestra gave a splendid performance of Rossini’s Overture to ‘Italian Girl in Algiers’, ‘Harold in Italy’ by Berlioz and Gershwin’s ‘An American in Paris’.

Under the baton of Steve Bingham, the mischievous humour of Rossini was always present. With a strong sense of excitement and drive, the orchestra tantilised the listeners with tremendous variety of expression. Precise rhythms, joyful climaxes and virtuosic accuracy in the woodwind were the order of the day. This was an excellent choice for the opening of the concert – a choice that captured the attention of the audience immediately.

The underlying melancholy of Berlioz and the beauty of the viola, often overlooked within the bounds of the orchestra, were made apparent in ‘Harold in Italy’. The viola soloist was Brenda Stewart and she gave an excellent performance. In the first movement, ‘Harold aux Montagnes’, the instrumentalists highlighted the sonorous melodies, elongated climaxes and occasional hedonic flourishes so characteristic of Berlioz.  In the second movement, ‘Marche des pélerins chantant la prière du soir’, deep pizzicato, reflective calm contemplation and subtle almost hypnotic use of isolated discord charmed the listeners. The third movement, Sérénade d’un Montagnard des Abruzzez à sa maîtresse, indulged in a countryside feel as the performers reminded us of previous themes. The work ended with an intriguing fourth movement, ‘Orgie des Brigands’, which was introduction by the viola that was soon overwhelmed by an orgy of excitement and chattering pleasure seekers. Steve’s superb conducting created impressive precision in some quite demanding episodes in this movement.

However, the real highlight of the evening for me was Gershwin’s ‘American in Paris’. None of Gershwin’s rhythmic variation, colourful orchestration and exuberance was lost in the performance tonight.  We were swept from the busy excitement of the city, with its hectic traffic, and intermittent blaring horns to languid pensive moments of reflection. The easy swagger of the American revelling in the sights and sounds of this wonderful city was captured perfectly and not a moment was lost. Performers and audience were caught up in an unforgettable experience as they indulged in Gershwin’s unique jazzy style clothed in classical design. Steve Bingham and

Ely Sinfonia proved themselves a formidable force with this magnificent performance.

Future events include:

Wednesday 22nd December 730 p.m. Ely Cathedral’s Christmas Concert

Saturday 5th March 2011 730 p.m. Ely Sinfonia March Spectacular (local venue to be confirmed)

Saturday 2nd July 2011 730 p.m .Serenade to Music 730 p.m. Chatteris Church

Saturday 1st October 2011 730 p.m. Raphael Wallfisch play Dvorak, Ely Cathedral

Saturday 30th October 2011 730 p.m. Ely Choral Society sings Rossini’s ‘Petite Messe Solennelle’

Contact: Ely Cathedral Box Office (01353) 660349

Review ‘The Two of Us’ at the Maltings Thursday 30th September 2010

October 2, 2010

ADeC certainly know how to pack the Maltings. The production of ‘The Two of Us’, part of Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds’ Rural Tour, was a real hit.

The title suggested two people exploring and intense relationship as a couple but it was much more than that. Director Abigail Anderson was quite right when she described the writer Michael Frayn as a ‘consumate technician’. Words, actions and pace of delivery were orchestrated to perfection to produce four highly amusing plays that explored personalities and credible embarrassing situations magnificently.

The phenomenal acting ability of the two, Alys Torrance and Simon Nock, was in no doubt. Alys was the epitome of the exhausted mother of a  new born in ‘Black Silver’. In the second play, ‘The New Qixote’ she transformed into a mature party-goer who found enlightenment from a socially handicapped bore she had picked up the previous night.

Her husband’s foot, in ‘Mr. Foot’ captured the thought processes of a trapped suburban housewife losing identity. In the final play ‘Gnomes’ her roles as Jo, Alex and Bee were spot on. Jo, was the housewife and mother trying to produce a trouble-free dinner for her friends,. Alex, was the deep-voiced lover of Bee and Bee she portrayed delightfully as the emotionally insecure wife who recently abandoned her husband for Alex. These characters were all distinct and credible individuals sweeping in and out of the central dining room from a variety of entrances and exits with amazing agility and timing.   

Simon Nock complemented Alys perfectly. His portrayal of the new father, the nerdy uninvited partner, the controlling and intimidating husband in suburbia ,the slightly distracted dinner host and the tipsy thwarted husband had the audience chuckling in recognition.

Stage management, lighting and sound, stage set and programme were first rate, making the production one of the most entertaining events of the season.

Future events at the Royal Theatre Bury St. Edmunds include:

Friday 1st – Saturday 16th October ‘The London Merchant’ by George Lillo

Tuesday 9th – 13th November George Orwell’s 1984

Contact: Box office: 01284 769505

Future ADeC events at the Maltings include:

Friday 29th October 730 p.m. Arthur Smith

Wednesday 24th November 730 p.m. John Shuttleworth’s  ‘A Man with no More Rolls’

Sunday 5th December 730 p.m. Rich Hall

Contact: ADeC (01353) 616991