Archive for November, 2013

Review of Ely Consort’s ‘Music for Anniversaries and Advent’ in St. Andrew’s Church, Soham on Saturday 30th November 2013

November 30, 2013

Matthew Rudd (Director), Ely Consort and Edmund Aldhouse (organist) presented a magnificent concert on Saturday. The programme was packed with appropriate works for the season. Usually, the word ‘challenging’ denotes pieces that are too difficult for the performers, but on this occasion, the challenging works chosen for the first half of the programme were beautifully handled by these fine musicians.

Choir, conductor and organist were of one mind and throughout the evening their music was exquisitely shaped, the parts clear and well-balanced, the tonal quality first-rate, the dynamics (louds and softs) effective, and rests and detached notes wonderfully controlled. The vocal technique of these fine singers was constantly apparent.

The first pieces were highly appropriate: works by Britten (for his 100th anniversary) ‘Hymn to St. Cecilia’ (choir) and ‘Prelude and Fugue on a theme of Vittoria (organ). ‘Andreas Christi famulus’ by Crecquillon marked St. Andrew’s Day. Works by Howells included ‘Sarabande in modo elegiac’ (organ) and ‘Take him, earth, for cherishing’ (choir).  Of this first group of pieces, the highlight for me was the very moving ‘Take him, earth, for cherishing’ commissioned for the memorial service for President Kennedy after his untimely and sudden death. The words were keenly expressed with moments of great anguish and agitation contrasted by very moving episodes of prayerful application.

It was in the second part of the programme that the choir really let its hair down and we revelled in more traditional favourites. These were very musically and movingly expressed beginning with a wonderful rendition of ‘O come, O come Immanuel’ arranged by John Rutter. Other delights featured work by Michael Praetorius, Stanley Vann, Carter, Mendelssohn, Bach, Vaughan Williams and Poulenc. One notable extra was a moving composition by Edward Skelton (previously a key member of the choir).

Edmund Aldhouse supported the singers admirably as well as performing a number of solo items that balanced the programme well. The one that appealed to me most was ‘Toccata on Veni Emmanuel’ by Andrew Carter.  Edmund let rip on the new organ in St. Andrew’s Church and performed this rousing work with a real sense of drama and panache.

Overall, this was indeed a magical evening of high quality music and the encore, ‘Nova, Nova’ by Bob Chilcott ended to evening perfectly.

For more information

Rosemary Westwell


Review of Anthony Brown (saxophone) and Leo Nicholson (piano) presenting a concert at the Hayward Theatre Ely on Friday 29th November 2013

November 30, 2013

It is impossible to get 100% in a music exam. After all it is so subjective. However, after tonight’s performance by these two amazing musicians, I had to agree that it is indeed feasible. All credit must go to Anthony Brown who demonstrated a phenomenal technique and highly musical approach to the saxophone, a much maligned instrument. He was accompanied by an equally talented pianist, Leo Nicholson and between them, they produced music that transfixed the listeners – it was so good. The synchronism they achieved was out of this world – no matter how tricky the run or the rests, they were always spot on.

The varied programme was action-packed and included works by Singelee, Piazzolla, Richard Rodney Bennett, Ibert, Maurice, Gershwin Debussy, Heath and Dubois. When the first saxophone flourish sounded we knew we were going to experience a wonderful concert. These two knew how to master the trickiest passages, the exacting articulation and the most sonorous  of passages. Highlights for me were Piazzolla’s ‘Histoire du Tango’: ‘Bordel 1900’ and ‘Cafe 1930’, Paule Maurice’s ‘Song for my Love’ and the ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ and ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ by Dubois.

‘Bordel 1900’ was the first of many pieces that exuded magical rhythms brilliantly synchronised by these two highly talented performers. The tonal beauty of the saxophone was fully explored in ‘Cafe 1930’. We were soon transported into the dreamy, relaxed coffee haze of a well frequented cafe.

The tonal beauty of the saxophone was again brought to the fore in ‘Song for my Love’ while the frenetic buzz of a very busy bumble bee in ‘The Flight of the Bumble Bee’ was noticeable as these amazing performers whizzed through the demanding passages.

Dubois’ clever composing in ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ was enhanced further by these musicians’ intense musical understanding. The languorous Tortoise, confident with his victory was well contrasted with the frantic energy of the fickle hare.

This was a wonderful concert and the encore was well deserved.

These two may be heard again in the Purcell room in London on the 9th January 2014. For more information contact

The next King’s School Ely Concert Society event will feature Tom Coulson (trumpet) and Christopher Baxter (piano) in the Recital Hall on Friday 17th January at 730 pm contact Lisa Bushell (01353 653931) email:

Review of The King’s School Ely’s Charity Concert on Friday 15th November in the Hayward Theatre

November 17, 2013

The King’s School Ely’s Charity Concert on Friday 15th November in the Hayward Theatre was another crowning success for this excellent school. The Hayward Theatre was packed with performers and tickets were soon sold out.

The programme featured many of their well-known performers: the Concert Band, a Percussion Ensemble, the Minstrels, Brass Ensembles, the King’s Barbers, the Jazz Band, Spikes Cello group and King’s Ely Orchestra.

