Archive for March, 2014

Review: of Chatteris Music Society’s Chamber Philharmonic Europe Concert at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul Chatteris on Friday 21st March 2014

March 23, 2014

Chatteris Music Society was on a winner when it invited the Chamber Philharmonic Europe Orchestra to present a concert at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Chatteris last Friday.
There was nothing boring or dated about this orchestra, even though they performed classic pieces. It was no wonder, for I discovered that the leader Michel Gershwin and his son Pavel are related to the American composer George Gershwin of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ fame. Originating from Russia, the family name should be Gershovich, I was told, and the name ‘Gershwin’ is an Anglicised form. Michel also told me that their surname is changed according to the country in which they play, revealing the true ‘European’ nature of this amazing group.
The instrumentalists exuded energy, excitement, colour and virtuosic flair in their playing. The Vivaldi concerto for strings sparkled, the continuo forming a firm foundation. Trumpeter Kirill Gusarov played Albinoni’s trumpet concerto with particularly clean tonguing, sonorous phrasing and with a real sense of joy in performance. The orchestra performed Bach’s concerto for violin and orchestra with mesmerising vivacity, spirit and character.
The three works that followed after interval also excelled and featured Holst’s attractive ‘Saint Paul’s Suite’ for strings and orchestra, Wolf’s quirky but highly enjoyable ‘Italian Serenade’ and the graceful Mozart ‘Divertimento in F’.
The two encores were received enthusiastically by the packed audience and included a delightful piece featuring the trumpet followed by a highly entertaining work that started as Mozart and then cheekily branched out into a bit of Beethoven (with echoes of ‘Fur Elise’ and the 5th Symphony), a dash of – was it the Jewish song ‘Havanagela’,the Pizzicato Polka, a Viennese Waltz, a bit of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance? Whatever the case, the musicians’ sheer unadulterated joy in creating unforgettable, highly entertaining and first-rate music throughout the evening was awe-inspiring.
You are advised to book early for the next concert on Saturday 10th May: ‘An Evening of Music with Amit Yahav’.

Review: Witchford Village College’s production of ‘Oliver’ on Thursday 20th March

March 23, 2014

Witchford Village College presented a magnificent production of ‘Oliver’ last night. It was amazing to see so many talented, hard-working students present such a first-rate, highly entertaining show that has so many familiar characters and songs. The professionalism of the cast was particularly noticeable – coping perfectly with the slight interruption caused by a power cut in the whole village. We hardly noticed it.
The singing was very accomplished, the voices pure, well- pitched and placed – very easy on the ear – – there was none of the strained shouting that many pop singers indulge in these days. The acting was fantastic – especially by the renowned Fagin (played by Alex Gordon) and the story was cleverly shaped to give us an authentic, moving show every bit as good the others I have seen.
Oliver (played by Imogen Arthur) exemplified innocence. Mr. Bumble (Aiden Roe) and Widow Corney (Kimberleigh Hewson) formed a right controlling pair. The Artful Dodger (Alfie Hiller) was a cheeky lad wise beyond his years, while Bill Sykes (Luke Scott) was every bit the cruel villain with his loyal Nancy (Gabrielle Le Roux) finding it very difficult to break free from their turbulent relationship. The remaining cast were also strong, believable characters: Mr Sowerberry (Luke Higginson), Mrs. Sowerberry (Lauren Tufnell), Charlotte (Sophie Barham), Noah Claypole (Joe Gillet), Bet (Emma Little), Mr Brownlow (Skye Humbert), Mrs Bedwin and Old Sally (Jaimee Tuck) and Dr Grimwig (Joshua Taylor). The Workhouse Boys, Fagin’s Gang and Londoners were splendid.
If there must be a highlight, the one for me was Fagin’s ‘Reviewing the situation’ – absolutely marvellous.
Director Lisa Barker, Musical Director Charles Berthon and team are to be congratulated for such a wonderful night’s entertainment. Book me in for the next show!

Review: of Mixing their Music V: a boys’ voices concert in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 15th March 2014

March 16, 2014

Ely Cathedral was made for a concert like this. Choristers from Ely, Chelmsford and St. Edmundsbury Cathedrals presented an event that showed their voices at their best. The clear, ringing tones of well-trained boys’ voices could be heard throughout the Cathedral, no need for microphones here.

