Archive for March, 2012

‘Schools Make Music’ at Cromwell Community College, Chatteris Thursday 29th March 2012 Chatteris Rotary

March 31, 2012

‘Schools Make Music’ in the Cromwell Community College Chatteris on Thursday night was a great success. Organized by Chatteris Rotary on a yearly basis, local music teacher Amy Dyson led a large group of young singers from the area in a most entertaining concert.    Schools that joined singers from Cromwell Community College (led by Louise Todd ) included Benwick and Kingsfield (both led by Amy Dyson), Glebelands (led by Becky Mellows), Lionel Walden (led by Sarah Harrison), Manea (led by Emma Boughen ) and Thomas Eaton (led by Jade Betts). The hall was packed with participants and their parents. Each school presented a few items separately and the evening ended with a grand combination of all voices. Individual items that stood out for me were Glebeland’s ‘I’d like to teach the World to sing’, Kingfield’s ‘Fantasy Football Team’, Manea’s ‘Think of a World without any flowers’, Thomas Eaton’s ‘Living and Learning’, Benwick’s ‘What a wonderful world’, Lionel Walden’s ‘You raise me up’, Cromwell Choir’s ‘The eye of the Tiger’ and the combined ‘We are the Champions’ by Freddie Mercury. ‘Think of a world without any flowers’ was particularly interesting because it included the use of sign language, ‘What a wonderful world’ did Louis Armstrong proud, while ‘We are the Champions’ made a wonderful encore. Another factor that struck me in particular was that the songs chosen contained a number of challenges for the singers, and in some cases there was a plethora of words to learn and sing, sometimes at a very lively pace. The children rose to the occasion every time and the excitement on their faces and the thrill they obviously felt from performing well to a large appreciative audience will be remembered for some time. Chatteris Rotary is to be congratulated for inspiring such a moving event. Rosemary Westwell

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Review Prime Brass Concert Friday 9th March 2012 in the Hayward Theatre Ely

March 13, 2012

Prime Brass is indeed a prime group of performers. This brass quintet gave a splendid performance at their concert last Friday providing a first class addition to the King’s School Ely Concert Series. Michel Sedgwick (trumpet), Paul Garner (trumpet), Guy Llewellyn (french horn), Sarah Minchin (trombone) and Alan Sugars (tuba) made a formidable ensemble – nothing was left to chance, they gelled superbly no matter how tricky or rapid the music. Maurice Hodges (piano) accompanied their solo performances with noticeable empathy, mastered the varied styles and demands superbly.

A wide selection of music was included in the programme with many popular works arranged suitably for these instruments. Nothing was lost in the transcriptions, these musicians knew how to bring out the best of these pieces.

From the first bars of the opening Domine Ad Adjuvandum by Monteverdi arranged by Ivo Preis, it was obvious that this was no ‘ordinary’ ensemble. The control, the precision and the subtlety of expression managed by this group brought the music alive.

Of the suite of pieces from the music of Purcell, the most appealing items for me were the Intrada containing that famous tune Britten chose for his work ‘A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ and Dido’s Lament- a seemingly simple piece that contains a repeated melody in the bass over which lie the haunting pleas of ‘Remember me’ by Dido. The flugelhorn proved a splendid representation of the voice on this occasion and brought considerable emotion to the line.  The Tuba Tune and Trumpet Tune followed the Lament and we were lulled into a comfortable sense of delight and security.

However, this sense of ease was short-lived. Suddenly we were encouraged to listen intently, to think and to marvel at the more challenging material in The Night Trumpeter by McDowall played by Michel. In the second movement of this piece, especially, Michel’s description of the programme of the music was particularly helpful. We could indeed hear the snatched pieces of conversation within the walls that the composer tried to emulate.

A change of colour followed with Guy playing Forêt by Bozza which again challenged the listeners with the open chords and effects in the piano and the hunting horn and echoes that were regularly featured.