The larger groups provided some real highlights: the Concert Band, the Jazz Band, and the King’s School Ely Orchestra. The King’s Barbers (directed by Peter North) also gave an outstanding performance.

The Concert Band opened the concert and as the first notes were struck the wow factor was immediately apparent. The Director, Michel Sedgwick, really knows how to inspire his students to engage effectively with powerful and exciting rhythms. ‘All the Best’ by Otto M. Schwartz was played with precision and musicality, and the empathy between the sections was particularly noticeable.  Dave Brubeck’s fascinating rhythms were brought alive in ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk ‘arranged by Stephen Schwalgin while ‘Tom Jones in Concert’ led us through a delightful medley of his well-known songs which were played with the same suave sensuality that we associate with the singer.

Julian Landymore, another vital director, this time of the Jazz Band, moulded the group into an amazingly cohesive phenomenon that gelled perfectly the easy smooth sounds and ‘natural’ off beat rhythms.   The pieces were well chosen: Duke Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’ arranged by Bob Lowden, ‘Just Before Midnight’ by Howard Rowe, and ‘Cosy Toes’ by Lenny Niehaus.

The King’s School Ely orchestra, conducted by Martin Leigh, gave one of the best performances I have heard this orchestra give. The first movement of Beethoven’s first symphony was a classic choice and performance in all sense of the word, with the orchestra reaching a much higher standard than expected of any ‘school’ orchestra.

The remaining items were also delightful and helped to make this concert yet another highly successful event at the beginning of the school year.

The two charities the school is supporting, The Old Dispensary in Ely and Food Bank were able to express their thanks with short speeches by representatives of these organizations at the end of the concert.

Future events by the King’s School:

Thursday 21 November 1310 Ely Cathedral lunchtime Live Concert

Friday 22 November 1730 Ely Cathedral King’s Ely Chapel Choir sings Evensong

Tuesday 26 November 1400 Recital Hall Trumpet masterclass Paul Archibald

Friday 29 November 1930 Recital Hall King’s Ely Concert Society Anthony Brown and Leo Nicholson (saxophone and piano)

Wednesday 4 December – Saturday 7 December 1930 Hayward Theatre Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Friday 13 December 1100 Ely Cathedral King’s Ely Carol Service

For more information contact: Lisa Bushell (01353 653931 email:


Review of ‘An Evening of Julian Lloyd Webber and Friends’ at Cambridge Corn Exchange on Wednesday 30th October 2013

November 6, 2013

Julian Lloyd Webber’s penultimate concert as Cambridge Corn Exchange’s Artist in Residence was highly successful. The three performers, all well-renowned musicians of the era, played with exquisite technical and musical expertise. There was no flamboyant gesture, delicate whisper or rhythmic complexity that they could not master with ease.

The programme was well designed with much variety and included works by Beethoven, Weber, Chopin, Prokofiev, William Lloyd Webber, Fauré and Brahms.  

Julian’s highly expressive, sonorous technique certainly won the day. This was especially evident in the Fauré. Emma Johnson, well-known since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1984, produced beautiful sounds from her clarinet. Even the highest notes had that special rich tone that only the best clarinet players can create. John Lill (piano) demonstrated a keen understanding of the effectiveness of subtle changes in touch while effortlessly mastering amazing feats of virtuosic strength and embellishment.

 The three performers worked very well together, synchronising wide-ranging dynamics perfectly, first demonstrated by Beethoven’s ‘Trio no. 4 in B flat, Op 11’. The second movement was charm itself, while in the third their huge talent showed us glimpses of Beethoven’s humour that is rarely seen.

‘Grand Duo Concertant in E flat, op 48’ by Weber played by Emma and John, moved up the complexity a notch. One of the highlights of the evening was the sheer beauty and phenomenal control of the extremely soft, gentle melody in the second movement.  

John opened the second part of the concert with a wonderful performance of ‘Nocturne in C major op 48 no.1’ by Chopin which featured delicious timing. Every note was expressed carefully and purposefully.  John followed with a most challenging ‘Toccata in D Minor op. 11’ by Prokofiev.  There was no doubt that this was a real ‘toccata’ and the rapid complex mass of sound in John’s hands was always faultless and clearly delineated.

Julian’s appeal is his down-to-earth homeliness and his performance of two works by his father, William Lloyd Webber were a pleasant interlude with many moments of poignancy and nostalgia.

The final work by Brahms ‘Trio in A minor, op. 114’, brought this delightful evening to a powerful and fulfilled close.

Julian will feature next at the Corn Exchange (, tel: 01223 357851.) on 22nd May 2014 at 7.30 pm with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme includes Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

Review of Ely Choral Society’s ‘Monarchy Restored’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 26th October 2013

November 6, 2013

In ‘Monarchy Restored’, Ely Choral Society, under the expert directorship of Andrew Parnell, brought alive the sense of joy and pleasure that music of the finest quality engenders. At the time of the Restoration the revival of music for the King and his court brought about the composition of a number of magnificent works. 

