Archive for July, 2014

Natalia Williams-Wandoch’s piano recital for Chatteris Music Society at the church of St.Peter and St. Paul, Chatteris on Saturday 26th July 2014

July 27, 2014

In a bid to encourage more interest in the arts in the Chatteris area, Chatteris Music Society organized a highly successful piano recital in St. Peters’ and St. Paul’s Church on Saturday.
The concert featured Polish/British pianist Natalia Williams-Wandoch, who played a programme packed with works by two very different composers: Brahms and Gershwin. She also performed ‘Combination Rag’ by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin and the three movements of Debussy’s ‘Estampes’.
Natalia is a highly talented and successful pianist and it is no surprise that she has won numerous competitions and is a member of staff at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music in London. She will also be joining the staff at the King’s School Ely in September. She has a phenomenal technique and in this concert, she caught the idiosyncrasies of the composers perfectly. The powerful full chords of Brahms, the exquisite underlying tension of Gershwin’s off-beat rhythms and Debussy’s fluid harmonies and charismatic melodies were captured beautifully by her in the cool interior of this enchanting church. In ‘Combination Rag’ Natalia showed she fully understood the workings of the composition as she kept its catchy melody constantly in our minds in her thoughtful performance.
The next concert organized by the Chatteris Music Society will be on Saturday 15th November 7.30 pm in at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church Chatteris, featuring the Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra. For tickets call 01354669104/692009.
To join Chatteris Music Society send details of you name address, phone number and email with a cheque addressed to ‘Chatteris Music Society’ to Mrs. Joan Deller, 11 Windsor Close, Chatteris PE16 6DH. Membership fees are: single £7.50, couple £10.00, children and students under 16 are free.


review of Rave in the Nave in Ely Cathedral 11th July 2014

July 13, 2014
Doody the fire juggler

Doody the fire juggler

Rave in the Nave 14 the labyrinth Y

nailing the cross

nailing the cross

Now in my late sixties, I cannot hope to know what it is to be a teenager today, but I can easily empathize with the youngsters as I recall my own days of insecurity and uncertainty at that age.

It was my Birthday and I had nothing special planned, so I thought what better way to spend the evening than by going to the ‘Rave in the Nave’ at Ely Cathedral?  Expecting the centre of the Cathedral to be chock- a- block with heaving bodies, twisting and writhing to ear-blasting bands, I put on my dancing flatties, grabbed my earplugs and set out for an evening with a difference.

It was nothing like I expected. Yes, there was loud music, but the teenagers were not the mindless, body-conscious minions I expected. While there were groups of them ‘hanging about’ as teenagers do, there was none of the one-upmanship, self-conscious introversion, glances over the shoulder to see who was looking to impress. None of them seemed to be seeking a model to copy, to help them shape themselves into the ‘cool’ successful adult they hoped to mimic and become. They were simply themselves, something that I decided was much more courageous and impressive than any of the images we are bombarded with daily by the media. Few had heads bent, fingers flying over phones – none of the stereotype we associate with teenagers was apparent. They were talking, playing games and entering in the spirit of the event with disarming natural charm.

The success of the evening came not only from the music in the nave and the Lady Chapel, but from the numerous activities spread out in the building that engaged us in reflecting about our lives. I am one of those people who is embarrassed by overt expressions of religion, so, on a personal level, I could not relate to banners that declared ‘Jesus lives’, ‘He is my Light’ or ‘Burst Forth in Glorious Day’. However, from the age of sixteen I have often asked just ‘What is this God that people keep talking about?’ and even now conceive that this is a fundamental question that cannot be fully answered, for no one really knows or can claim to know.  It was at this event that I realized this was the whole point of the exercise. Our lives can be enhanced by having faith in the existence of supportive, positive influences, whichever form they take. When I finally completed  walking round the labyrinth and came to the last staging point, I contemplated the definitions offered d and stuck my star on the statement that most closely represented what I thought God could be – love. But then we are led to ask – ‘What is love?’ – but this is for another occasion for the purpose of this article is to tell you what happened. To give you some of the facts: there were a large number of organizations represented, some of those that impressed me were:

Cambridge Youthwork Collective, next meeting from 9000 – 1230 Tuesday 23rd September; ‘Rebuild’ offering a life-changing overseas experience brining hope to families trapped by poverty.;; Traidcraft that fights poverty through trade; Christian Aid; Limitless Community community; Amnesty International Ely City Group; The Salvation Army ‘Essential’; Juggling firesticks, walking on stilts with email:; Christian Motocyclists; The Mother’s Union;; Ely Food Bank amongst numerous others.

