Review of Ely Sinfonia’s ‘Something Old, Some thing, Something Borrowed, Something Blue’ in Ely Cathedral on Friday 19th June 2015

Steve and Jenny BinghamWow! What a concert.

When the orchestral members left the stage mid performance at the end of the first piece, it was a little concerning. However, one glance at the programme was reassuring – it was Haydn’s ‘Farewell Symphony’ in which the musicians are instructed to leave to stage so that Haydn’s patron at the time would take the hint and let his musicians go home after an extended holiday.

Strongly led by conductor Steve Bingham, the orchestra revelled in its now powerful sound.  The instrumentalists were confident, expressive and very much a part of the exhilarating atmosphere that pervaded the concert.

The mixture of such varied items provided a fascinating programme.  The more traditional works: Haydn’s ‘Farewell Symphony’, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘English Folk Suite’ (arranged by Gordon Jacob) were very effective.  In the Haydn, his humour and cheerfulness were evident. The melodies sang, the orchestra ‘danced’ and even the short accompanying notes became expressive under Steve’s influence.   The jolly character of the folk tunes in Vaughan Williams’ composition was beautifully captured.

The highlight for the evening was ‘Après Moi’ by Regina Spektor and arranged by Rowan Marshall. Soloist, Jenny Bingham (Steve’s daughter) came into her own in this amazing performance.  Her vocal potency, tonal variety, and wide – ranging expression from unrestrained attack to gentle sweetness caught exactly the passions within this unusual piece. It did not matter that the words were enigmatic; we understood and shared the emotions they engendered.  It was no wonder that the audience clamoured for this as an encore.

Other works we enjoyed included Purcell’s aria ‘When I am Laid in Earth’ from Dido and Aeneas, ‘The unanswered question’ by Charles Ives, ‘Lacrymosa’ – an arrangement by Rowan Marshall (and the band Evanescence) of Mozart’s composition of the same name, ‘Feelin’ Good’ by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse also arranged by Rowan Marshall and the final toe-tapping Birdland by Zoe Zawinul  – also touched by Rowan Marshall’s  very musical hand.

This exciting  concert was a family affair because not only was Steve Bingham master of operations, his talented daughter, Jenny was the star soloist and his wife/her mother was to be found sounding the bells in the percussion section.  Their musical talent was enhanced by  a wonderful collection of other talented performers: orchestra, arranger/keyboardist Rowan Marshall and an impressive choir led by Jan Moore singing Mozart’s ‘Lacrymosa’ during the intriguing arrangement of this work.

This was indeed one of the most uplifting concerts in recent events.  Long may it continue.

Ely Sinfonia’s next event will be on Saturday 24th October at Ely Cathedral at 730 pm when they will be performing ‘Carmina Burana’. tickets: Ely Cathedral Box Office: tel: (01353) 660349 email: box.office@elycathedral.org.

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