Archive for March, 2011

Review of Ely Consort’s performance of Brahm’s Requiem in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 26th March 2011

March 28, 2011

From the time Matthew Rudd took over the directorship of Ely Consort in 2002, it has grown in numbers and stature. Under his astute directorship, the tonal quality, clarity and polish this group of fine singers has developed has become more and more remarkable.

In their performance on Saturday these qualities were particularly evident in the motet Beati quorum via by Charles Villiers Stanford. The harmonies were beautifully balanced and entries and closures of effortlessly sustained lines were precise but not too precise to damage the wonderful resonance that filled the presbytery in Ely Cathedral where the concert took place. The ranges of expression, changes of mood and the gradual development of tension, dynamics and climaxes were wonderfully crafted by this excellent conductor and these marvellous singers.

These qualities were also especially apparent in Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s Blessed be the God and Father, Justorum animae by Stanford and the opening and closing Selig sind …, in Brahm’s Requiem. The words ‘But the word of the Lord endureth forever’ in Wesley’s piece built to a most effective climax.

Two impressive soloists performed with the choir. Francis Brett (baritone), who in the early days of his career won a choral scholarship to King’s College Cambridge, and our Ely-based diva Catriona Clark (soprano) enhanced the evening with first rate performances. Francis sang Herr, lehre doch mich, the third movement of Brahm’s Requiem, with mesmerizing warmth and potency. His superb technique engendered a sense of effortlessness as he captured the expressiveness of the text exactly. His contribution to the sixth movement of the Requiem, Denn wir habern hie keine bleibende Statt, brought out significant words with special clarity and colour.

Catriona Clark sparkled with her light, vibrant and well focused tones. She featured in Wesley’s Blessed be the God and Father and Ihr habt nun traurigkeit from the Requiem. Her solos by Brahms contrasted well. The first Wie Melodien was charming and gentle with key notes clothed with expressive warmth and the second song by Brahms, The Vain Suit was in English and a highly entertaining moment of humour not always apparent in Brahm’s usual profound style.

Jonathan Lilley, assistant organist to Ely Cathedral, accompanied with his usual expertise. The smooth fingerwork and empathy with the Cathedral’s organ were particularly apparent in his solo Postlude in D minor, Op 105. No 6 by Stanford. The declarative rousing melodies and the softer interwoven textures were putty in this highly accomplished performer’s hands.

The Consort is undoubtedly one of the finest choral groups in the area and among many of their spine-chilling moments was their performance of Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras (For all flesh is as grass), the second movement of the Requiem as Matthew drew out the most sinister of sounds to complement the funeral-march of the organ. Matthew’s skill in moving smoothly from one mood to another, changing pace and texture was particularly noticeable.

This was indeed a splendid concert.

The next event by Ely Consort includes a performance of Walton’s Coronation Te Deum in their concert on Saturday 25th June 2011 in St. Andrew’s Church Sutton.

You might also be interested in other events advertised in the programme:

Stretham Feast concert, St. Jame’s Church, featuring Alternative Medicine and Guests on Friday 14th May 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

East Anglia Chamber Orchestra (EACHO) featuring music by Bach, Copland, Albinoni and Dvorak in Ely Cathedral on Sunday 3rd April 2011 at 5.15 p.m.

Cantate Jubilate with works by Tallis, Purcell, Byrd and Stopford at St. Margarets’ Church Chippenham, Cambs. on Saturday 9th April at 7.30 p.m.



Ely Cathedral Box Office, tel: 01353 660349

Review of the King’s School Ely’s Gala Choral Concert in Ely Cathedral on 18th March 2011

March 20, 2011

The concert was dedicated to the memory of Clara Taylor, a lady of considerable charisma who, judging from the impressive speech she gave at a summer school I attended, showed considerable empathy with young musicians working hard to develop their pianistic talents. This warmth and understanding of what inspires performers to create good music was undeniably the foundation of this wonderful concert presented by the King’s School Ely. With notable ease, the huge choir and orchestra from the Cathedral and the school community filled the octagon and   gave the two works they presented very good measure.

