Archive for July, 2013

Review of Perry Dennis and the Twilight Shadows at the Brook Soham on Saturday 20th July 2013

July 26, 2013


The tribute to Cliff Richard by Perry Dennis and the Twilight Shadows brought a wonderful sense of déjà vu in the Brook on Saturday. Thanks to Perry and the band, ‘Summer Holiday’, ’Living Doll’, ‘Congratulations’ and a host of other Cliff Richard numbers inspired us to relive those heady days at the clubs in our youth and the dance floor on this night was packed in similar style.

Perry Dennis and the Twilight Shadows are amazing entertainers and on this warm summer’s evening they wowed the audience with a steady flow of Cliff’s hits. Numbers like ‘In the country’, ‘C’mon Everyboday’, ‘Bachelor Boy’, ’When the girl in your arms’ and ‘Do you wanna dance’ had us transfixed . The band on their own brought alive memorable numbers like ‘Apache’, ‘Wonderful Land’ and ‘F.B.I’. Few favourites were left out of this night’s revelry.

The lead singer, Perry Dennis, knew how to play the audience and his fantastic voice captured the spirit of the songs perfectly. The band members played their parts to perfection. Pete Savage was a ‘mean’ lead guitar, Mark Jackson kept a toe-tapping feel on rhythm, Jay Hartop on bass set our hearts racing, especially in ‘Nimrod’, Paul Marsall amazed us with the excitement he created on drums and Rik Keys had some great moments on keyboard and guitar. These were not just talented instrumentalists; they also managed to add an amazing variety of authentic vocals, some way out of their natural voice range.

Billy G, who will be appearing at the Brook again on 17th August, provided a great warm up and sang a number of pop songs of other idols, including the unforgettable Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.

This was a great evening.

The event was raising funds for Lisa’s Fund in aid of the Arthur Rank House Charity and Robert Barnes was able to announce that the total he has raised in all for the Arthur Rank Hospice is £78,000 so far!

For more information about the performers contact

Rosemary Westwell

review of The Mayor’s Concert at the Guildhall on Wednesday 24th July 2013

July 26, 2013

One of the highlights of the Cambridge Music Festival is the Mayor’s Concert. This year’s event held in the Guildhall was highly successful and featured clarinetist Emma Johnson and pianist Pascal Rogé. Since winning the BBC young Musician of the Year in 1984, Emma has carved herself a thriving career as a professional performer, and Paul Rogé, since being admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11 has become a highly acclaimed concert pianist. They made a formidable pair.

The programme included works by Beethoven, Brahms, Poulenc, Milhaud and Debussy. These two very talented performers synchronized well, Emma and Pascal echoing each other in mood and expression perfectly.

The opening work was Beethoven’s ‘Variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’’ from Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’. This familiar aria was given new ground by these performers with undeniable skill and empathy. Even when playing some of the most rapid short sharp notes, these performers never faltered.

Their other joint works were also delightful: In ‘Sonata in F minor, Op 120 No 1’ by Brahms they revelled in the emotional pull of the composer’s expansive phrases and the variety of expression they managed to convey in single phrases was phenomenal. Sweeping from one register to another on the clarinet was no problem for Emma. Poulenc’s ‘Sonata for Clarinet and Piano’ was magical, Chopin’s ‘Fantasy Impromptu’ amazing and Milhaud’s Scaramouche was a wonderful journey into a world of childlike innocence and delight.

When Pascal played his solo items, it was clear that his favoured works would be by French composers. Speaking to him at the interval I was impressed to hear him make final decisions about which pieces he would perform. He obviously had a huge repertoire immediately at his fingertips. The audience was delighted when he chose to play some of the most popular pieces of the French repertoire: Arabesque no. 1 by Debussy, Debussy’s ‘Claire de Lune’ and Satie’s Gymnopédie no 1. as well as  the Poulenc Improvisations inspired by the French singer Edith Piaf and The Austrian music of Franz Schubert in turn. Pascal played with great skill, giving the pieces authenticity and momentum. 

Their encore, an arrangement of Debussy’s La Fille au cheveaux de lin’ was a delight and certainly well deserved.