Composers featured included Henry Purcell, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Pelham Humphrey and John Blow. Ely Choral Society’s large chorus filled the Lady Chapel with glorious sounds, especially in the joyous, precise opening of ‘Jubilate Deo in D’ by Purcell, the highly effective expressiveness in ‘O Lord my God’ by Pelham Humphrey, the beauty of ‘Let Thy hand be strengthened’ by John Blow and in the grand finale of ‘Come ye Sons of Art’ by Purcell.  

The choir were joined by some excellent, well-selected musicians. The soloists were outstanding: Ashley Harries (counter-tenor), Mark Gotham (bass), David Calvert (tenor), Catriona Clark (soprano) and Karl Read (counter-tenor). They were supported by a first-class orchestra: The Ely Festival Players led by Helen Medlock. Edmund Aldhouse, a relatively new face to the musical community of Ely, accompanied sensitively and faultlessly on the organ.

Highlights for me were ‘Let Thy hand be strengthened’ and ‘Ode on the death of Mr Henry Purcell’ by John Blow and the final ‘Come ye Sons of Art’. The recorders and restrained impulse of the sonorous continuo (organ and cello) created a most impressive gentle homage to the great composer Purcell in the ‘Ode’ on his death.  Ashley Harries shone in the final ‘Come ye Sons of Art’ and the duet of the counter-tenors was especially effective. The contributions of Catriona Clark, Mark Gotham and the chorus in the final movement of this work brought this celebration of the restoration of the monarchy to a most fitting and glorious close. 

More events to enjoy include:

Ely Choral Society:

 Sunday 8th December 2013, 7 pm St Mary’s Church, Ely ‘Christmas Concert’

Saturday 12th April 2014, 7.30 pm Ely Cathedral ‘Requiem’ by Mozart

Saturday 12th July 2014, 7.30 pm Hayward Theatre, The Kings School Ely, ‘Concert version of Carmen, Bizet’


Ely Sinfonia:

Saturday 22nd March 2014, 730 pm, Ely Cathedral ‘An Elgar Celebration’


Ely Consort:

Saturday 30th November 2013, 730 pm, St. Andrew’s Church, Soham ‘Britten and Howells anniversaries and music for Advent’


Ely Youth Choir (conducted by Andrew Parnell):

16th November Ely Cathedral Christmas Fair guest appearance

8th December Ely Choral Society Christmas Concert

6th April 2014 Ely Youth Choir Festival

12th April Ely Choral Society Spring Concert

15th June Prom at the Palace – family concert the Old Palace

June Integrated Youth Choir – Fundraiser for Highfield School

12th July Carmen – Ely Choral Society Summer concert

(for more information about this choir contact or contact Ely Youth Choir’s Administrator Mrs Sylvia Bulley, tel: (01353 774733 ) or email: youth

Review of King’s Company’s production of ‘Black Comedy’ in the Hayward Theatre on November the 6th 2013

November 6, 2013

King’s Company’s production of ‘Black Comedy’, a farce by Peter Shaffer, was highly entertaining on the first of three nights’ performances in the Hayward Theatre. Under the Directorship of Adella Charlton and Nicholas Limm, these talented performers never missed a trick. The carefully choreographed actions had the audience in stitches as Brinsley Miller, a poor sculptor, suffered every imaginable mishap while he and his fiancée waited for the very wealthy Georgia Bamberger to rescue him from his poverty and buy his work.

The whole play pivoted on a reversal of situation, character and plot. It was a little disconcerting when the actors began the first scene in complete darkness. We realized, eventually, that this in itself was a reversal so that when stage lights were on – the actors acted as though they were in complete darkness. Some of the antics were absolutely hilarious as the characters interacted without knowing for certain who they were interacting with.

Charlie O’Connor as Brinsley Miller was excellent. The sense of panic he conveyed as his world collapsed around him was phenomenal. Fiona Campbell developed the nervous, tea-totaller Miss Furnival into a highly amusing, over intoxicated neighbour that finally disported herself around the stage in magnificent abandonment. Danny Hayes as Harrold Gorringe was one of the most colourful characters, his camp exuberance and amazing gestures and facial expressions were positively delightful. Emily Braybrooke as Clea, was a wonderful addition to the events in the dark; she stirred up the plot deliciously and her mischievous playfulness from above was deliciously comical. Lucy Bromwich, as Brinsley’s fiancée Carol Melkett and her Dad Colonel Melkett, played by Matt Ley,  developed a credible father-daughter relationship and Alice Crofts as Shuppanzigh from the London Electricity Board  and Amy Rosenberg as Georgia Bamberger took advantage of their similar accents  to highlight the contrast of their representation of the opposite ends of the social spectrum. The lowly electrician brought light into the characters’ lives, the wealthy art lover ended unceremoniously disappearing into the depths of the cellar as the characters realized where there true hearts lay.

This was an excellent choice of play and a wonderful production making it a highly entertaining evening.

The next production to look forward to is ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ in the Hayward Theatre from the 4th to 7th December 2013. Contact:, tel: 01353 653931