Archive for March, 2013

Review of Ely Choral Society’s presentation of Haydn’s ‘Creation’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 23rd March 2013

March 24, 2013

Ely Choral Society was in fine form. In spite of the cold and snow outside, there was a good turn out for Ely Society’s presentation of Haydn’s Creation on Saturday 23rd March in Ely Cathedral. The choir was very well balanced, the singers’ voices strong and enthused and under the keen directorship of Andrew Parnell, many wonderful effects were created. Sudden contrasts, varied speeds, changes of mood and gradual development of interweaving voices added to the overall sense of glory and inner tension that the work inspired.

There were some excellent soloists: Ruth Jenkins (soprano), Greg Tassell (tenor) and Andri Björn Róbertsson (bass). (Sylvia Bulley joined them for the final chorus.) All soloists sang magnificently, their clear tones and expressive nuances effectively resounding in the Cathedral.

The three parts of the composition were well portrayed. The first two described the six days of creation, and Part three depicted the arrival of Adam and Eve. In the first two parts, the recitatives (where a soloist sets the scene by telling the story) were delightfully expressive. Most of them were accompanied impeccably by Jonathan Lilley on the organ. The tunefulness of the arias that followed was positively enhanced by the high quality of the soloists and orchestra. With the chorus, hymns of praise that rounded each section off were strong and meaningful. The Adam and Eve duet by the bass and soprano in part three was superb. The tenor’s opening aria a delight. 

The orchestra, led by Helen Medlock, was first rate. Pastoral moments in the woodwind, delicacy in the strings, and the profundity of ‘cellos (in the second recitative of the second part) were particularly noticeable highlights.  

Overall, all performers this night brought out the joyful nature of the composer and enhanced his impressive characterization of vital words perfectly. This was indeed and excellent evening.

Future dates for you diaries:

Sunday 30th June 2013, 7.30 p.m., Ely Cathedral Ely and East Cambs. Arts Festival Concert

Saturday 26th October 2013, 7.30 p.m. Ely Cathedral Monarchy Restored – Music after Cromwell

Saturday 7th December 2013, 7.00 p.m. St Mary’s Church Ely, Christmas Concert.

Review of the Choral Concert by the King’s School Ely in Ely Cathedral on Friday 15th March 2013

March 23, 2013

With Paul Trepte, Director of Music at Ely Cathedral, wielding the baton, and with The King’s School Chapel Choir and Ely Cathedral Choir performing, I knew we were in for a treat and the concert was indeed, as delightful as expected.

A charming programme included an early work by Britten: ‘The Company of Heaven’ and Purcell’s ‘Come ye Sons of Art’. Britten can be a little difficult to listen to at times, with his frequent use of discords, but this early work was very pleasantly tuneful and enhanced with a commendable choir and orchestra and some highly accomplished soloists: Tara Bungard (soprano) and Ben Alden (tenor).

Britten’s work opened with atmospheric sounds from the orchestra creating a sense of impending magnitude. The Reverend Canon David Pritchard and his wife Tricia took it in turns to read the text that held the work together. Their clear diction and expression gave a splendid introduction to the music that followed. Highlights of the work included the drama of the opening ‘Chaos’, the beautiful soft tones of the soprano even when rising high above the choir in ‘Heaven is Here’, the images created in ‘Funeral March for a Boy’ and the final, very moving hymn:’ Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones’.

Purcell’s ‘Come Ye Songs of Art’ balanced Britten’s work well for the orchestration was lighter and was well supported by a splendid continuo (harpsichord and cello and/or double bass). The well-known counter-tenor duet, ‘Sound the Trumpet’ was given a more gentle approach than I am accustomed to hearing, but this performance by Ashley Harries and Karl Read was charming. It sounded authentic and very much in keeping with Purcell’s era especially with the excellent accompaniment by two recorders played by Philip Mizen and Adam Dopadlik. Another highlight of this composition was the soprano’s aria: ‘Bid the virtues, Bid the Graces’ with a worthy oboe accompaniment.  James Robinson (bass) also made a fine contribution in ‘These are the Sacred Charms’.

This was indeed a very pleasant evening’s entertainment.    

Review of a concert by Ely Consort , Burwell Village College Year 6 Singers and Perse Girls Junior School Choir in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell on Saturday 9th March 2013

March 23, 2013

Ely Consort , Burwell Village College Year 6 Singers and Perse Girls Junior School Choir warmed the hearts of a packed audience on a chilly night in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell on Saturday 9th March 2013. These fine singers presented a host of entertaining and beautifully produced material. With Matthew Rudd directing, Ely Consort opened the event with some splendid American numbers arranged by Daryl Runswick: ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘Shenandoah’. ‘Yankee Doodle’ opened the concert with a lively and spirited performance followed by a deliciously smooth, nostalgic ‘Shenandoah’.