What impressed me particularly was the video display prepared by a Youth Worker trainee at Ely Cathedral in which famous people like Steven Spielberg and Einstein were described as early failures who had risen to great heights – there is always hope.

After a free cup of coffee and a chat, I entered into the fray. As I hammered my negative thoughts onto the cross I felt elated and delighted that there were no prohibitive Health and Safety eccentrics telling me I couldn’t have a hammer because I might hurt myself. It was an exhilarating experience to be able to express my thoughts without fear of ridicule or derision and by the proliferation of others’ thoughts and expressions I was not alone in this.

So, if you’ve never been to a ‘Rave in the Nave’ before, no matter what age you are, you should give it a try.







Review of a performance of the Berlioz Requiem in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 5th July 2014 by Cambridge and Norwich Philharmonic choirs and Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra

July 7, 2014

Cambridge and Norwich Philharmonic choirs and Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra filled Ely Cathedral with tremendous sounds in their performance of the Berlioz Requiem last Saturday.
This huge choir and orchestra, under the baton of Timothy Redmond, performed as one, giving every grand gesture or moment of reflection real value. The vocal articulation, gradations of volume and changes of tempi were particularly well mastered. The instrumentalists, led by the well-renowned Steve Bingham, gave great depth, colour and drama to the text. Wonderful moments ranged from the fantastic entrance of the brass ensembles that surrounded the audience in the ‘Dies Irae’ to moments that featured sinister murmurings from rumbling timpani, the warm of the strings or the ominous depths of the lowest bass instruments.
One of the highlights was undoubtedly the’ Sanctus’ in which the tenor, Bonaventura Bottone, filled the Cathedral with his strong rich expressive tones, supported by moments of exquisite choral expression and control, especially in the fugue.
The first movement, the ‘Requiem and Kyrie’, opened the performance beautifully, choir and orchestra engaging the emotional richness of Berlioz’s palette immediately. The third movement provided a moving contrast to the powerful ‘Dies Irae’ while the fourth movement, ‘Rex tremendae’, used this magnificent Cathedral to full effect, the variations in timbre, texture and time fully explored. The unaccompanied voices in ‘Quaerens me’ provided a calm respite, and the ‘Lacrymosa’ contained unsettling episodes of restlessness as planned, while the ‘Offertorium’ demonstrated the real skill of these musicians, for even though a key phrase was continually repeated, it was performed with such variety of expression and texture that the momentum of this haunting movement was constantly maintained. The extremes of range in the instruments provided contrast to the rich men’s voices in ‘Hostias’ and the whole work came to a fitting resolution with a sense of overall peace in the final ‘Agnus Dei’.
I was not surprised to learn from well-known music critic, James Day, that he had heard this work performed live four times and that this performance was the best. This was indeed a magnificent concert.
Cambridge Philharmonic next performance will be of Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ at St. John’s College Cambridge on Saturday 18th October 2014.

Review of Viva Theatre Company’s production of the play ‘Pride and Prejudice’ on Friday night, 27th June 2014, in St. Andrew’s Church Soham

July 1, 2014

Image‘Pride and Prejudice’ is acknowledged as one of the best books in English literature. Jane Austen’s characters come to life in the pages and their words are often at length, but witty and revealing. With her writing there is a constant underlying feeling that she is commenting on the strange idiosyncrasies, prejudices and injustices of her society. How can this be translated into a one-evening play? I thought it impossible and was expecting a play that simply told the story. How wrong I was! It was not only the cleverly devised script by Simon Reade that brought Jane Austen’s words and plot alive, it was the splendid performances of the actors. Their personas were undeniable, their style of speaking, their gestures and the subtleties of facial expressions brought forth the emotions Jane’s work intended.Image

