Posts Tagged ‘Lady Chapel’

Review of Cambridge Chorale’s concert ‘A Sense of the Divine’ in the Lady Chapel Ely Cathedral on Saturday 2nd March 2019

March 3, 2019

The title of this concert was most fitting and the Lady Chapel was the perfect place for this marvellous choir to perform. Under the expert baton of Owain Park, the choir’s meticulous concern for clear, precise focus on the sheer beauty of sound created a concert of the purest quality. There are very few choral groups that can reach such perfection.

The varied programme included works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Henry Harris, Charles Villiers Stanford, Judith Weir, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Thomas Tallis, G.P. da Palestrina, John Tavener, Hildegard von Bingen, Gerda Blok-Wilson, C.H.H. Parry, Eric Whitacre and the conductor, Owain Park. These pieces ranged from the 11th to the 21st century and the variety of styles and voice ranges required created a huge challenge that this amazing choir met with sophisticated ease.

Highlights for me were ‘Silence and Music’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams, ‘Faire is the Heaven’ by William Henry Harris, ‘Evening Hymn’ by Einojuhani Rautavaara, ‘Sicut Cervus’ by Palestrina, ‘O Little Rose’ by Gerda Blok-Wilson and ‘Beati quorum via’ by Owain Park.

Serenity, cohesion and harmonic balance were immediately evident in the opening ‘Silence and Music’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams, whereas in the following piece,  ‘Faire is the Heaven’ by William Henry Harris, we were entranced by the music’s attractive cheerfulness and contrasting moments of excitement. A sense of character and courageous melodic expansion using an amazing range in the voices pervaded ‘Evening Hymn’ by Einojuhani Rautavaara. Singing  ‘Sicut Cervus’ by Palestrina in the Lady Chapel and its renowned lengthy echoes made it easy for us to be transported in time back to the 16th century when this music was first performed in the ornate cathedrals of Italy. Works for male voices only are usually on the macho -bombastic style, but in ‘O Little Rose’ by Gerda Blok-Wilson, the male voices of Cambridge Chorale sang with tenderness and beauty – a most enjoyable and rare treat. ‘Beati quorum via’ by Owain Park was a sophisticated reference to Stanford’s earlier version and Owen’s piece and was a very impressive modern, full-blooded and expressive work of variety and interest.

The final ‘Her Sacred spirit soars’ by Eric Whitacre with its amazingly powerful climaxes was a fitting ending to this superb concert and the encore by ‘Heavens Flock’ by Ērics Ešenvalds was certainly well deserved.

Cambridge Chorale next perform at Trinity College Chapel on the 18th May 2019. For more information contact http://www.cambridgechorale.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Review of ‘The Building of Ely Cantata Eliensis’ in The Lady Chapel Ely Cathedral on Sunday 26 June 2016

June 27, 2016

review 26 June 16 The Story of Ely CathedralThe Cantata Eliensis tells the story of the building of Ely Cathedral. The librettist, Nick Pitts-Tucker, used original sources as his inspiration and the music was well-designed to reflect the chants and  harmonies from the twelfth century while incorporating more contemporary effects that coloured events wonderfully. The three composers Anna Krause, Toby Young and Louis Mander produced some intriguing sounds which gave the story life and substance and which would not have been possible without the expertise of the very fine musicians. We could feel the mysterious eeriness of the Fens, we experienced the horror of battle and marvelled at the portrayal of quarrymen, layers, carpenters and masons at work. Although a modern instrument, the improvised nature of the saxophone part interwove within the texture fittingly.

Under the baton of Kate Bullimore Cantata Dramatica soloists and chorus expressed the music with accomplished conviction leaving the audience with a sense that it had indeed experienced what it must have been like to build such a magnificent building in those times.

It was fortuitous that the Director of Music at Ely Cathedral had heard the work before in Grantham and the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral was a most appropriate place for the powerful open harmonies resounding against the stark stone of the surroundings.

For more information contact http://www.cantatadramatica.com

Review of Cambridge Voices  in Ely Cathedral on 31st August, 2015

September 1, 2015

Ian de Massini Aug 15 emailAdeC’s annual presentation of ‘Cambridge Voices’ in Ely Cathedral is always a major event of amazing quality and musicality. Last Monday night’s performance in the Lady Chapel was certainly no exception.  These highly accomplished singers gave a breath-taking, inspired performance under the direction of our Cambridge musical genius, Ian de Massini.  Ian has an incredible intuitive understanding of the essence of ‘real’ music, so much so, that he has the know-how and assurance to reach inside the thinking of great composers like Johann Sebastian Bach and Mahler and arrange their instrumental works for this fantastic choir to sing unaccompanied.

