A review of ‘Island and Hereward’ at Ely Cathedral on Saturday 21st March 2015.

Ely Cathedral buzzed with excitement as the stage packed with singers in preparation for a grand concert. They were accompanied by one of Ely’s finest orchestras: Ely Sinfonia and conducted by the renowned Steve Bingham. Together, they gave a first performance of two new works: ‘Hereward’ by Richard Brown and ‘Island’ by Jeremy Harmer and Phil Toms.
When the programme announces a newly composed work is to be presented, I am usually very wary – some modern compositions can be fresh exciting and meaningful while others –
However, tonight proved to be a delightful evening and both compositions were splendid with many grand moments or moments that were evocative, thrilling or just jolly. The vocal lines were clear and succinct, the orchestration skilfully and expressively designed.
The best moments for me in the first composition, Hereward, were in the second movement, ‘Battle’. I would have loved to have been up there on the stage with the performers, stamping my feet to the marching warriors. The first movement evoked the mysteriousness of the Fens perfectly while the third movement was soothing and the final movement was a joyful and tuneful final ‘Celebration’.
This work was commissioned by The High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Linda Fairbrother, and if you are interested in performing it, you should contact Cambridge Music or Linda on linda@googlemail.com It comes highly recommended.
The second piece was an enchanting story narrated by Jeremy Harmer who composed the work with Phil Toms. Singers included Ely Imps, massed children’s voices from local primary schools, in Voco Parentis from King’s College Cambridge and the Colchester Institute Cantores Chamber Choir. The quality of performance was amazing considering the numbers involved. The soloists were excellent and featured Jack Grinstead, Lucy Pearce, Robin Horgan, Mark Hounsell,, Jan Moore and Rebecca Duckworth.
This was indeed a special community event that gave much joy to performers and audience.
Ely Sinfonia’s next event will be on the 5th of April when Ely Sinfonia will play Mozart’s Coronation Mass for the Cathedral’s Easter Mass. and a major concert to book early for will be their ‘Eroica, Music from the Romantic Era’ on 9th May at Ely Cathedral contact:
Ely Cathedral Box Office tel: 01353 660349 email: box.office@cathedral.ely .anglican.co.uk
Ely Sinfonia enquiries: 07889157222/01353721007 email publicity@elysinfonia.co.uk


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