In memory of Dave Brubeck who died last year, an instrumental group consisting of Claire Stevenson (saxophone), Daphna Sadeh Neu (bass), Jonathan Lilley (piano) and Roger Bett (drums) had us tapping our toes to ‘Take Five’.  The contributions by Claire Stevenson and Jonathan Lilley were particularly impressive.

Tonal beauty and well-shaped phrasing by Ely Consort endeared us to a lovely performance of ‘Sure on this shining Light’ by Morten Laurisden which was followed by a highly charismatic series of songs from Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’. John Simmons (solo bass) was particularly good, revelling in the role.

After interval the full choir brightened up the church with a stimulating performance of Alexander L’Estrange’s ‘Zimbe’, an exciting collection of songs from Africa. This composition suits a large choir and sounds from Ely Consort were well matched with the Junior singers. The flow of rhythmic chants, the melodious harmonies of the native African styles and the joyful involvement of the singers captivated the audience.

This was indeed a wonderful concert and you should book early for Ely Consort’s celebration of its 25th Silver Jubilee Anniversary concert on Saturday 22nd June at St. Andrews in Sutton.

Review of Jong-Gyung Park’s piano concert in the Hayward Theatre on Friday 8th March 2013 as part of the King’s School Ely Concert Series

March 10, 2013

ImageEly is very fortunate. The high standard of the performers in the concerts the King’s School Ely Concert Series provides is equal to any heard in big cities Europe-wise. Tonight’s impressive performer was Jong-Gyung Park who transfixed the audience with a high-powered contrasting programme of piano music.

Her concert opened with the potent ‘Klaviersonate, op. 1’ by Alban Berg. This relatively modern work was magnificent in her hands. With an unswerving touch, every note was given its necessary role. Thoughtful phrasing, variations of expression, exquisite timing and tremendous climaxes breathed fire into this complex composition. The internal tensions were delightfully explored.

The next composition, Chopin’s ‘Sonata no.3 in B minor, op. 58’ demonstrated Chopin’s many fascinating qualities: The first movement, Allegro maestoso, featured finely – shaped lyrical beauty, the composer’s nostalgic poignancy ever-present. In the second movement, ‘Scherzo. Molto Vivace’, she captured a certain playfulness while mastering perfectly its virtuosic demands. The serenity and attention to detail in the Largo movement led to an impressive final movement, its moments of flamboyant gymnastics magnificently handled while the whole overriding musicality transfixed the listeners.

Britten’s ‘Holiday Suite’ began the second half of the programme and she captured the character of each movement exactly. One could recognize the jagged snatches of sparkling splashes of water in ‘Early morning Bathe’. The composition was further enlivened with the smoothness of ‘Sailing’ , the mischievous helter-skelter moments in ‘Funfair’ and the serene stillness of ‘Night’.

‘Piano Sonata  No.26 in Eb major, op.81a’ by Beethoven gave us a taste of Classical music, although the romantic passions of the piece were well drawn out by this phenomenal performer. Her ability to create different dimensions of sound at different registers simultaneously gave this piece significant depth. The expressiveness of the three movements, ‘Les Adieux’, ‘L’Absence’ and ‘Le Retour’ was ever apparent.

The programme ended with a mammoth composition by Ravel. This ‘La Valse’ often harked back to the light-hearted smooth rhythm of the Viennese Waltz we all know and love, but in Ravel’s hands expertly performed by the fine pianist, the waltz was transformed into mammoth proportions including gigantic gestures and phenomenal technical demands.

The well deserved encore relaxed us with a delicate and sonorous ‘Berceuse’ by Chopin.

This was indeed yet another wonderful concert provided by the King’s School Concert Series. You are advised to book early for their next events including ‘La Bohème’ on Friday 10th May 2013 730 pm.

Review of a concert by Ely Consort , Burwell Village College Year 6 Singers and Perse Girls Junior School Choir in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell on Saturday 9th March 2013

March 10, 2013

Image (pictured soloist John Simmons) Ely Consort , Burwell Village College Year 6 Singers and Perse Girls Junior School Choir warmed the hearts of a packed audience on a chilly night in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell on Saturday 9th March 2013. These fine singers presented a host of entertaining and beautifully produced material. With Matthew Rudd directing, Ely Consort opened the event with some splendid American numbers arranged by Daryl Runswick: ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘Shenandoah’. ‘Yankee Doodle’ was a lively and spirited performance which was followed by a deliciously smooth, nostalgic ‘Shenandoah’.

In memory of Dave Brubeck who died last year, an instrumental group consisting of Claire Stevenson (saxophone), Daphna Sadeh Neu (bass), Jonathan Lilley (piano) and Roger Bett (drums) had us tapping our toes to ‘Take Five’.  The contributions by Claire Stevenson and Jonathan Lilley were particularly impressive.

Tonal beauty and well-shaped phrasing by Ely Consort endeared us to a lovely performance of ‘Sure on this shining Light’ by Morten Laurisden which was followed by a highly charismatic series of songs from Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’. John Simmons (solo bass) was particularly good, revelling in the role.

After interval the full choir brightened up the church with a stimulating performance of Alexander L’Estrange’s ‘Zimbe’, an exciting collection of songs from Africa. This composition suits a large choir and sounds from Ely Consort were well matched with the junior singers. The flow of rhythmic chants, the melodious full harmonies of the native African styles and the joyful involvement of the singers captivated the audience.

This was indeed a wonderful concert and you should book early for Ely Consort’s celebration of its 25th Silver Jubilee Anniversary concert on Saturday 22nd June at St. Andrews in Sutton.

Review: European Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Chatteris on 1st March 2013

March 3, 2013

Chatteris Music Society is fast establishing itself as a provider of first class international musical events. The European Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra’s concert at The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Chatteris on 1st March 2013, was magnificent.

This chamber orchestra of some 9 players demonstrated a genuine understanding of the music and their obvious involvement and talent brought familiar pieces alive. Led by Pawel Zuzanski (conductor, violinist and soloist) this wonderful group presented a splendid programme.

The concert opened with Vivaldi’s ‘Concerto for violin in A minor, RV 357 (from ‘La Stravaganza’)’. We were immediately captivated by the instrumentalists’ vibrant immediacy. The lively first and third movement s were well contrasted by the expressive melancholy of the second. It was rewarding to hear the traditional continuo (harpsichord and ‘cello) with further support in the bass by a single double bass and to see the orchestra led by the performing soloist.

The ‘Concerto for trumpet and orchestra n F major’ by Poncheielli  followed. Kirill Gusarov, the trumpet soloist, lit up the church with his impressive tone and many of the virtuosic flourishes were well mastered especially as the variations in the fourth movement gradually increased in their complexity.

The highlight for me was J.S.Bach’s ‘Concerto for two violins in D minor’ BWV 1043. This familiar work was given a stimulatingly fresh approach so that the composer, often associated with music of mathematical precision, came to life with passions and excitement that are rarely heard in such an erudite piece. The soloists (Pawel Zuzanski and Liya Yakupova) and the orchestra wrenched out every nuance of expression from the thrilling score. Intriguing rhythmic suspension and well considered balance between the players were particularly impressive features.

A fine performance of Corelli’s ‘Concerto Groseeop.6 no.4 in D minor began the second half of the concert. Two other major highlights followed: The moving serenity of Faure’s ‘Pavane Op 50’ and the character and energy these performers drew in Grieg’s familiar ‘Holberg Suite Op 40’ were superb.

The luscious tango trumpeter and orchestra played for the encore was positively mesmerizing.  This was indeed a wonderful concert.

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Review of The Sound of Music by Viva Theatre in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on Thursday 28th February 2013

March 3, 2013

We’ve all seen the film of ‘The Sound of Music’- possibly a number of times, so presenting this as a live local production in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, renowned for its delayed responses, was a mammoth task. However, Director and Producer, Dan Schumann and his team managed to pull it off with great success and the show I saw tonight was fantastic. It had all the ingredients of a good production and even though I knew what to expect of the story, the way it was presented and the talent of the performers made the show just as entertaining as the first time I saw it.

Maria (played by Shellie Baigent) was delightful. Her sparkling demeanour, her beautiful singing and dancing and her fine acting filled the role magnificently. Mother Abbess (Anthea Kenna) was even better than the one in the film. This Abbess had a mature voice just right for the part and her acting and stage presence made her one of the most credible performers. Other strong characters included the plastic-smiling Baroness Elsa (Jenny Surridge), Baron Von Trapp’s children Liesl (Ellie Bovingdon), Brigitta (Tarryn Richardson),Louisa (Holly Marsden), Marta (Zara Minns), Frederick (Ben Howard), Kurt (Lawrence Whitworth) and Gretl  (Lola Macdonald). Rolf (Duncan Earlham) and Herr Zeller (Charlie Ellerton) were also highly commendable.  David Tickner made a charismatic Max, Jon Bridgeman a fine Captain Von Trapp, Naomi Porter an efficient Schmidt, Ben Clark an outstanding Franz and David Moat a believable Admiral. The nuns provided excellent moments of ecclesiastical worth and the subtle differences of character were particularly effective especially between Sister Margaretta (Hetti Wood),  Sister Berthe (Lesley Wood) and Sister Sophia (Emily Palmer).  Indeed there was not a single ‘awkward’ moment in this memorable production which was all the better for being positioned in the Lady Chapel with its distinctive windows in the background. The strong sounds and firm harmonies the nuns as a whole produced in their liturgical music added to the authenticity.

The singing, acting, dancing and choreography were all admirable. With minimal instruments Stephen Kenna and musicians Oselayo Ojuri (percussion) and Alan Grayer (Bass), the Lady Chapel was filled with appropriate accompaniment. Stephen’s musical expertise brought out an amazing variety of sounds from his single keyboard which became a chamber orchestra (even the authentic-sounding strings) or a church organ in full blast when required.

Yet again, Viva is to be congratulated for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.       

Rosemary Westwell