In quiet, unassuming confidence, the choir not only sang superbly,  holding a phenomenal number of  different parts together from different areas in the Lady Chapel, but they reshaped their groups constantly and effectively, presenting  works of considerable diversity. The listeners were spellbound and there was hardly a movement or sound from them as the programme flowed meaningfully from one work to another.

Highlights for me were Ian’s own composition ‘I sing of a maiden’ and his arrangements of: Robert Wylkynson’s ‘Jesus autem transiens/Credo in Deum’ , Gibbon’s ‘Drop, drop slow tears’ and Ian’s arrangement of the finale from Mahler’s Third symphony.

’ I sing of a maiden’ was a beautiful, soft and contemplative piece, with exquisitely sustained melodies and harmonies that simply melted the heart. In the Mahler’s composition, with the orchestral version still in mind, I couldn’t help marvelling at how Ian was able to capture exactly the same emotional potency in Mahler’s soul-wrenching climaxes.  With this work and his arrangements of instrumental works by Bach, Ian not only caught the nature and style of the compositions but he also took advantage of how voices can express more personal, subtle nuances that many of their instrumental counterparts cannot.

The other works enjoyed were a prayer of King Henry V1 sung in the Cathedral at first and then repeated in the Lady Chapel as an encore, a number of plainsong settings that helped bridge items in this thoughtfully- produced programme and a work of considerable dramatic impact:  Herbert Howell’s ‘Gloria Patri’ .  There were also John Harvey’s ‘The Angels’, Knut Nysted’s ‘Immortal Bach’ and Rutti’s ‘Psalm 150’. Carl Rutti was present in the audience and gave a delightful performance of  Bach’s ‘Sinfonia no. 11 in G minor’ on the chamber organ before Ian’s vocal arrangement of the same piece – an intriguing effect.  Other gems included Ian’s vocal arrangement of Bach’s ‘Perpetual Canon for 4 Instruments’ and Bach’s compilation of orchestral accompaniment to  Kuhnau’s ‘Triste est anima mea’.  Ian also expertly arranged ‘Crucifixus’ from Bach’s ‘Mass in B minor’, and the joyful third movement from Bach’s first Brandenburg Concerto (sung to one word: ‘Hallelujah’!).

This was indeed a highly captivating and enjoyable evening. It was a privilege to witness such musical genius!

review of Ely Consort’s ‘400 Years of Choral Music’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 1st December 2012

December 3, 2012

The concert by Ely Consort, 400 Years of Choral Music’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 1st December 2012 was magnificent – a most fitting memorial to Giovanni Gabrieli who died some 400 years ago. The concert opened with his Jubilate Deo which echoed beautifully around the Lady Chapel in true Gabrieli style.

Under the directorship of Matthew Rudd this choir has developed into a phenomenal group. A full rich tone, carefully and expressively shaped phrases, precise entries and rhythmic cohesion mark their performance every time.

This concert was especially enjoyable because of the varied programme that included many ‘old favourites’ and a number of new pieces that, even on a first hearing, were fresh, vital and contained very attractive combinations of sound.

The internal passion and exciting climaxes of Bruckner’s Christus factus est and Locus Iste, the appealing harmonies and flowing movement in Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, the stable serenity of Hassler’s Dixit Maria, the poignant discords in Mozart’s  lighter-styled Sancta Maria, mater Dei  and  more serious Ave Verum Corpus were all beautifully sung. An evening of such glorious music would have been sufficient, but this time these fine singers gave us more. The modern works by Dubra, Will Todd and Lauridsen were enthralling, using modern techniques that enhanced their musical appeal. Dubra’s Veni Sanctus Spiritus contained challenging moments for the singers that were well mastered. Will Todd’s The Call of Wisdom conveyed perfectly a sense of the serene calm of wisdom with its expansive uplifting and deeply spiritual dimensions. I can’t wait to hear the piece Will Todd is composing for Ely Consort next September 7th to celebrate Ely Consort’s 25th anniversary. The Lauridsen Nocturnes with their international appeal using different languages, captured exquisitely the special romantic potency of a warm summer’s evening.

Jonathan Lilley provided essential and empathetic accompaniment on chamber organ or piano as required. His phenomenal musicianship was very much in evidence in his solo performances of Mozart’s Fugue in Eb K.153,  A Little Gigue’ K.574 and Debussy’s Jardins sous la pluie. You could almost feel the rain on the gardens in the Debussy.

