Posts Tagged ‘Edmund Aldhouse’

Review of Edmund Aldhouse accompanying the silent movie in Ely Cathedral on Friday 23rd October 2015

October 27, 2015

On entering Ely Cathedral for my first silent movie in that magnificent building, the atmosphere was both warm and inviting. I was certainly looking forward to a grand night at the movies, with musical genius, Edmund Aldhouse, accompanying on that splendid Ely Cathedral organ.

I was not disappointed. For seventy minutes we were held spellbound, roaring with laughter at Buster Keaton’s antics in the film ‘Steamboat Bill Jnr.’, while Edmund’s playing rose and fell with the emotions and drama of the typical plot: gauche young boy, son of a poor steamboat owner falls in love with wealthy ship magnet’s daughter. All seems impossible for their love to blossom, but after a run of dramatic disasters and accidents waiting to happen, and then happening even more ingeniously than expected, they all live happily ever after.

None of the drama, excitement and humour would have been possible without Edmund’s contribution. While he cleverly wove his own continuous texture with carefully designed motifs for the different characters, he also read our minds and as we witnessed various typical scenes, strains of music that we might have imagined ourselves drifted into the cathedral. There was the lad asleep in his bed in the morning, when I could have sworn we heard excerpts of Grieg’s composition of the same name. One of the most delightful take-offs was when Buster Keaton was battling with an umbrella in the rainstorm to strains  of ‘Singing in the Rain’ woven  seamlessly in the stream of Edmund’s performance. Other gems we thought we discerned were Grieg’s Piano Concerto, the Skye boat song and Don Quixote and I am sure these are only a few of them.

This was a splendid idea for a different kind of organ recital and we were told this is just one of a series planned in the near future. I can’t wait to hear what is coming next.

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December 8, 2013

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.

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Review of ‘Winter Wonderland’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 7th December 2013

December 7, 2013

Ely Cathedral is the ideal venue for a ‘Winter Wonderland’ and the large appreciative audience was given a feast of music in the concert so named.

With the Director of Music of Ely Cathedral at the helm, we were bound to have a good time and indeed, we did. There was never a dull moment. Looking at the programme, we could see a lot of ‘old favourites’ but with nearly every performance, there was some kind of surprise awaiting us.

Ely Cathedral Choir was glorious as usual, and their unaccompanied songs were of the highest quality and included special versions of ‘Follow that Star’, ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Chestnuts Roasting’, ‘Mary’s Boychild’ and ‘Just Another Star’. ‘We need a little Christmas’ with piano accompaniment by Edmund Aldhouse was splendid.

Ely Imps and the choristers produced a beautiful sound when it was their turn and they featured in some very agreeable arrangements with the remainder of Ely Cathedral Choir and with the Band in ‘Mary’s Child’, ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, ‘Angel told you to go’, ‘Away in a Manger’, ‘Coconut Carol’, and ‘Good King Wences-ska’. The alteration of the last familiar carol’s title is an indication of what happened frequently in this entertaining event. Familiar carols were given a make-over by local composer, band leader, keyboard player, Pat Brandon. He and his jazz band provided many interesting moments. The other band members were Paul Stubbs (trumpet and fluegelhorn), David Franklin (saxophones: soprano, tenor and baritone), Ivan Garford (double bass) and Derek Scurll (drums).

As we all joined in with ‘I’m dreaming of a White Christmas’, the ‘snow’ began to fall from up high in the octagon and the concert was brought to a fitting, seasonal close.   

The proceeds of the concert will benefit Ely Cathedral and Maggie’s Wallace. Maggie’s Wallace is a charity that supports people with cancer as described in a moving speech by a representative Alyson Luff immediately after interval.

Contacts for further information:

Maggie’s Wallace tel: 01223 249220

Ely Cathedral Choir tel: 01353 660336 or

Ely Imps tel: 01353 664470

Review of Ely Consort’s ‘Music for Anniversaries and Advent’ in St. Andrew’s Church, Soham on Saturday 30th November 2013

November 30, 2013

Matthew Rudd (Director), Ely Consort and Edmund Aldhouse (organist) presented a magnificent concert on Saturday. The programme was packed with appropriate works for the season. Usually, the word ‘challenging’ denotes pieces that are too difficult for the performers, but on this occasion, the challenging works chosen for the first half of the programme were beautifully handled by these fine musicians.

Choir, conductor and organist were of one mind and throughout the evening their music was exquisitely shaped, the parts clear and well-balanced, the tonal quality first-rate, the dynamics (louds and softs) effective, and rests and detached notes wonderfully controlled. The vocal technique of these fine singers was constantly apparent.

The first pieces were highly appropriate: works by Britten (for his 100th anniversary) ‘Hymn to St. Cecilia’ (choir) and ‘Prelude and Fugue on a theme of Vittoria (organ). ‘Andreas Christi famulus’ by Crecquillon marked St. Andrew’s Day. Works by Howells included ‘Sarabande in modo elegiac’ (organ) and ‘Take him, earth, for cherishing’ (choir).  Of this first group of pieces, the highlight for me was the very moving ‘Take him, earth, for cherishing’ commissioned for the memorial service for President Kennedy after his untimely and sudden death. The words were keenly expressed with moments of great anguish and agitation contrasted by very moving episodes of prayerful application.

It was in the second part of the programme that the choir really let its hair down and we revelled in more traditional favourites. These were very musically and movingly expressed beginning with a wonderful rendition of ‘O come, O come Immanuel’ arranged by John Rutter. Other delights featured work by Michael Praetorius, Stanley Vann, Carter, Mendelssohn, Bach, Vaughan Williams and Poulenc. One notable extra was a moving composition by Edward Skelton (previously a key member of the choir).

Edmund Aldhouse supported the singers admirably as well as performing a number of solo items that balanced the programme well. The one that appealed to me most was ‘Toccata on Veni Emmanuel’ by Andrew Carter.  Edmund let rip on the new organ in St. Andrew’s Church and performed this rousing work with a real sense of drama and panache.

Overall, this was indeed a magical evening of high quality music and the encore, ‘Nova, Nova’ by Bob Chilcott ended to evening perfectly.

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Rosemary Westwell