Review of the concert entitled ‘Peace on Earth’ by Ely Choral Society and Ely Youth Choir in St. Mary’s Church, Ely on Sunday 8th December 2013

Andrew Parnell directed a highly enjoyable and uplifting evening celebrating the Christmas Season in St. Mary’s Church Ely on Sunday. The programme was very well designed and showed the choir at its best. Items seemed to include the usual Christmas Carol favourites until they were performed when we discovered that the traditional tunes were not always used. However, there was still plenty of opportunity for audience participation in the traditional carols we know such as ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, ‘Joy to the World’, ‘We Three Kings’ and ‘God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen’.

The first half of the programme interestingly featured mostly local composers including Andrew, Tim Alban-Jones, John Rutter, John Lawson Baker, David Ford, and Dr Arthur Wills, (Honorary President of Ely Choral Society). Their respective compositions were all very pleasing and well performed by the Choir and/or Ely Youth Choir. Rutter’s The Angel Carol’ sung by Ely Youth Choir was especially commendable with a fine baritone addition.  Dr Wills’ arrangement of ‘The Coventry Carol’ was one of the most spectacular that demonstrated how well Ely Choral Society can master Wills’ unique compositional style that has no holds barred when it comes to dramatic expression. Throughout the evening Edmund Aldhouse accompanied superbly on the church organ as required.

After interval Gustav Holst’s ‘’Christmas Day’ set the mood well and a series of carols and readings rounded the concert off beautifully. Highlights for me were ‘Mary’s Child’ by Geoffrey Ainger, arranged by William Llewellyn and what I know as ‘The Shepherd’s Farewell’ by Berlioz sung by the Ely Choral Society. The readings were also well chosen, reflecting the themes of ‘peace’ and ‘Christmas’ most appropriately. The readers included Sylvia Bulley, Jeremy Friend-Smith, Ellis Hociej, and John Bedford who read works by Henry Longfellow, John Betjeman, Maya Angelou and Seamus Heaney.

Ely Choral Society’s next event will be ‘Requiem and Vesperae Selennes de Confessore’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 12th April 2014 at 730 pm.

For further information contact http://www.elychoralsociety.org

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