The concert ended magnificently with Poulenc’s  joyful, declarative Hodie Christus natus est.

Ely Consort’s concerts next year will be:

Saturday 9th March at St. Mary’s Church, Burwell

Saturday 22nd June at St. Andrew’s Church, Sutton and

Saturday 7th September Evensong in Ely Cathedral

Contact: http://www.elyconsort.org.uk

Rosemary Westwell

Review of Cambridge Voices in Ely Cathedral on Monday 27th August 2012.

September 1, 2012

ADeC, Ian de Massini, Cambridge Voices and The Orchestra of the Age of Reason (directed by Peter Britton) triumphed again. To a packed Lady Chapel, they presented a highly energized performance of Bach’s well-known Mass in B Minor. As one would expect with Ian, there was never a dull moment. This was no ordinary performance. A work that at first seemed so familiar was invigourated wih unique verve and delight as the music positively come alive, keeping the listeners spellbound throughout the performance. Ian’s enthusiasm, his empathy with the inner working so Bach’s composition and messages and his capacity to inspire created a glorious experience never to be forgotten.

The highlights were when the choir and orchestra sang in full reign, especially in the opening and third Kyri e, Cum Sancto Spiritu (Prelude and Fugue) in part two, Credo 1(Fugue)  in part three and Sanctus (Fantasia) in Part 4.   The immediate impact of these pieces sent shivers down the spine.

It is amazing how these wonderful musicians could fill the Lady Chapel (and its renowned delayed echo) with exquisitely-shaped lines that interwove again and again and yet remained clear in a full, rich ‘unmuddied’ texture. The acoustic qualities of the Lady Chapel were wonderfully harnessed: every detail carefully considered. Changes of timing, mood and texture were carefully and smoothly controlled and from the very opening when the choir surrounded us, we were made to feel centre-stage, at the core of the music.

One of the most moving items was very early into the evening when Ian, (Countertenor), Nick Nightingale (Tenor) and Chris Newlands (Bass) sang ‘Homage to Cambridge Voices’ – Ian’s special arrangement of the opening to Byrd’s Mass for 3 Voices. It was indeed a splendid way to remember past members and the 25th anniversary of the choir. This was a very personal journey for us as listeners as it must have been for Ian and these fine musicians. Ian’s description in the programme of his visit to France that initiated the beginning of this amazing choir, gave insight into how his infectious love of music and his unbridled talent has inspired some of the greatest music to be heard in the Lady Chapel.

Of the solos, most notable contributions were Philippa Gardner (contralto) opening the concert with the Plainsong: Requiem aeternum, the trio of Ian, Nick Nightingale and Chris Newlands, Lucy Taylor (mezzo-soprano) singing Que sedes in part two, Josephine Stephenson (soprano) singing Hymn to the Virgin Mary: – A maiden most gentle in part 3 Belinda Hambling-Boulton (soprano) singing Agnus Dei in part four and, of course, the trio at the beginning.

The orchestra excelled itself, its authentic sound the result of the combined talent of performers who were experts in their field with special contributions from the solo violin, trumpets and oboe d’amore.

This was a magnificent event and a very special celebration unique never to be forgotten.

Contacts:

http://www.adec.org.uk

Cambridge-voices.org.uk

iandemassini@gmail.com

 

Review of ADeC’s concert in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel: Handel’s Messiah by Cambridge Voices and the Orchestra of the Age of Reason under the direction of Ian de Massini

September 7, 2011

Whenever Ian de Massini is at the helm, we know we are going to experience something wonderful and the performance of Handel’s Messiah in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel was no exception. The Chapel was packed with devotees waiting with bated breath for yet another spectacular event.

So much of Handel’s Messiah is familiar and so much has been done to popularise performances.  Yet under the directorship of Ian, technical know-how and an intimate, profound understanding of the composer’s thoughts brought the work into shape, revealing dramatic qualities that have often been subdued and demonstrating the true worth of Handel as a composer.

The choir and orchestra, as always, excelled. Precise entries and dramatic contrasts in volume, pace and texture were explored to the full. Ian’s contribution as conductor and accompanist on the organ and harpsichord was undoubtedly inspirational.

The constant sense of excitement and awe was enhanced by the variety of soloists within the performance. The opening recitative Comfort ye sung by the tenor from the back of the chapel signalled a performance that was going to be exhilarating and unforgettable.

The Orchestra of the Age of Reason was an integral part of the wonderful effects, performing ‘as one’ while providing noticeable clarity in the texture which remained strong, warm and supportive. The inordinate skill of the instrumentalists was a constant feature.

New life was breathed into familiar choruses. The vibrant impact of And the glory of the Lord, the lightness and clarity of the choir’s embellishments in And he shall purify the sons of Levi and the refreshing liveliness and warmth of For unto us a child is born were matched by the striking power of Glory to God, the deep contrasts in Surely, And with his stripes and All we like sheep, the masterful men’s voices in He trusted in God. The culmination of the first half was the rousing Hallelujah chorus with choir, orchestra and audience combining to fill the Lady Chapel with spine-chilling sounds. Participating in this concert was far greater an experience than any other I have known. This is largely due to Ian’s perceptive attention to every detail that makes up his performances. His carefully selected choir members not only sang beautifully and combined cohesively but managed to do this while often placed at different positions within the Lady Chapel and often separated from the other singers of their part. I was able to choose between soprano and alto with strong representation from both parts in close proximity —a testament to Ian’s ingenious choreography.

In addition, Ian’s understanding of the special acoustics of the Lady Chapel brought amazing clarity to the performance and his joyous celebration of Handel’s ideas led to many exquisite moments when he held  back the final phrase for almost too long so that we could all could savour the beauty and expression.

Delights after interval included the opening unaccompanied choir’s Lift up your heads, O ye gates, the rapid declarative counterpoint in Let us break their bonds asunder ,the positive momentum of But thanks be to God and the triumphant , robust and rousing elements of the final Choruses: Worthy is the Lamb, Blessing and honour and Amen.

As expected, this was a unique, exciting and unforgettable performance – one of ADeC’s best.

Future Concerts by Cambridge Voices include:

Saturday 22nd October 2011 7.30 pm Music and the King James Bible of 1611 in St Columba’s Church, Downing St., Cambridge

Sunday 27th November 2011 4.00 pm Britten’s A Boy was Born in the two churches of Swaffham Prior

Good Friday 2012 Bach’s t. John Passion (with The Orchestra of the Age of Reason) St Columba’s Church, Downing St., Cambridge and in the two churches of Swaffham Prior the next day

Monday 27th August 2012 Bach’s Mass in B minor (with The Orchestra of the Age of Reason and the   augmented choir of Cambridge 40 Voices)

RJWestwell

Review: Cambridge Voices and The Orchestra of the Age of Reason in the Lady Chapel Ely Cathedral 30th August 2010

September 3, 2010

ADeC’s annual fund raising concert needed little to persuade the audience to attend. The pinnacle of choral events in Ely Cathedral, the concert by Cambridge Voices and The Orchestra of the Age of Reason in the Lady Chapel, was soon sold out and with good reason.

Director Ian de Massini is a unique musician whose magnetic charisma captures the minds and hearts of the performers and the audience to produce a mesmerizing and unforgettable experience.

At the opening of the concert, the tension of expectation rose as the audience waited in silence for the first sounds of ‘Jesus autem transiens’ by Robert Wylkynson, a round for thirteen voices.      

We were transported back to the 15th century as the choir processed singing from memory, to surround the audience and a choir member dressed in white rang his bell to signal the beginning of each voice in the round. The closing bars were very much part of Ian’s mesmerizing choreography as he and the closing voices bowed in acknowledgement. The ‘Credo’ followed seamlessly. We were enthralled.

Purcell’s ‘Hear my prayer’ followed. The unique acoustics of the Lady Chapel enhanced the electrifying effect of the singers’ hushed opening. Not a soul moved. It was enchanting. The poise and tonal veracity of the choir captured the essence of the excitement and drama of Purcell’s climaxes as the work progressed and the two phrases, ‘Hear my prayer, O Lord’ and ‘And let my crying come unto thee’ intertwined. The crying was indeed from the heart.

Unequivocal gestures from Ian created the shape of a cross on stage as the choir members swiftly moved into place. The ‘Crucifixus a 8’ by Antonio Lotti was potent and sustained as it gradually built up the tension and texture to give extra emotional charge to the words of the creed that speak of the crucifixion and burial of Christ.      

‘Drop, drop, slow tears’ by Orlando Gibbons gave this familiar work new value with the performers’ perfect timing and pinpointed entries.  

