Archive for December, 2010

Review Carols by Candlelight in Ely Cathedral

December 27, 2010

Ely Cathedral, one of the largest Cathedrals in the UK, is hardly the place where you would feel at home or intimate with the coziness of a family gathering, but Paul Trepte, Ely Cathedral Choir, Ely Sinfonia, Ely Imps and Jonathan Lilley achieved all of this in their fund-raising concert Carols by Candlelight on Wednesday 22nd December 2010. Resplendent in the Royal red, Paul managed a packed Cathedral with the warmth and friendliness of the best of benevolent managers. Clutching a candle given to us on entry to the Cathedral, we had plenty of opportunity to sing our favourite carols: Once in Royal David’s City, While Shepherd’s Watched, The Holly and the Ivy, Good King Wenceslas, See Amid the Winter’s Snow, and O Come all Ye Faithful to name but a few. Ely Cathedral Choir excelled themselves (as usual) with beautiful, sonorous performances of Bob Chilcott’s Nova Nova, Christmas Fantasia by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Carol of the Magi by John Rutter. James Rees, baritone, featured as a worthy soloist. The large choir of young singers, Ely Imps, gave events special charm with their fresh young voices singing Sing we then Merrily by William Byrd, I wonder as I wander by John Jacob Niles and Waltz of the Snowflakes by Peter Illych Tchaikovsky. Waltz of the Snowflakes was a charming picturesque piece in which Ely Imps were joined by the Choristers and Ely Sinfonia. The well established local orchestra, Ely Sinfonia, produced a light agile sound that supported the singers admirably. The performance of movements from George Bizet’s Jeux d’Enfants was light-hearted, energetic and rhythmically exciting. Jonathan Lilley accompanied with usual panache and as he dashed from organ to piano and back not a note was out of place. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Cathedral’s Christmas Charities (Guide Dogs for the Blind, Oliver Zangwill Centre, St. John’s Hackney and Link House) and the Ely Cathedral Trust. Contact: oofse@cathedral.ely.anglican.org

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Review ‘A Festival of Carols’ presented by the Freemasons of Cambridgeshire in Ely Cathedral on Friday 10th December 2010

December 12, 2010

A wonderful array of high profile personalities, a packed cathedral and Ely Cathedral Choir conducted by Paul Trepte were the ideal combination for an excellent evening to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season.

With Paul Trepte at the helm, and Jonathan Lilley accompanying on organ or piano, the music was impeccable. The event opened with the Choir and audience singing the ‘See amid the winter’s snow’. In keeping with the wintry scene, Tim Pearce Higgins, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, gave a grand reading of ‘London Snow’ by Robert Bridges.

The Cathedral Choir’s first item then charmed the listeners with its fine sound and well balanced harmony in ‘The Truth from Above’ (Ralph Vaughan Williams) and ethereal chorister solos opened ‘Holly and The Ivy’ arranged by W. Davies.

John Betjeman’s picturesque ‘Christmas’ was made even more entertaining by Rex Walford’s expert reading before the audience rose to their feet to join in with ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’.

Next, a couple of highly amusing Christmas descriptions were separated by a carol which captured the wonder and excitement of children at Christmas: ‘Zither Carol’. Joyce Grenfells’ highly amusing Nativity Play, complete with four Kings and the troublesome George, was read by Amanda Bringans, Director of Fundraising for the Macmillan Cancer Support and Mark Peters, Presenter – Star Radio reminded us of the over- zealous young actor wrecking a Nativity Play in Willie Russell’s ‘Shirley Valentine’.

 A nostalgic ‘White Christmas’ sung by the Choir and accompanied by Jonathan Lilly on piano preceded a worthy reading of ‘The Oxen’ by Thomas Hardy by Andrew Lansley, MP, Secretary of State for Health.

The awesome environment of the Cathedral was further enhanced with the Choir’s very moving and sustained phrasing of ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ by Frances Poulenc and everyone joined in the rousing ‘Joy to the world’ to end the first half of the celebration.

Rodney Wolverson, Provincial Grand Master, informed us of the invaluable worldwide contributions of the Freemasons to open the second part of the evening and was followed by a captivating reading by the Head of The King’s School, Ely, Sue Freestone. She read Clemet Clarke Moore’s ‘The Night before Christmas’. The Choir gave a dashing performance of ‘Jingle Bells’ and a stately rendition of ‘O Tannenbaum’ before Nick Warburton, Writer and Journalist, read the remarkable tale of enemy soldiers pausing in their fighting to celebrate the season in ‘A Christmas Truce’ by Captain J. Armes.