They sang a programme of serious and light-hearted music, ranging from Benjamin Britten’s ‘Missa Brevis’ to Horovitz’s ‘Noah’s Flood’. There were some particularly well-known and well-liked pieces including Fauré’s ‘Pie Jesu’, and ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ and César Frank’s ‘Panis Angelicus’.

Under the astute directorship of Paul Trepte, James Davy and James Thomas these choristers acquitted themselves splendidly. Particularly noticeable were the beauty, strength and purity of their voices and their sustained phrasing supported by impressive breath control.

Accompanists on organ and piano included Edmund Aldhouse, Laurence Lyndon-Jones and Daniel Soper. Ashley Harries on double bass and Will Sivier (percussion) enhanced the lively rendition of ‘Noah’s Flood’.

This was indeed a splendid and well supported evening.

Notable events to attend in the future include the free organ recitals on Sundays at 5.15. Those performed in Ely Cathedral will feature Alexander Berry on 6th July, Paul Trepte on the 3rd August and Sarah MacDonald on the 31st August.


Review: review of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Corn Exchange on Thursday 13th March 2014.

March 14, 2014

After a splendid talk given by James Day, the concert in the Corn Exchange opened with a large combined orchestra playing a new composition from an educational project headed by Paul Griffiths.  The work was inspired by the second movement of Beethoven’s seventh symphony and indeed there were many patterns that mimicked Beethoven’s rhythmic style along with some magical combinations of sounds, especially in the third movement.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra then took the stage to play the ‘Fidelio Overture’. Conductor Paul Daniel inspired great energy, drama and expressive contrasts in the performance.

John Lill was undoubtedly the star of the evening with his wonderfully authoritative and accurate performance of the ‘Emperor’ Concerto. His power, musicality and ability to play the smoothest, rapid scale passages I have ever heard, gave substance and authenticity to the composition.  

Beethoven’s seventh symphony, the final work of the evening, was in grand style and the emphatic opening led into great moments of rhythmical excitement, whimsical delicacy or suspense. The constant throb of the pavane rhythm in the second movement was heightened with a variety of effects: sorrowful themes, impassioned climaxes and moments of sweetness and precision. The break-neck scherzo with its very familiar theme followed and the work ended in grand style with a movement that reinforced the potency, strength and rhythmic exhilaration of the whole composition.  

There was no doubt why the packed audience was so enthusiastic. This was a magnificent evening.       

The next major event for the Royal Philharmonic will be on 22nd May at 730 pm at the Corn Exchange featuring Nicholos Collon (conductor), Julian Lloyd Webber (cello) and Lucy Hall (soprano) performing the Four Sea Interludes by Britten, Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Symphony no. 3 by Vaughan Williams.

Contact: 01223 357851



Review: Darren Jeffery (bass-baritone) with Anthony Seddon (piano) in the Hayward Theatre on Friday 7th March 2014.

March 14, 2014

Darren Jeffery is undoubtedly ‘one of the finest Bass-baritones of his generation’. Since many of us knew him as a young lad at the King’s School who had a good singing voice, he has managed to maintain his very pleasant personality, while establishing himself with a highly successful career as a singer. He has sung at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, English National Opera and Glyndebourne and is obviously very much in demand. We were fortunate indeed to have him visit us here in Ely.

Darren filled the theatre with his rich well-rounded tone. His amazing breath control, his sense of phrasing and his wonderful sense of humour and engrossment in the roles he portrayed made his performance spellbinding. He sang an array of songs by a variety of composers that included Handel, Ireland, Massenet, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Puccini, Martini, Keel, De Curtis, Jennings/Horner and Claude-Michel Schönberg. 

His generosity included offering students from the King’s School Ely a spot in the programme and Emily James, Lucy Pearce, Matt Diss, Emma Jones and the King’s Barbers certainly acquitted themselves splendidly.

Darren was accompanied by Anthony Seddon who unerringly reflected the spirit of the songs perfectly. 

Highlights for me were Schubert’s ‘Ständchen’, Mozart’s ‘The Catalogue Aria’ from ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘My Heart will go on’ by Jennings and Horner. Darren’s warm tone, smooth lines and powerful support brought these songs alive. If he could be persuaded to make CDs of popular music I am sure he would soon be sold out. His two encores for the concert were justly deserved and demonstrated Darren’s delightful wit and wonderful talent again, ending this glorious evening in a most fitting way. .

