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

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