Jenny Surridge gave us the Elizabeth we had always imagined. Elizabeth’s intelligent mind was very much in evidence, as was her rebellious streak, and the affection she and her father had for each other in spite of the nervy exuberance and ignorance of her mother (admirably played by Mary Barnes). Rowan Maulder was every bit the handsome, principled ‘dark horse’ we expected in Fitzwilliam Darcy while David Tickner was indeed a long-suffering and wise Mr Bennet . James Palmer (as Charles Bingley) and Alison Palmer (as Jane Bennet) made the perfect couple, while the flighty Lydia (wonderfully portrayed by Kerry Hibbert) was teamed up well with the dashing Joshua Schumann as George Wickham. Tim Alban Jones, the current vicar of St. Andrews Church no doubt had his congregation a little concerned should he revert to character at a later date, for he played the most insufferable snob, Mr. Collins, superbly. Kate Weekes was an excellent Charlotte Lucas – wife of Mr Collins accepting her unorthodox marriage with disarming fortitude. 

The array of superb actors does not stop there. Kirsten Martin as the acerbic Caroline Bingley developed a voice filled with guile and self importance that is not easy to forget.  The snobbery of Lady Catherine de Bourgh (played by Janis Harrison) was never in any doubt while a host of other excellent performances added to this amazing entertainment: Zara Minns (Kitty Bennet), Laura Davis (Mary Bennet), David Moat (Sir William Lucas), Tracey Summers (Mrs. Gardiner), David Blythe (Mr Reynolds/Meryton Gentleman), Delia Tickner (Lady Lucas), Scott Robertson (Mr Denny/Imaginery Son), Lloyd Popp – Captain Carter, Leader of the Militia, Joe Turner (Mr Chamberlayne, Militia), Radha Cardwell (Mrs. Long), Maureen Hardingham (Mrs. Jenkinson) and  Elisha Cardwell (Miss Long).

Staging was simple and effective, the music charming and authentic, the costumes delightful, – in fact this whole production was fantastic! Congratulations must go to Directors Sarah Dowd-Crosby and Emma Moat, Musical Director Tim Alban-Jones, Dancing Instructor Louise Plummer and their industrious crew and supporters.

The next show to look forward to is ‘Acorn Antiques’ the Musical, Thurs 6th– Sat 8th November 2014 at the Brook, Soham

Tel (01353) 722228 email:

Review of the Lantern Dance Theatre Company performing the Fenland Suite an integrated dance performance at the Paradise Centre on Sunday 29th June 2014

July 1, 2014

ImageLantern Dance Theatre Company entertained a supportive audience in the Paradise Centre on Sunday with a wonderful performance of ‘Fenland Suite’. The group is an integrated contemporary dance company in which young people with and without disabilities train and perform on equal terms. There are about 20 members of which about half have a disability. With the help of Stopgap Dance Company, which ran a two-day workshop before the event, the standard reached was amazing.

The progamme included items called ‘Enigma’, ‘Aqua and Terra’, ‘Clear Space’, ‘Cocoon’ and ‘Weaving’ which all gave us a strong sense of the Fens landscape and history. ‘Clear Space’ was performed for the first time at this event and captured the architecture and atmosphere of Ely Cathedral well.  In ‘Enigma’ the dancers interacted cleverly designed reeds, creating moments of  mystery or militarism and leading to some highly credible watery effects. The natural flow of the choreography of ‘Aqua and Terra’ was especially impressive, while the huddle of bodies in ‘Cocoon’ was effective too. In ‘Weaving’ the choreography again was particularly well designed and one had the feeling that the movement and machinery involved in weaving was ever-present, while at the same time within the setting there was much variety that never detracted from a sense of continuity of the craft over the centuries.

The readings by Mike Rouse interspersed between the works and the atmospheric music helped to create moments of evocative intrigue about the Fens.  

Many locals will be impressed to know that Marcus Barcham-Stevens was commissioned to write the music for ‘Weaving’ and he led the Chroma Ensemble, the group that performed this potent piece.

The dancers and the staff who trained them are to be congratulated for such a fine performance. Credit should also be given to Helen Pettit’s, Jonathan Rogers’ (Producer) and their team of supporters.

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