One of the most popular pieces of the sacred repertoire followed: ‘Miserere mei, Deus’ by Allegri. In lesser choirs one waits with bated breath for the top ‘C’ in the soprano. Will they make it or will be a note beyond their capability? In this case, it was superb – a clear, polished and integral part of an expertly performed piece that was perfectly balanced and that emphasized the antiphonal nature of the composition by Ian’s clever choreography. The full choir at the back to the Lady Chapel responded in timely fashion to the beautifully balanced ensemble of soloists at the front.

With another quick change the choir was now assembled in semi-circular fashion at the front of the Chapel. Ian’s gesture to create a space between the two sides of the choir made it clear that the competing sides were taking no prisoners. The singers gave ‘Salve Regina’ full measure as they revelled in the glorious sounds of Gabrieli’s style.

More variety followed with the lush, full-bodied tones we associate with Russian Orthodox singing. ‘Bogoroditse Devo’ by Rachmaninov exuded all the melancholic nostalgia and dramatic climaxes needed.

The first half of the concert ended with the most recent composition: ‘Totus tutus’ by the 20th century composer Henryk Mikolaj Górecki. The fanfare-like opening, the velvety angelic episodes, the exploitation of antiphony and sudden changes in modulation were integrated superbly by Ian’s exquisite and powerful moulding. When the singers’ voices calmed to its reverend and prayerful close, there was no doubt that this had been a unique, unsurpassable experience.

The second half of the programme was a fine performance of ‘Magnificat in D’ by Johann Sebastian Bach. In this The Orchestra of the Age of Reason demonstrated its true metal and under the baton of Peter Britton captured the spirit and momentum of Bach’s style perfectly. Choir and soloists combined to highlight the wide variety of effects in Bach’s composition from chordal strength or lyrical charm to fugal tension.

The undoubted success of this evening suggests that you should book your seats for next year’s events very early.

Contacts:

ADeC  www. adec.org.uk

Ian_demassini@dsl.pipex.com

http://www.elycathedral.org

www.localsecrets.com

review Ely Choral Society:Purcell and his Time

October 27, 2009

Review: Ely Choral Society “Purcell and his time” in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral 24th October 2009

Under the directorship of Andrew Parnell, Ely Choral Society has become a choir of considerable worth. In their concert Purcell and his time in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on the 24th October, the impressively large number of singers produced a rich, strong, and powerful sound that was very skillfully shaped by Andrew. Their polished performance included notable contrasts of expression and sensitive awareness of the need for clear diction. Angelic thirds proliferated in the sopranos and altos and there was much tonal splendour, vibrancy and fullness in the men’s voices. These qualities were particularly noticeable in the performances of Purcell’s Miserere, Come ye Sons of Art, in the second Thou knowest Lord the secrets of our hearts and in O God Thou art my God .

The event offered a fascinating chronological journey through life during Pepy’s and Purcell’s time. With careful voice production (in order to overcome the difficulties of the unique acoustics of the Lady Chapel), Nick Huntingdon read a fascinating series of excerpts from Pepy’s diary in which he described life in London in the 17th century.  The Plague, the Fire of London and the activities of Lord Sandwich were among his intriguing descriptions.

 Rebecca Duckworth, an alluring soprano, filled the Lady Chapel with some glorious sounds in her solo Evening Hymn (Purcell) and in her roles in O pray for the Peace (John Blow) and in The Lord is King, and hath put on glorious apparel (Purcell).

Jonathan Lilley, confirmed his commendable abilities as Assistant Organist at Ely Cathedral by his highly competent and sympathetic accompaniments on the smaller, more intimate portable organ in the Lady Chapel. 

A team of skilled brass and percussion instrumentalists provided variety: Gavin Bowyer and Richard Hall (trumpets), David Minchin and Sarah Minchin (trombones) and Dave Ellis (drums). Their contributions included Four pieces for Sackbuts and Cornetts c 1661 by Charles Colemen. The third of these was particularly appealing with its lively rhythm and strong contrasts. The players added colour and vibrancy to a number of other items especially in the main highlight of the event: Funeral Music for Queen Mary (Purcell). In this collection of works, the Chapel resonated with spine-chilling effects. The most unforgettable of these were the gradually increasing and decreasing drum rolls by Dave Ellis as he processed into the Chapel at the beginning of this collection of works and as he recessed out of the Chapel at the end until the final, almost silent single drum roll brought this section to a breath-taking close. The choir’s vital, cohesive and broad chords, the brass players’ precise and timely embellishments and the ominous drum calls held the listeners spellbound.

This was indeed a splendid evening.

Contacts: fbowles@o2.co.uk

Future events to look forward to include:

Saturday 5th December 2009 A King is born at St Mary’s Church Ely

Saturday 30th January 2010 Peace Child – Alpha Omega by David Gordon (Cat Steven’s brother) Ely Cathedral

Saturday 27th March 2010 St Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach with Rogers Covey-Crump of The Hilliard Ensemble, a specialist period orchestra and Jonathan Lilley

Saturday 19th June 2010 Summer Concert

Saturday 30th October 2010 Petite Messe Solennelle by Rossini Lady Chapel Ely Cathedral  

Rosemary Westwell

review Cambridge Voices, The Age of Reason Orchestra and Ian de Massini Aug 2009

September 8, 2009

It is very easy to believe that nothing new can be said about Handel. His Hallelujah chorus is the quintessential ingredient to Christmas that everyone knows.

As expected, Cambridge Voices and the Orchestra of the Age of Reason, no newcomers to the Ely Cathedral, drew a large enthusiastic audience that packed the Lady Chapel. The programme for the celebratory concert to mark the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric  Handel  looked interesting enough and in the hands of an enthusiastic amateur would have been pleasant indeed.

However, nothing prepared us for the amazing effect of Ian de Massini .  This inspired conductor, arranger and composer infused a unique vibrancy and excitement in music that transfixed the listeners.  Right at the beginning of the event, Ian’s magnetic personality was apparent. No one dared move in case of missing the most subtle of effects.

Zadok the priest is an anthem that has often been performed at high profile events including every coronation since George 11 in 1727.  I have heard this performed often but no other performance captured the spine-chilling effect that these performers created this time. Under Ian’s charismatic direction, the orchestral ensemble calmly and clearly introduced the anthem pacing it well, matching the spirit of the music exactly. Every sonorous note exuded warmth. There was no sight of the choir, which was a little worrying. How were they going to come in on time, without disturbing the effect? Slowly and silently, with exact timing the choir surrounded the audience. When the first dramatic notes were struck we found ourselves right at the core of this fantastic work. This was just one of many thrilling moments in this amazing event.

Ian’s profound musical understanding and wisdom permeated the works with sounds that broke the bounds of tradition. The spirit of Handel was alive and tonal beauty, exact and cohesive timing and precise attention to the most subtle of expressions made his works invigorating and exciting. This was especially noticeable in final allegro of Concerto in F major Op.4. no. 4. for organ and in the abridged oratorio Israel in Egypt.

It was clear that this experience was driven by Ian’s musical vigour and understanding. ‘Celebration’ was the key and he chose works by other composters that enhanced the spirit of the evening perfectly. In Part 2 of the concert Anniversary Corner, Haydn, Purcell, and Mendelssohn featured along with Ian’s invaluable additions. Haydn’s The marvellous work behold amazed!  featured Gill Wilson’s clear soprano voice adding a sense of lightness and buoyancy to this joyous work. Then three short pieces by Purcell captured the special relationship that good music forges in sounds that represent inner religious conviction, reverence and prayer.  No matter how soft and subtle the expression, the double canon in Sancta Maria by Purcell arranged by De Massini and the pleading phrases of Hear my prayer, O Lord mesmerized the listeners.   The repeat of Sancta Maria with it soft ethereal appeal was exactly right. Variety was provided by the more developed, harmonic style of Mendelssohn’s choral music in For he shall give his angels charge over thee . Ian’s unique touch added to this work too. The Anniversary Corner culminated with Ian’s sophisticated, clever but invariably musical arrangement of Amazing grace. Only Ian can mix the traditional expressive style of a spiritual with 21st century choral complexities harmonic colouring and mind-blowing climaxes. The attractive contralto voice of Jenny Oldham featured her own special sense of sincerity and naturalness.

Throughout the evening, one felt an inextricable part of this amazing musical experience and it seemed perfectly natural that we should be further involved and be allowed to stand and take our own part in Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Ian’s invariable personal consideration and attention to detail was clearly evident when we discovered the score on our seats in anticipation.  On reflection, this astute musician with such a unique and profound musical awareness displayed real tact as he bravely conducted a full Chapel of motley voices.  Never, was his sense of joy lost.

This concert, generously supported by ADeC, was indeed a unique and special event.

Future concerts to be given by Cambridge Voices and The Orchestra of the Age of Reason include:

Advent by Candlelight: 4.00 p.m. Sunday December 13th, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: Good Friday April 2nd at St. Columba’s Church, Downing St., Cambridge. To keep informed of event, email the choir director ian_demassini@dsl.pipex.com

Contact for ADeC: www. adec.org.uk