For further information:

Review: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ A Viva Youth Production at The Brook Soham Thurs 6th March 14

March 14, 2014

Viva Youth never ceases to amaze me. Although they are ‘amateur’ performers, there was nothing ‘amateurish’ about the production I saw last night. It was fantastic – every bit as good as the London production I had seen previously. Even more so, these performers have a special freshness and vitality that is often missing from the more commercially-driven enterprises in the big cities. We are very fortunate to have this thriving company in our midst.

With the theatre decorated appropriately, we were immediately made to feel that we were part of the production, sitting in furnished seats, decorative lighting above. When the action started, we knew this was not going to be just a string of the popular songs, this was real acting. The story progressed wonderfully, creating spine-chilling moments that contrasted well with episodes of poignant, impassioned romance. One of the highlights for me was the duet between Christine and Raoul. It was unforgettable.

Duncan Earlam as the Phantom was a great substitute for Michael Crawford. His powerful voice with its seductive nuances and his creepy actions trying to seduce the innocent Christine made his part come alive. Lauriane Borde was a superb Christine, her beautiful voice rising splendidly to those chilling high notes, the emotions of her impossible situation always present. Ben Clerk as Raoul was also fantastic. His mature rich tone and authentic role-play were unsurpassable. Another splendid performer was Laura Day as the spiteful Diva Carlotta. She somehow managed to alter her wonderful voice just enough to give it that shrill edge that befitted Carlotta exactly. Charlie Gillet made a delightfully entrenched Italian opera singer as Piangi, and Lee Sharwood ( Firmin) and Phil Evans (Andre) were deliciously gung-ho, insensitive new owners. There was no nonsense from Madam Giry played by Ellie Bovingdon and Rebecca Storey gave the character of Meg genuine credibility and substance.

The large ballet chorus and ensemble enhanced the production with well-focused and tuneful voices, managing faultlessly some very tricky passages. The choreography, as expected, was excellent too. Much of the atmosphere was created by the superb band of musicians. The band with Musical Director Stephen Kenna tackled this mammoth, challenging score effortlessly and the long list of the crew, led by Producer and Director Dan Schumann, are to be congratulated for an amazing West –End type production. This, surely, will be impossible to top – we look forward to their next production which will be ‘Les Miserables’ in July. It should be well worth attending

Review: of the Gala Concert on Saturday 1st March in the Hayward Theatre, Ely presented by the King’s School Ely

March 2, 2014

There is no doubt that the standard of music was very high in the Gala Concert presented on Saturday 1st March in the Hayward Theatre by the King’s School Ely. The programme was carefully chosen and included works by Handel, Hummel, Kabalevsky, Bach, and Dvorak.
An assured and spirited performance of Handel’s ‘Coronation Anthem no 3 ‘The King Shall Rejoice’ was followed by two concerto movements. Hummel’s ‘Trumpet Concerto’ Wo O 1, S.49 (first movement) was played by Isaac Bateman and Kabalevsky’s ‘Violin Concerto’ op.48 (first movement) was played by Yuki Kimura. The two soloists were, indeed, highly competent. Yuki , in particular, demonstrated that special musical awareness and talent that brings the music alive. She lived and breathed every note. We have probably witnessed the start of a highly successful musical career for this talented student. Other notable performers included soprano Emma Jones and there were many moments of beauty produced by the remaining performers, for example, the flautists in the final orchestral work.
Bach’s ‘Cantata no. 150 ‘Nach dir Herr, verlanget mich’ BWV150 (1,2,3,4,7) featured a select number of some of the school’s finest singers and instrumentalists with the Director of Music, Dr Martin Leigh at the ‘harpsichord’. At the end of the concert, he conducted a grand performance of the large school orchestra which played of Dvorak’s ‘Symphony no. 8 in G major op. 88 (first movement) and his astute conducting produced a cohesive and worthy performance.
Future events at the Kings School Ely include:
Monday 3rd March ‘A’ Level Students’ Concert in the Recital Hall, 5 pm
Tuesday 4th to Thursday 6th March National Theatre Connections Play Hayward Theatre, 730 pm
Friday 7th March King’s Ely Concert Society Darren Jeffrey (Bass-Baritone) Hayward Theatre, 730pm
Saturday 8th March Darren Jeffrey master class, Recital Hall, 9 am
Thursday 13th March Lunchtime Live Concert, Recital Hall 1.20 – 1-50 pm
Thursday 13th March, Chapel Choir sings Evensong, Jesus College Cambridge
Thursday 25th March, Hayward Theatre, GCSE Drama and Dance Showcase, 730 pm.
For more information contact: Sophie Collier, Performing Arts Administrator (01353) 653931 email: