Posts Tagged ‘King’s School Ely’

Review of The King’s School’s production of ‘Les Misérables’ in the Hayward Theatre on Thursday 8th December 2016

December 11, 2016

The King’s School’s production of ‘Les Misérables’ in the Hayward Theatre on Thursday was phenomenal. The young cast acted and sang with skill, the turmoil of their characters readily identifiable and the themes of injustice, tragedy, revenge, forgiveness and redemption evolved most effectively with the students’ strong well-focused voices and excellent diction and their highly believable acting.

Directed by Nick Huntingdon with music provided by Jonathan King and his team, this show held the packed audience spellbound as the dramatic and emotional events developed. We were immediately caught up in the anguish of escaped convict Jean Valjean (played by Oliver Wilkinson) who constantly sought justice and care for beautiful Cosette (Indea Cranner) while on the run from an unjust law and heartless Javert (played by Sebastian Carberry). Thénardier (Mark Spofforth) and Madame Thénardier (Emmanuelle Yembe) stole the show with when their macabre comic antics were on stage. Other notable characters were the keen lover Marius (Jean-Paul Gilbey), heart-broken Epinone (Eloise George), sadly-fated Fantine (Elizaveta Denisova) heroic Enjolras (Samuel Black) and the calmly-spoken Bishop (Orlando Squires). Orlando’s singing was especially impressive. The actresses playing young Epinone (Emma Farmer) and young Cosette (Tia Glenister) were also impressive performers.

Stage movements were carefully designed and the crowds of bawdy prostitutes, drunk inn-dwellers, women and rebels were highly entertaining enhancing the atmosphere wonderfully.

An inspired revolving staging easily turned into a battlefield, inn or romantic setting for lovers.

This was indeed an impressive production and it was no surprise there was a standing ovation at the end.

For more information about King’s School productions contact (Cats) and (DNA).


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:

Review: ‘Brass Diversions’ at the Hayward Theatre, Ely, Friday 17th January 2014

January 19, 2014


When Tom Poulson (trumpet) and Christopher Baxter (piano) walked on stage I was ready to listen to a traditional concert of pieces for trumpet and piano. I was not disappointed and enjoyed their highly competent playing in the first half of the concert. I was lulled into a comfortable sense of security as they explained the background to the pieces and I thoroughly enjoyed the drama in Mozart’s ‘Queen of the Night’s Revenge’,   the precision of Bach’s ‘Concerto in D major’ BWV 972, the range of emotions in Enescu’s ‘Légende’,  the beautiful liquid chords in Moeren’s ‘Stahlam River’ and the emotional pull of the elongated climaxes of the first movement of Peskin’s ‘Concerto in C minor’.

The first piece in the second half of the programme was another very nicely played traditional trumpet and piano piece ‘Intrada’ by Honegger.

I noted with interest that we were then moving towards more modern, contemporary composers so steeled myself to concentrate on complicated, almost unfathomable depths of intricate composition.

My expectations were very much misplaced. The compositions these two excellent performers presented were music of quality but also music that was highly entertaining. Tom’s performance of ‘Scherzando and Waltz and Fanfare from Solus’ by Friedman had us giggling in sympathy as this challenging piece let us know exactly what it is like when a trumpeter loses the plot, makes mistakes and gets to such a pitch that in mid flow he is liable to throw a tantrum throwing his music stand to the floor. It is so difficult for an accomplished performer like this to deliberately play out of tune or to consciously make glaring mistakes.

Then Chris played a hypnotising piece: ‘China Gates’ by John Adams. The subtle changes in the constant flow of this bell-like repetitive music were tantalising.

The next piece, ‘The Reform of Rank Bajiin’ by John Maxwell Geddes was another highly amusing piece of theatre. This time in the form of ‘a Glaswegian Western’ in which ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ was given a completely new dimension as the Tom strode onto the stage wearing bandit’s mask and played his trumpet with amazing effects, including with whinnying horses and vocal interruptions.

An amazing percussive piece was next: ‘Clapping Music’ by Steve Reich and we were fascinated as these two musical magicians clapped a fascinating pattern that shifted constantly in only one of the part.

We came down to earth in the final two pieces of the concert with a sonorous rendition of the spiritual ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless Child’ and an air and variations on the traditionally popular ‘Silver Thread among the Gold’ by Stanley Boddington (who, as a matter of interest used to teach brass at the King’s School Ely in the ‘60s and ‘70s).

The encore ‘Tis the Last Rose of Summer’ was a fitting ending to a perfect evening.

The next King’s School Concert Society concert will feature Darren Jeffrey (Bass-Baritone) and Anthony Seddon (piano) on Friday 7th March.

For more information contact Sophie Collier (01353 653931) email:


Review of The King’s School Ely’s Charity Concert on Friday 15th November in the Hayward Theatre

November 17, 2013

The King’s School Ely’s Charity Concert on Friday 15th November in the Hayward Theatre was another crowning success for this excellent school. The Hayward Theatre was packed with performers and tickets were soon sold out.

The programme featured many of their well-known performers: the Concert Band, a Percussion Ensemble, the Minstrels, Brass Ensembles, the King’s Barbers, the Jazz Band, Spikes Cello group and King’s Ely Orchestra.

The larger groups provided some real highlights: the Concert Band, the Jazz Band, and the King’s School Ely Orchestra. The King’s Barbers (directed by Peter North) also gave an outstanding performance.

The Concert Band opened the concert and as the first notes were struck the wow factor was immediately apparent. The Director, Michel Sedgwick, really knows how to inspire his students to engage effectively with powerful and exciting rhythms. ‘All the Best’ by Otto M. Schwartz was played with precision and musicality, and the empathy between the sections was particularly noticeable.  Dave Brubeck’s fascinating rhythms were brought alive in ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk ‘arranged by Stephen Schwalgin while ‘Tom Jones in Concert’ led us through a delightful medley of his well-known songs which were played with the same suave sensuality that we associate with the singer.

Julian Landymore, another vital director, this time of the Jazz Band, moulded the group into an amazingly cohesive phenomenon that gelled perfectly the easy smooth sounds and ‘natural’ off beat rhythms.   The pieces were well chosen: Duke Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’ arranged by Bob Lowden, ‘Just Before Midnight’ by Howard Rowe, and ‘Cosy Toes’ by Lenny Niehaus.

The King’s School Ely orchestra, conducted by Martin Leigh, gave one of the best performances I have heard this orchestra give. The first movement of Beethoven’s first symphony was a classic choice and performance in all sense of the word, with the orchestra reaching a much higher standard than expected of any ‘school’ orchestra.

The remaining items were also delightful and helped to make this concert yet another highly successful event at the beginning of the school year.

The two charities the school is supporting, The Old Dispensary in Ely and Food Bank were able to express their thanks with short speeches by representatives of these organizations at the end of the concert.

Future events by the King’s School:

Thursday 21 November 1310 Ely Cathedral lunchtime Live Concert

Friday 22 November 1730 Ely Cathedral King’s Ely Chapel Choir sings Evensong

Tuesday 26 November 1400 Recital Hall Trumpet masterclass Paul Archibald

Friday 29 November 1930 Recital Hall King’s Ely Concert Society Anthony Brown and Leo Nicholson (saxophone and piano)

Wednesday 4 December – Saturday 7 December 1930 Hayward Theatre Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Friday 13 December 1100 Ely Cathedral King’s Ely Carol Service

For more information contact: Lisa Bushell (01353 653931 email:


Review of Daniela Rossi (classical guitar) at the Hayward Theatre Friday 30th November 12

December 3, 2012

Classical music is not always readily associated with the guitar, but in the hands of Daniela Rossi, the instrument was proved to be ideal for conveying the most subtle of expression in the pieces she chose. Her concert in the Hayward Theatre as part of the King’s School Concert Series included pieces of different styles and from different periods and cultures.

The programme opened with Lachrimae Pavan by the English composer Dowland. It was immediately apparent that this performer had great strength of purpose that came from an internal, intuitive understanding of how the most subtle of expressions could be effectively portrayed.

In the second pie, Fantasie, op. 19 by the Italian Luigi Legnani, she demonstrated an ability to sooth the strings into merging rapid runs into a continuous flow, making them contrast well with her emphatic, strong and precise chords.

Three of the Five pieces for Guitar by the Argentinian, Astor Piazzolla, suited Daniela’s playing particularly well, reminding us of her Argentinian origins. In the first piece, Campero, her tonal variety was phenomenal, in the second Romántico she held together the sweeping strands beautifully while in the third, Acentuado, she kept the audience spellbound with her skill as a performer.

After interval, in D’Angelo’s Due Canzioni Lidie she created some particularly evocative sonorous effects in the first song and more agitated episodes in the second.

The evening culminated with Sonata para Guitarra by Antonio José from Spain. During these four movements she created amazing effects ranging from harp-like chordal progressions in the Allegro, very varied tonal levels in the Minuetto andtense insistence in the Pavana Triste to a final joyful celebration in the final movement (Finale).

This was a highly successful concert and the sizeable audience soon let the performer know how much they enjoyed the event and her two encores were enthusiastically received.

The next concert will be Trio Petrus (violin, ‘cello and piano) on Friday 18th January 7.30 pm in the Recital Hall contact Lisa Bushell (01353 653931) email:

Rosemary Westwell

Review Prime Brass Concert Friday 9th March 2012 in the Hayward Theatre Ely

March 13, 2012

Prime Brass is indeed a prime group of performers. This brass quintet gave a splendid performance at their concert last Friday providing a first class addition to the King’s School Ely Concert Series. Michel Sedgwick (trumpet), Paul Garner (trumpet), Guy Llewellyn (french horn), Sarah Minchin (trombone) and Alan Sugars (tuba) made a formidable ensemble – nothing was left to chance, they gelled superbly no matter how tricky or rapid the music. Maurice Hodges (piano) accompanied their solo performances with noticeable empathy, mastered the varied styles and demands superbly.

A wide selection of music was included in the programme with many popular works arranged suitably for these instruments. Nothing was lost in the transcriptions, these musicians knew how to bring out the best of these pieces.

From the first bars of the opening Domine Ad Adjuvandum by Monteverdi arranged by Ivo Preis, it was obvious that this was no ‘ordinary’ ensemble. The control, the precision and the subtlety of expression managed by this group brought the music alive.

Of the suite of pieces from the music of Purcell, the most appealing items for me were the Intrada containing that famous tune Britten chose for his work ‘A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ and Dido’s Lament- a seemingly simple piece that contains a repeated melody in the bass over which lie the haunting pleas of ‘Remember me’ by Dido. The flugelhorn proved a splendid representation of the voice on this occasion and brought considerable emotion to the line.  The Tuba Tune and Trumpet Tune followed the Lament and we were lulled into a comfortable sense of delight and security.

However, this sense of ease was short-lived. Suddenly we were encouraged to listen intently, to think and to marvel at the more challenging material in The Night Trumpeter by McDowall played by Michel. In the second movement of this piece, especially, Michel’s description of the programme of the music was particularly helpful. We could indeed hear the snatched pieces of conversation within the walls that the composer tried to emulate.

A change of colour followed with Guy playing Forêt by Bozza which again challenged the listeners with the open chords and effects in the piano and the hunting horn and echoes that were regularly featured.

The first half of the concert ended splendidly with The Adiemus Collection by Jenkins arranged by Tony Small. The familiar theme from the Benedictus of the Armed Man mesmerized the listeners. The following lively dance-like Cu’Chullain with its rapid notes and riotous rhythms was a very effective contrast.

After interval, the Hayward Theatre became a centre of fun. Performers and audience let their hair down and the instrumentalists’ sheer joy of performing and their phenomenal skill helped the listeners relax and enjoy the lively humour that pervaded a number of the pieces in this section.

Each piece was a delight: The operatic excesses of La Rose Nuptiale by Lavallé arranged by Howard Cable, the sliding gymnastics of The Acrobat by Greenwood played by Sara on trombone, Paul’s gorgeous flugelhorn in Send in the Clowns by Sondheim, the virtuosic tuba in Tuba Tiger Rag by De Costa arranged by Luther Hendersson and the three jolly pieces in the Music Hall Suite by Horovitz: Trick Cyclists, Soft Shoe Shuffle and Les Girls.  The rhythmical genius of this ensemble was made particularly apparent when the audience failed to keep to the performers’ precision when it was their turn.

It is no wonder that an encore was demanded from these amazing performers and that they are in demand – performing in King’s College Chapel the following evening.

The next King’s Ely Concert Society event will be on Friday 11th May in the Recital Hall featuring Nicky Spencer (tenor) and Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano).

Rosemary Westwell

An interview with local artist Stuart Green before the exhibition at King’s College (4th to 17th March 2012)

March 2, 2012

What inspired your exhibition (4th to 17th March)?

We were all formerly art teachers at the King’s School Ely. After leaving the school we found that we were free to focus on our individual artistic preferences and this inspired us to produce a combined exhibition.

Who are the four artists involved and what are their particular artistic concerns?

The four artists are 

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and myself, Stuart Green.

Terry is concerned with creating a sense of depth and form through the use of colour and colour relationships. An integral part of her work is that it is non-representational in a direct sense, leaving the interpretation of the work up to the viewer. Some of her work is made as a direct response to observed elements in the world around her, while her use of colour has been informed to some extent by a childhood spent in Africa. She uses various media to achieve her aims, including acrylics, mono-printing and collage. She has exhibited widely and has work in numerous private and corporate collections.

Natalie approaches insects with a scientific eye and draws every detail with meticulous accuracy. She says that her work ‘is mainly concerned with the symbolic and aesthetic value of insects. They have limitless diversity in terms of their shape, colour and texture and when studying their physiognomy at close range, they can appear both monstrous and beautiful. To execute these meticulous studies I am employing the traditions of natural history illustration and the scientific depiction of insects. I am also interested in a wider range of zoological specimens and I am fascinated with the way in which museums classify and display their historical finds.’