Under the baton of Paul Trepte, Director of Music of Ely Cathedral, Gloria by Vivaldi contained moments of brisk exhilaration, quiet, gentle reverence and powerful, unaffected clarity and light. The performers included King’s School Chapel Choir, the Cathedral Choir, King’s Chorale, James Farmer (treble), Karl Reid (Countertenor) and Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir (sopranos) and the orchestra under the leadership of Helen Medlock. Highlights were definitely a particularly serene and cohesive Et in terra pax and the exquisite Domine Deus featuring Ely Cathedral chorister, James Farmer.

Inspired, rhythmically potent conducting by Ian Sutcliffe brought to life the culminating work for the evening: Requiem by Mozart. A different group of soloists coloured Mozart’s lines beautifully. They were Tara Bungard (soprano), music teachers at King’s, Ashley Harries (Countertenor) and James Rees (bass), and New Zealander Nick Madden (tenor).

The chorus and orchestra performed with impressive precision, warmth and grandeur. The drama and menacing intervals of the Dies Irae, the stark contrasts of Confutatis, and potent counterpoint in  Hostias were just a few of the wonderful effects developed by these first rate musicians. This was indeed a most impressive concert.


For information about future events and the CD contact (01353) 653931 or

Review: The Inner Wheels Club of Ely Charity Cabaret Evening on 19th March 2011 at Witchford Village Hall

March 20, 2011

The Inner Wheel Club of Ely is a force to be reckoned with for its Charity Cabaret Evening was certainly a success – over £500 was raised for their charity Red2Green (a Cambridgeshire charity that provides opportunities for people of all ages with disabilities). There was no doubting the enthusiasm of the performers and their love for music of different genres was infectious and their performances highly entertaining.

Lisa Bushell, well-known local singer opened the event by presenting a number of popular songs including Cabaret, Maybe this Time, Tell me on a Sunday, Over the Rainbow, River Deep Mountain High, Simply the Best, Son of a Preacher Man, and The first time ever I saw your face.  The first time ever I saw your face was particularly moving.

Charles Schneider brought considerable amusement to the show with a delightful series of humorous songs including a number of old favorites by Flanders and Swann. He opened with a popular Victorian number Come into the Garden Maud, and then Flanders and Swans’ Tonga with its frustrating language, The Slow Train (dedicated to Peter Heald for whom this was a particular favourite), The Armadillo so much in love with a metal-plated tank, Transport of Delight (a London omnibus), the thwarted lovers the honeysuckle and the Bindweed in Misalliance, the unwise The Ostrich burying its head in the sand in a testing ground, In the Bath, the unhappy The Rhinoceros, the fate of a naïve young lady in Madeira M’dear and the unforgettable The Hippopotamus with its glorious chorus Mud, mud …. In the duets he was joined by a delightful singer, his daughter, Georgia Schneider, a member of Ely Cathedral Girls Choir and he was expertly accompanied by Inner Wheel member and talented local pianist, Constance Heald.

After interval Witchford Voices ended the event with some excellent numbers. This huge local choir is conducted by Naomi D’Cunha and her expertise has led this group of enthusiastic performers to reach new heights of precision and quality in their performance.  This is definitely a choir to be reckoned with.

With powerful harmonies, exciting rhythms and rich tonal quality in the lower voices, these singers brought their songs alive. The programme included songs such as One Vision, Down by the River to Pray, Fix you, I’m yours, Adiemus by Karl Jenkins, Run. Don’t stop believing, Hallelujah (by Leonard Cohen), Man in the Mirror, What I’m Looking for and Africa

Technical support helped to create a strong sense of atmosphere – the most impressive of which was in Africa in which the choir used their hands and feet to create a realistic impression of wind, the patter of rain and thunder so typical of this hot country. Dee Ireland’s box of tricks and lighting effects were particularly valuable.

Forthcoming events for the choir will be on the 18th, 19th and 21st July. Copies of their debut CD may now be ordered. For more information contact choir manager

Review: Mediterranea Trio for the King’s School Ely Concert Society in the Hayward Theatre, Ely.

March 16, 2011

The Mediterranea Trio had the audience spellbound when they demonstrated their amazing technique and cohesion in the Hayward Theatre on the 11th March 2011. Elenlucia Pappalardo (piano), Markella Vandoros (violin) and Alessandro Sanguineti (cello) combined perfectly, playing as one. Their concert included mammoth works that explored a wide range of styles and expressions.