The first half of the concert ended splendidly with The Adiemus Collection by Jenkins arranged by Tony Small. The familiar theme from the Benedictus of the Armed Man mesmerized the listeners. The following lively dance-like Cu’Chullain with its rapid notes and riotous rhythms was a very effective contrast.

After interval, the Hayward Theatre became a centre of fun. Performers and audience let their hair down and the instrumentalists’ sheer joy of performing and their phenomenal skill helped the listeners relax and enjoy the lively humour that pervaded a number of the pieces in this section.

Each piece was a delight: The operatic excesses of La Rose Nuptiale by Lavallé arranged by Howard Cable, the sliding gymnastics of The Acrobat by Greenwood played by Sara on trombone, Paul’s gorgeous flugelhorn in Send in the Clowns by Sondheim, the virtuosic tuba in Tuba Tiger Rag by De Costa arranged by Luther Hendersson and the three jolly pieces in the Music Hall Suite by Horovitz: Trick Cyclists, Soft Shoe Shuffle and Les Girls.  The rhythmical genius of this ensemble was made particularly apparent when the audience failed to keep to the performers’ precision when it was their turn.

It is no wonder that an encore was demanded from these amazing performers and that they are in demand – performing in King’s College Chapel the following evening.

The next King’s Ely Concert Society event will be on Friday 11th May in the Recital Hall featuring Nicky Spencer (tenor) and Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano).

Rosemary Westwell

Review of Mixing their Music in Ely Cathedral on 10th March 2012

March 13, 2012

Mixing their Music in Ely Cathedral last Saturday night was an outstanding concert. The choirs of Ely Cathedral, Jesus College, Cambridge and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, combined to produce music of the highest quality filling the vaults of Ely Cathedral with potent sounds appropriate for the season.

The concert opened with all the choirs singing movements from the Crucifixion by Stainer.  When the first choral declamation of ‘Fling wide the gates!’ in The Processional to Calvary struck, it was apparent that these musicians were professionals of the highest order. Tonal purity and strength were complemented with pure beauty and polished precision. The reverence and sense of awe the words of God so loved the world were reflected perfectly by these highly accomplished performers and the Appeal of the Crucified was particularly effective, bringing out the passion of the words particularly well. Special moments included the climax to ‘they shouted against me, Crucify’ and the poignancy of ‘is it nothing to you?’

Bruckner’s attraction was made particularly apparent as the Cambridge choirs gave voice to his O Justi, Christus Factus Est and Ave Maria. Most notable were the special tonal qualities of O Justi, the powerful exploitation of contrast in Christus Factus Est and the angelic qualities and subtle expression in Ave Maria.

The first half of the programme ended with all the choirs joining to sing Finzi’s Lo the Full Final Score. Paul Trepte (Musical Director of Ely Cathedral) mentions the need for concentration by the audience to appreciate this lengthy work, but this was not difficult to do for the singers brought out an appreciable array of effects that gave credence to the words and constantly kept the music alive.

After interval the choirs combined to sing Kodaly’s Pange lingua, Barber’s Agnus Dei and Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine.  Powerful resonance permeated the Kodaly while the familiar Agnus Dei by Barber gained in depth and meaning with the words so clearly delineated. Fauré’s work maintained its romantic pull in the hands of these expert singers.

A very short interlude was provided by Richard Allain’s Cana’s Guest which developed a highly effective and glorious climax. Dvorak’s Kyrie (Mass in D) was delightful. A surprisingly charming opening Kyrie was contrasted well with the more challenging Christe eleison.

Frances Grier’s twentieth century Prayer was perhaps the most challenging of the concert. A keen sense of mystery pervaded the work, while wide-ranging effects added dimension. Notable effects included foreboding marching in the depths of the organ and strong soprano lines.