The concert was in aid of Centre33 (providing support for young people aged 18 to 25) and Blue Smile (supporting children with mental health problems) For more information about the festival, contact

 Rosemary Westwell

A very special FlightThere they were, standing outside

July 8, 2013

A very special Flight

There they were, standing outside Heron House, March, Cambs., waving their table cloths enthusiastically. It worked! We had found them! My husband, the other dementia patients and the staff had something different, something special to take their thoughts away from their sad situation. I was in a small plane being flown by a very generous pilot who flew to the home and tipped the plane’s wings to them. It was a special day.  

It all started when I wrote the story of my husband and I as he slowly declined into dementia . The book is a novel: “John, Dementia and Me” . I wrote it to bring the plight of dementia sufferers and their carers to the everyone’s attention.  As I sort publicity, I was invited to speak on Radio Cambridgeshire.

In the Sue Dougan Show, Terry Holloway, Deputy Chairman of Marshall’s in Cambridge was with me. He very kindly took an interest in the book, bought a copy and emailed me to say how he had enjoyed reading it. I replied, thanking him and, using my Aussie cheek, dared to say that ‘I had forgotten to ask for a free flight! ‘ I was expecting a reply that informed me that they did not ‘do’ free frights but what they did do was … To my surprise and delight Terry agreed.

So, on Monday 8th July, on a warm and sunny day, I arrived at Marshall’s Airport and was soon shepherded by Terry towards a little Cessna plane. We climbed in and within a few moments he lifted the plane effortlessly into the air. It was magical flying over Cambridge looking down at the lush green fields , the dinky little houses and even the tractor and the lorry holding up the traffic on the A10. The River Cam wound its way through the countryside and at one stage we could see the spires of the Cambridge Colleges.

I spoke to Terry through a microphone attached to headphones, making me really feel the part. We listened to the control tower giving out information and instructions throughout the journey. The voices had a special ease of delivery that exuded confidence and assurance much needed by me. I willed myself not to be afraid but my hands gripped the seat beneath very tightly. I made sure I did not grab the shelf next to me that might have been an arm rest in a car. In the Cessna it opened the door.

In front of us were no end of controls, dials and switches that Terry obviously had no difficulty in managing. We were flying over 100 miles and hour and over 1,000 feet. He flew us over Waterbeach and Ely. He had to be careful not to fly in the American Airforce space so we skirted Ely Cathedral . I know Ely Cathedral from ground level quite well, however from the skies above, she looked magnificent but not as an awe-inspiring towering edifice to look up to, but as a testament to man’s inspiration and building ingenuity. The Ship of the Fens looked as if she were in appropriate proportion and perfectly placed on the centre of the sunny Isle of Ely. 

We flew over my home in Witchford and I was able to note that the trouble I had gone to to have the trees trimmed made the garden look much better than when I had seen it on Google.

Terry explained how he would follow the railway line from Ely to March where my husband’s care home is. He told me how pilots always keep to the left when following a line so that if another pilot is coming from the opposite direction using the same line, they might not meet each other. 

We followed the railway line and Terry asked me where my husband’s care home was. I could probably have given directions in a car – but from above in a plane? I remembered that we always pass Wendreda Church when we go to see my husband and that along a bit and leftish from there we should come across Heron House. Terry spotted the home first. The staff waving at us gave the game away. We were sure we had the right place. Terry, a twinkle in his eye, let the plane dip and swerve grinning saying that perhaps we should stop before someone took our number. I smiled weakly, still holding very firmly onto the seat – I did not like to admit I was feeling sick. However, all was well and we must have flown over the home a number of times – long enough, I believe, for my husband to realize something special was happening in his honour. We turned for home and met the fluffy clouds that had hovered in front of us and below. I willed the navigation instruments to work when we flew directly into a cloud, unable to see anything except the whiteness that blanketed us. We broke free and within what seemed an amazingly short space of time we were soon back above Marshall’s and I could see the white central lines of the runway straight ahead. We landed very smoothly in spite of Terry warning me there was a cross wind which might have things a bit bumpy.

This was one very special time for me, my husband and the staff and patients at Heron House. I will never forget this exhilarating experience and little I can do will ever fully express the gratitude I feel to Terry Holloway and Marshall’s. I will now watch with keen interest to see where their planned flights will take us in future.  Paris, Amsterdam and Milan, I think Terry said, are destinations on the cards from September. Watch this space! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun’.)