Stephens’ work is concerned with the exploration of form and surface, which evolve through a gradual process of hand-building and refinement. Influences are diverse and come from the natural and built environment. The forms are mainly hand-built and altered by a range of techniques. This process creates significant marks and textures, which are enhanced and revealed by the subsequent use of glaze and oxides. His work is all Raku fired. Smoked and carbonated areas of the clay, resulting from the post-firing reduction, are left exposed to form a contrast with the glazed surfaces. Stephen’s ceramics have been exhibited widely and are held in many private and public collections. Corporate clients have included: Coopers and Lybrand, Lovells, the international law firm and The Royal Bank of Scotland, which are all based in London. He is the author of The Glaze Book, published by Thames and Hudson in 2002.

Since 1981, when I moved to Ely, I have exhibited all over East Anglia both in solo and group shows. I have also exhibited in Germany and have worked in private collections both in Europe and Australia. A teaching exchange in Australia dramatically changed my way of working. Seeing the world literally from many different perspectives encouraged new approaches and experimentation. By inclination I am a painter of landscape. At times I will record simply for the enjoyment of being in a particular place and at other times I will search more deeply for the marks that both man and nature have made. It is through this search that I find the colours, patterns, textures and forms that are the roots of my work.


Why have you chosen King’s College Arts Centre as your venue?

Natalie works in the Art Department at King’s College and consequently the opportunity arose for us to exhibit there.


Can you give us directions to the venue?

Once at Kings College Cambridge, follow directions to the Art Centre. Our exhibition may be found by following directions to ‘A’ Staircase, the Scott’s Building and the Front Court.


What is each artist’s specialty?

Steve is a ceramisist, Terry a painter/ textile/printer, Natalie’s specialty is in fine drawing and I am a painter.


Are there any themes in the exhibition?

Besides our connection with the King’s School Ely all four of us are concerned with texture, detail and surface and particular elements of these can be seen echoed throughout our work.


Are there any particularly unusual entries?

Everything is spectacular!


Can anyone attend the private viewing on 3rd March (6-8 p.m.)?

Yes, the exhibition is open to everybody.


Is there a charge for entry?

No, entry is free.

In what other activities are you all involved?

We will be taking part in other exhibitions in a variety of venues including London and Norfolk, and working on private commissions.


Is there anything else you would like to say?

We think that the exhibition is accessible to all and look forward to welcoming many visitors. One of the artists will be present every day.


How should we get in touch with you for more information?

Stuart Green 01353 661508 or email:


Thank you, Stuart, the exhibition looks most promising and will no doubt attract a wide audience.

Rosemary Westwell



review an Evening with Alexander McCall Smith

November 21, 2009

Not even the Queen’s arrival in Ely could faze this amazing writer. Topping and Company had originally planned to hold an evening with Alexander McCall Smith in the Cathedral for it was bound to be a sell out but plans had to be changed when it became known that the Queen was visiting Ely the next day.

Completely unabashed Alexander McCall Smith had the audience in stitches. The building works on the stage of the Hayward Theatre the King’s School had kindly offered became the latest of the artistic entries for the Turner prize, the police outside protecting such valuable works. The listeners knew all this was fallacy but with his unique light-hearted and guileless humour, this giant of a man poked gentle fun at the world and his characters in such a way that we knew he spoke profound truths while we laughed.

His list of books is phenomenal. Just to mention “44 Scotland Street”, “The World according to Bertie”, “The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and his Sunday Philosophy Series is enough to indicate what a household name he has become.

As he spoke, we were privileged to share this author’s preoccupation with his fictional characters and their lives. His antics with the Really Terrible Orchestra in which he plays ‘part’ of the bassoon (only up to high D) and his frank admissions of ignorance with regard to the way cars work were just two examples of his disarming honesty. Only he would ring up a certain psychiatrist to find out details of what can go wrong with cars before he wrote about it in one of his books.

His kindly relationship with his editors, publishers and readers and the pressures he is under to create certain types of events brought forth more hilarious discussion. He did not succumb directly to the call for a car chase – in his own inimitable way, he solved this problem by having a shopping trolley chase. The anomalies in his characters’ development – just how long, for example, should an apprenticeship last? – just how long can Bertie remain so young while all the characters around him grow old? It became clear that it simply did not matter, for such strong characterisation by this author meant that we readers, too, did not want Bertie or the apprentices to grow old or mature. With such strong writing, anything can be made to happen, and in the hands of Alexander McCall Smith, anything does happen. His highly fertile imagination swept us along in his wonderful, tender world of human beings of all different kinds and their respective dilemmas that we share.