The final work was an ideal choice and ended the concert perfectly. Ralph Vaughan Williams, known to have visited Ely Cathedral and admired the angels in the south transept, wrote music to thrill and inspire. His lord thou hast been our refuge with words from Psalm 90 in the Book of Common Prayer expressed triumphant faith. The overlapping lines and the careful combination of the verses with lines from the hymn O God our help in ages past made this a perfect ending for an evening of stunning music.

 Conductors, Paul Trepte, Mark Williams, Geoffrey Webber and Sarah MacDonald, organists Jonathan Lilley and Oliver Hancock and trumpeter Malachy Frame and the choirs are to be congratulated for one of the finest, most awe-inspiring concerts of the season.

Rosemary Westwell 

Review of A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra in Ely Cathedral on Saturday March 3rd 2012

March 5, 2012

A new spark of excitement was created by Steve Bingham when he conducted Ely Sinfonia for their concert A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra in Ely Cathedral last Saturday. Under his baton, not only did the orchestra perform to considerably high standards, but an extra sense of liveliness, camaraderie and joy permeated their performances.

The concert opened with the première performance of Somniare by Alex Cook, winner of the Cambridge Youth Composer of the Year 2011 prize. With small groups of instruments scattered throughout the Cathedral, this budding new composer was able to create an intriguing atmosphere as strands of sounds were suspended in the vaults of the Cathedral and  came together in long enduring sound combinations give a sense of belonging and a feeling that we were immersed in an expansive film score.

Ravel’s Bolero is a very popular addition to the programme. Although the composer is said to have joked about the piece having no music, this orchestra proved otherwise. As the different instruments came in above the constantly repeated rhythm, in the snare drum, it soon became clear that this was no ordinary performance. None of Ravel’s intentions were lost while the soloists added their individual expressions that brought out the uniqueness of their instruments’ sounds while at the same time giving the composition delightful and meaningful colour and development.

I have heard Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra a hundred times and more. (I taught music in schools for years.) Consequently, it was with a little trepidation that I waited to listen to this piece yet again. However, I need not have feared. This performance was definite proof that a live performance beats any recording. Steve exuded enthusiasm as he introduced the piece and added his own limericks to introduce the children to the instruments as they played in turn. It was quite moving to see the youngsters sitting on cushions in the octagon in front of the orchestra remaining quiet and interested throughout the evening’s performance. The extra vitality and colour that this orchestra added to this very well known composition made it a real joy to hear again.

After interval we were taken into a deeper realm with Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. The four movements of the piece reflected a wide range of emotions and expressions. The skill of the composer and the accomplishment of the performers created a sense of poignant stillness that developed into angry outbursts or deep Russian moodiness. Strong vehement themes exuded potency, and in the second movement particularly, different instruments brought extra character and tones to the proceedings. In the third movement Shostakovich’s skill in using intervals and melodic shape to mix the emotions creating an underlying sense of sadness that permeated the work, while also adding tinges of beauty, fondness and hope. There were many glorious moments when a distinctive Russian voice emerged, especially in the deeper instruments. The final movement contained moments of anger and agitation that were momentarily suspended in delightful episodes of respite only to break out again into expressions of frustration and anxiety, ending with a final unfettered declamation by the drum. This was one of the most exhilarating and inspired performances by Sinfonia I have heard.

Rosemary Westwell

 

Future events:

Saturday May 26th Linton Village College 7.30 as part of the Linton Music Festival playing Bruch’s violin concerto, Rossini’s Thieving Magpie Overture, Elgar’s Serenade for Strings and Mozart’s Symphony no 40.

Saturday September 29th in Ely Cathedral at 7.30 p.m. Fauré’s Requiem and two works by Samuel Barber: his Adagio for Strings and Knoxville – Summer of 1915 for soprano and small orchestra.

Rosemary Westwell

An interview with local artist Stuart Green before the exhibition at King’s College (4th to 17th March 2012)

March 2, 2012

What inspired your exhibition (4th to 17th March)?