Thank you Terry; thank you Marshall’s!Image

Review of Ely Choral Society’s concert in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel on Sunday 30th June 2013

July 8, 2013

On a rare warm summer’s evening there is nothing better than to attend a concert in Ely Cathedral’s Lady Chapel. Ely Choral Society’s event In Nature’s Realm on Saturday was indeed well worth attending. The programme was interesting and varied; the participants in fine form.

Conducted by Andrew Parnell, Ely Choral Society was joined by Ely Youth Choir and Jonathan Lilley (piano) to present works by Dvořák, Fauré, Debussy, Rutter, Britten, Ireland, Saint-Saëns, Elgar and Dillon.

Of Ely Choral Society’s offerings, Edward Elgar’s My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land, Spanish Serenade and As Torrents in Summer were their best. This choir seemed to have a special affinity for this composer and the parts moved in smooth blended harmony to produce delightful sounds. The other intriguing works the choir presented included Dvořák’s Songs of NatureFour Songs by Fauré, Five Flower Songs by Britten and Deux Choeurs by Saint-Saëns.

Ely Youth Choir are getting better and better and their songs were a charming addition to the programme this evening.  In Blue Mountain River by Cara Dillon arranged by P Hunt the parts gelled well and the solos delightful. John Rutter’s Look at the World flowed beautifully.

Jonathan Lilley added some magnificent solo items to the programme, selecting works that were most appropriate for the venue. Especially impressive were the works by Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent  dans l’air du soir and Jardins sous la pluie. The fluidity of the harmonies was well expressed and the pointed notes of the rain in the gardens in the second piece clearly portrayed. Jonathan’s phenomenal talent and technique were in no doubt as he played Ireland’s The Cherry Trees and The Palm and May. He revelled in the lyricism of the first piece and the luxurious rolls and flourishes in the second.  His accompanying as expected was supportive and faultless. He will be missed when he takes up a new post at Waltham Abbey in September.

Ely Choral Society’s next major event will be


Review of George Harliono and Adelaide Harlionos playing in St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Chatteris for the Chatteris Music Society on Saturday 29th June 2013

July 8, 2013

At the age of 12, George Harliono is undoubtedly one of UK’s child prodigies. The phenomenal technique and maturity of expression he demonstrated in some of the pieces in this concert were on a par with adult professional performers. He also showed skill as an accompanist, adjusting his touch on the piano perfectly to support his 8-year old sister playing the ‘cello.

George began with a magic performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in A minor BWV904. Expecting a rather mechanical performance because of his age, I was overwhelmed with the maturity of understanding in George’s playing. Although some may insist that the crescendo should not be used because it did not exist in Bach’s time, nor in fact did the piano, George was quite right to greatly increase or diminish the volume, alter his touch significantly and use all the expressive devices of the piano he could. As a result Bach’s interwoven fabric of interplaying and overlapping voices came to life. While appearing perfectly at ease, George transfixed the audience with that special tension that is created in such a phenomenal performance as this.

Of his other solo performances, Maurice Ravel’s Alborada del Gracioso, a complex and technically demanding work, was another highlight of the evening. His fingers flew over the keys or paused potently on important notes creating an exhilarating feeling of Spanish flamboyance and character. He integrated the variety of challenging rhythms, rapid flourishes, and punctuated episodes into one amazing whole experience.

His other excellent offerings were Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.21 in C major ‘Waldstein’ Op.53, Liszt’s La Campanella and a much deserved encore Chopin’s Scherzo No.1.

8-year old Adelaide, his sister, was another very talented performer who played her ‘cello very well. Her tone and expression mesmerised the audience with her performances of Massenet’s Elegie Op10.no5, Mendelssohn’s Song without Words Op. 109, Schumann’s Fantasiestuck No.1 Op 73 and Faure’s Elegie Op24.

This was indeed a wonderful evening.

The next concert will feature Charles Owen (pianist) with Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra on Saturday 7th September in the Parish Church Chatteris at 7 pm (phone 01354 669104/692009).