The communal singing of ‘It came upon the midnight clear’ introduced an intriguing reading by Nick Pett, Cambridgeshire Freemason, Trustee of the Grand Charity, of ‘Nothingmas Day’ by Adrian Mitchell.

There was not a slip when the Choir sang the challenging ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ arranged by John Rutter and the spirit of the season was clearly explained in Francis P Church’s ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ read charismatically by Boni Sones.

Further cheer was provided by the Choir singing ‘We need a little Christmas’ by Jerry Herman and we were brought back to the opening reflective mode with Harold Darke’s ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’.

Dressed in his fine uniform, Nigel Brown, High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, followed with his commanding reading of ‘Christmas Bells’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.    

As a cancer survivor myself, I understand the fear and despair the disease creates and the assistance of organizations like Macmillan Support is invaluable and essential. Leanne Grose, a young and beautiful sufferer of the disease, gave a very moving speech in which she described her own experiences and the invaluable part her supporters played.

The wonderful evening ended fittingly with all voices singing ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.  

Contacts:

http://pglcambs.homestead.com/

http://www.macmillan.org.uk

oofse@cathedral.ely.anglican.org

‘Mother Goose’ presented by KD Theatre Productions at Beechurst Hall Soham 2nd December 2010

December 4, 2010

 The pantomime season this year certainly began with a flourish in the production of ‘Mother Goose’ at Soham. Writer/director Daniel Bell knew his stuff. The enthusiastic audience warmed to events immediately and there was no hesitation in booing the dastardly baddy Demon of Discontent (played by Tommy D Kelley) or responding loudly ‘Don’t touch the plant!’ when darling little Lana the Lamb (Katie Sarll) was tempted to approach Silly Billy’s pride and joy. This show had all the ingredients for success: a lively, swiftly moving plot, a stage full of colourful characters and first class dancers, a script full poetry and corny jokes, and a series of invigorating and beautifully sung musical numbers. Fairy Snow Drop (Robyn Howe) and her cheery aura of happiness was the perfect foil for the evil Demon of Discontent. Priscilla the Magic Goose (Jake Straw) and her amazing golden eggs assumed an endearing character of her own while the pivotal role in the show was undoubtedly Mother Goose (Daniel Bell). One never knew what to expect with Mother Goose — she had us thoroughly entertained and her incredible costumes added considerable zest to the wow factor. Were they fish, was that a Christmas tree or was that a bucket on her head and was she wearing a table and tea set round her middle? The host of customary characters swept us along as the tale of Mother Goose and her woes unfolded. Ben (Jack Shorney) and Jerry (Susannah Martin) were a wonderful, hilarious double act raising the roof with their antics. Beautiful Mary (Karina Locke) and pantomime prince charming Tom (Lucy Bell) added romantic flavor while Squire Moneybags and The King of Gooseland (Ben Elgar) gave of touch of authority and, in the part of Squire Moneybags, and large dash of greed and cruelty that made Mother Goose’s life so difficult. One of the most effective and likeable personalities was Silly Billy (Ryan Hutton). The Singers: Chloe Jones, Emily Smith, Molly Dunnett, Annabelle Davies moved and harmonized deliciously. The Dancers (Mollie Shaw, Emma Sutton, Hanna Pyrah and Emily Robinson), the Junior Dancers (Lucy Wills, Sapphire Locke, Zara Minns, Niamh Hutton, Jennie Bingham, and Ellie Newman) and The Panto Babes (Charlotte Johnson, Ellen Davies, Amy Davies, Abbie Bushel, Emily Gordon, Josh Bayley and Natasha Shorney) swirled about the stage gracefully and swiftly with a highly accomplished technique that added atmosphere and vitality to events. Choreographer Katherine Hickmott is to be congratulated for such intriguing designs. The production was packed with ideas and a sword fight, slapstick fun at Bertie’s Barn, a ghost, huge balloons, a highly amusing Sugar Plum Fairy take-off and the ‘ah’ factor unforgettably portrayed by the little ones were all par for the course. The Band was wonderful and the sound people are to be congratulated for having the right level of volume, so rare in productions these days. Performers included Keys Melody Bell, Bass Tom Claringbold, Guitar Chris Bradbury, Trumpet Mike O’Reilly, Saxophone Mark Bell, Clarinet Tim Taberner, and Percussion Tom Cockerton. This was a wonderful production which brought tremendous cheer to the packed audience on such a cold and dark winter’s night. Contact: danielbell@kdtheatreproductions.co.uk