We were all formerly art teachers at the King’s School Ely. After leaving the school we found that we were free to focus on our individual artistic preferences and this inspired us to produce a combined exhibition.

Who are the four artists involved and what are their particular artistic concerns?

The four artists are 

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and myself, Stuart Green.

Terry is concerned with creating a sense of depth and form through the use of colour and colour relationships. An integral part of her work is that it is non-representational in a direct sense, leaving the interpretation of the work up to the viewer. Some of her work is made as a direct response to observed elements in the world around her, while her use of colour has been informed to some extent by a childhood spent in Africa. She uses various media to achieve her aims, including acrylics, mono-printing and collage. She has exhibited widely and has work in numerous private and corporate collections.

Natalie approaches insects with a scientific eye and draws every detail with meticulous accuracy. She says that her work ‘is mainly concerned with the symbolic and aesthetic value of insects. They have limitless diversity in terms of their shape, colour and texture and when studying their physiognomy at close range, they can appear both monstrous and beautiful. To execute these meticulous studies I am employing the traditions of natural history illustration and the scientific depiction of insects. I am also interested in a wider range of zoological specimens and I am fascinated with the way in which museums classify and display their historical finds.’

Stephens’ work is concerned with the exploration of form and surface, which evolve through a gradual process of hand-building and refinement. Influences are diverse and come from the natural and built environment. The forms are mainly hand-built and altered by a range of techniques. This process creates significant marks and textures, which are enhanced and revealed by the subsequent use of glaze and oxides. His work is all Raku fired. Smoked and carbonated areas of the clay, resulting from the post-firing reduction, are left exposed to form a contrast with the glazed surfaces. Stephen’s ceramics have been exhibited widely and are held in many private and public collections. Corporate clients have included: Coopers and Lybrand, Lovells, the international law firm and The Royal Bank of Scotland, which are all based in London. He is the author of The Glaze Book, published by Thames and Hudson in 2002.

Since 1981, when I moved to Ely, I have exhibited all over East Anglia both in solo and group shows. I have also exhibited in Germany and have worked in private collections both in Europe and Australia. A teaching exchange in Australia dramatically changed my way of working. Seeing the world literally from many different perspectives encouraged new approaches and experimentation. By inclination I am a painter of landscape. At times I will record simply for the enjoyment of being in a particular place and at other times I will search more deeply for the marks that both man and nature have made. It is through this search that I find the colours, patterns, textures and forms that are the roots of my work.

 

Why have you chosen King’s College Arts Centre as your venue?

Natalie works in the Art Department at King’s College and consequently the opportunity arose for us to exhibit there.

 

Can you give us directions to the venue?

Once at Kings College Cambridge, follow directions to the Art Centre. Our exhibition may be found by following directions to ‘A’ Staircase, the Scott’s Building and the Front Court.

 

What is each artist’s specialty?

Steve is a ceramisist, Terry a painter/ textile/printer, Natalie’s specialty is in fine drawing and I am a painter.

 

Are there any themes in the exhibition?

Besides our connection with the King’s School Ely all four of us are concerned with texture, detail and surface and particular elements of these can be seen echoed throughout our work.

 

Are there any particularly unusual entries?

Everything is spectacular!

 

Can anyone attend the private viewing on 3rd March (6-8 p.m.)?

Yes, the exhibition is open to everybody.

 

Is there a charge for entry?

No, entry is free.

In what other activities are you all involved?

We will be taking part in other exhibitions in a variety of venues including London and Norfolk, and working on private commissions.

 

Is there anything else you would like to say?

We think that the exhibition is accessible to all and look forward to welcoming many visitors. One of the artists will be present every day.

 

How should we get in touch with you for more information?

Stuart Green 01353 661508 or email: stuartagreen@talktalk.net

 

Thank you, Stuart, the exhibition looks most promising and will no doubt attract a wide audience.

Rosemary Westwell