Schubert’s Piano Trio no.2 in E flat major, D.929 opened the programme. In these four varied movements, the three players definitely added a Mediterranean flavour to their performance as they fully expressed the emotive and lyrical potency of Schubert’s themes. Cascading runs and broken chords in the piano and beautifully entwined violin and cello episodes captured our attention immediately. The playful Scherzo and its subsequent changes of mood and the intriguing stuttering theme in the final movement were also exquisitely executed.

Shostakovich’s Piano Trio no.2 in E minor, op. 67 that followed provided a contrast. In this work we were transported to the sparse countryside of Russia. Intriguing use of harmonics in the cello helped create an eerie sense of emptiness and loss associated with the souls of the missing people from the atrocities of the Second World War. This desolation branched into long episodes that were demonic, macabre or pervaded with haunting gypsy refrains. Not a moment was lost. Every nuance of expression and emotion was wrenched from the notes by these amazing musicians.

This delightful concert ended with Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. This work demonstrated without a doubt that these players ‘have it’. Some musicians, no matter how practiced they are, can create music that is note perfect and rhythmically exact but that never quite touches the soul of the music. However, these wonderful performers exuded natural Latin rhythmic ‘know how’ to fascinating effect. Their amazing technical agility, their expressive intensity and their empathy with the style was always permeated with an infectious Tango rhythmic pulse.

This was indeed a wonderful event.

The next concert in the King’s School Ely Concert Series will be on the 13th of May in the Recital Hall at 7.30 pm featuring Catriona Clark (soprano), Daniel Howard (baritone) and Oliver Hancock (piano).


(for tickets and information about King’s School events) Lisa Bushell, Performing Arts Administrator, (01353 653931) email:

Review Bassett by The King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre Ely Wednesday 9th March 2011

March 16, 2011

Two very appropriate plays were chosen for this fine company of young players to perform in the Hayward Theatre recently:

Bassett is a play by James Graham set in the now Royal village of Wootton Bassett, known for its support of our fallen heroes from the Afghanistan war and For We Are Many which was also about war in the form of an adaptation of the ancient Greek tale of the fate of women in the Fall of Troy.

The actors gave confident and often spirited performances that were credible and entertaining.

In Bassett a group of teenagers locked in a classroom over the dinner break create and develop their own tensions and battles. The funeral procession of a fallen hero from Afghanistan in town and his connections with the youngsters brings home to them the realism of war, its provocation and its effects.

Leo (played by Rob Archer) was an impressive lead character who finally flipped as the classroom tensions finally came to a head. Graeme (Tony Lesmeister) stuttered magnificently, his awkward movements and tentative suggestions creating an unmistakable classroom nerd who changed from a nonentity to a hero when he used his laptop and the class DVD projector to display the all-important funeral procession. Another fine portrayal was Alec Prieto’s ‘Spencer’ whose sense of justice and the right thing to do gave him courage to stand up to the bullying Leop and become a hero himself. The backchat of the girls and the awkwardness of the adolescent boys brought alive a host of other excellent characterizations: Dean (Zach Binge), Shanti Sally Cheng), Kelly (Bryony Ding), Joanne (Megan Gilligan), Aimee (Johanna Going), Russell (Toby Hill), Lucy (Tegan Howlett), Jonathan (Matthew Levy), Zoe (Tori McIrvine) Rachel (Yaya McIrvine) and Amid (Dean Tarrant Raja).

In For We Are Many cohesive choruses underpinned moments of dramatic and sometimes gruesome reality that occurred after an ignominious defeat in war. The plight of women and children in wars was brought home with some vigour and sincerity by the performers. The main characters were: Hecuba (played by Emma Jones), Andromache (Bea White), Cassandra (Darcie Casey), Chorus leaders Ruth Scott and Natalie Yeung, Athene (Jack Spoor), Poseidon (Rowland Daniel), Tal (Rory McCorquodale) and their performances were enhanced by vital contributions from the chorus and soldiers.

Bassett was part of the National Theatre’s New Connections Festival which encourages the involvement of young people in theatre, on and off stage. The King’s Company will be taking Bassett to the Norwich Playhouse on Wednesday 4th May as part of the Regional Connections Festival. Mr. Luke Kernaghan, the National Theatre’s Connections director for this region, attended the first night of the King’s Company performances and gave the cast feedback afterwards.

A forthcoming event well worth attending will be a visit by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the King’s School Ely on Tuesday 24th May.

Contact: 01353 653939