Review of Ely Consort’s ‘Music for Anniversaries and Advent’ in St. Andrew’s Church, Soham on Saturday 30th November 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 http://www.elyconsort.org.uk

Rosemary Westwell

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

  1. Nick Says:

    Hi Rosemary. Glad you enjoyed our concert last night.

    May I suggest you check Edmunds surname though. I think you have it right in the tags and wrong in the text.

    Many thanks.

  2. rjwestwell Says:

    Thank you Nick. There is always a mistake somewhere. Thank you for alerting me. I hope it is right now. Apologies to Edmund Aldhouse the organist. His name might appear incorrectly in the press if they publish.

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