Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Rudd’

Review of Ely Consort’s In memoriam concert on Saturday 1st December in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel

December 3, 2018

Ely Consort is a name to be reckoned with. This must be one of the best choirs in the district. It isn’t until you hear good quality music produced by an excellent choir like this that you realize what you have been missing. Director Matthew Rudd really knows how to shape and develop a beautiful, well balanced sound and how to vary the pace, rhythm and dynamics to create mesmerising effects.

Russian Orthodox Church music brings to mind deep bass voices singing in open harmony. Tonight we certainly had the gorgeous deep basses and also a well produced tone in each of voice parts. With the gorgeous sound this choir produced echoing round the Lady Chapel it was easy to imagine we were transported into the depths of Russia.

The theme of the evening: remembrance, commemoration and reconciliation was well reflected in the pieces. The programme was based around Rachmaninov’s unaccompanied ‘All Night Vigil’.  The powerful richness of the voices was apparent from the start. Singing in Russian, this choir’s attention to detail, its expressiveness and precision were exceptional.

Other works included David Bednall’s ‘To a Missing Friend and ‘The Soldier’, a delightfully refreshing ’Do not Stand at my Grave and Weep’ by David Jepson, the tumultuous ‘Ring out, Wild Bells’ by Jonathan Dove and the first performance of a commissioned work by Sarah Quartel ‘’Hope’ is the thing with feathers’.

Sarah’s work was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening. Her charming lyrical piano accompaniment and the way she coloured the words so adorably and effectively made this piece most effective. The sense of the lightness of a fluttering bird, rising above the storms in life was never lost.

Charlie Penn’s accompaniments were superb. He achieved amazing effects in Jonathan Dove’s ‘Ring out, wild bells’.

This was indeed an excellent concert. The next events to look forward to are concert on Saturday 15th December at All Saints’ Church in Cottenham, on Saturday 16th March in Ely Methodist Church and on Saturday 29th June in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell. For more information contact info@

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.

For more information

Rosemary Westwell

Review of a concert by Ely Consort , Burwell Village College Year 6 Singers and Perse Girls Junior School Choir in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell on Saturday 9th March 2013

March 10, 2013

Image (pictured soloist John Simmons) Ely Consort , Burwell Village College Year 6 Singers and Perse Girls Junior School Choir warmed the hearts of a packed audience on a chilly night in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell on Saturday 9th March 2013. These fine singers presented a host of entertaining and beautifully produced material. With Matthew Rudd directing, Ely Consort opened the event with some splendid American numbers arranged by Daryl Runswick: ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘Shenandoah’. ‘Yankee Doodle’ was a lively and spirited performance which was followed by a deliciously smooth, nostalgic ‘Shenandoah’.

In memory of Dave Brubeck who died last year, an instrumental group consisting of Claire Stevenson (saxophone), Daphna Sadeh Neu (bass), Jonathan Lilley (piano) and Roger Bett (drums) had us tapping our toes to ‘Take Five’.  The contributions by Claire Stevenson and Jonathan Lilley were particularly impressive.

Tonal beauty and well-shaped phrasing by Ely Consort endeared us to a lovely performance of ‘Sure on this shining Light’ by Morten Laurisden which was followed by a highly charismatic series of songs from Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’. John Simmons (solo bass) was particularly good, revelling in the role.

After interval the full choir brightened up the church with a stimulating performance of Alexander L’Estrange’s ‘Zimbe’, an exciting collection of songs from Africa. This composition suits a large choir and sounds from Ely Consort were well matched with the junior singers. The flow of rhythmic chants, the melodious full harmonies of the native African styles and the joyful involvement of the singers captivated the audience.

This was indeed a wonderful concert and you should book early for Ely Consort’s celebration of its 25th Silver Jubilee Anniversary concert on Saturday 22nd June at St. Andrews in Sutton.

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


Rosemary Westwell

Review of Ely Consort’s performance of Brahm’s Requiem in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 26th March 2011

March 28, 2011

From the time Matthew Rudd took over the directorship of Ely Consort in 2002, it has grown in numbers and stature. Under his astute directorship, the tonal quality, clarity and polish this group of fine singers has developed has become more and more remarkable.

In their performance on Saturday these qualities were particularly evident in the motet Beati quorum via by Charles Villiers Stanford. The harmonies were beautifully balanced and entries and closures of effortlessly sustained lines were precise but not too precise to damage the wonderful resonance that filled the presbytery in Ely Cathedral where the concert took place. The ranges of expression, changes of mood and the gradual development of tension, dynamics and climaxes were wonderfully crafted by this excellent conductor and these marvellous singers.

These qualities were also especially apparent in Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s Blessed be the God and Father, Justorum animae by Stanford and the opening and closing Selig sind …, in Brahm’s Requiem. The words ‘But the word of the Lord endureth forever’ in Wesley’s piece built to a most effective climax.

Two impressive soloists performed with the choir. Francis Brett (baritone), who in the early days of his career won a choral scholarship to King’s College Cambridge, and our Ely-based diva Catriona Clark (soprano) enhanced the evening with first rate performances. Francis sang Herr, lehre doch mich, the third movement of Brahm’s Requiem, with mesmerizing warmth and potency. His superb technique engendered a sense of effortlessness as he captured the expressiveness of the text exactly. His contribution to the sixth movement of the Requiem, Denn wir habern hie keine bleibende Statt, brought out significant words with special clarity and colour.

Catriona Clark sparkled with her light, vibrant and well focused tones. She featured in Wesley’s Blessed be the God and Father and Ihr habt nun traurigkeit from the Requiem. Her solos by Brahms contrasted well. The first Wie Melodien was charming and gentle with key notes clothed with expressive warmth and the second song by Brahms, The Vain Suit was in English and a highly entertaining moment of humour not always apparent in Brahm’s usual profound style.

Jonathan Lilley, assistant organist to Ely Cathedral, accompanied with his usual expertise. The smooth fingerwork and empathy with the Cathedral’s organ were particularly apparent in his solo Postlude in D minor, Op 105. No 6 by Stanford. The declarative rousing melodies and the softer interwoven textures were putty in this highly accomplished performer’s hands.

The Consort is undoubtedly one of the finest choral groups in the area and among many of their spine-chilling moments was their performance of Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras (For all flesh is as grass), the second movement of the Requiem as Matthew drew out the most sinister of sounds to complement the funeral-march of the organ. Matthew’s skill in moving smoothly from one mood to another, changing pace and texture was particularly noticeable.

This was indeed a splendid concert.

The next event by Ely Consort includes a performance of Walton’s Coronation Te Deum in their concert on Saturday 25th June 2011 in St. Andrew’s Church Sutton.

You might also be interested in other events advertised in the programme:

Stretham Feast concert, St. Jame’s Church, featuring Alternative Medicine and Guests on Friday 14th May 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

East Anglia Chamber Orchestra (EACHO) featuring music by Bach, Copland, Albinoni and Dvorak in Ely Cathedral on Sunday 3rd April 2011 at 5.15 p.m.

Cantate Jubilate with works by Tallis, Purcell, Byrd and Stopford at St. Margarets’ Church Chippenham, Cambs. on Saturday 9th April at 7.30 p.m.



Ely Cathedral Box Office, tel: 01353 660349

Review of Ely Consort singing in Ely Cathedral

March 14, 2010

Ely Consort presented an exquisite programme of delightful music in the presbytery of Ely Cathedral on Saturday 13th March 2010.

The setting was evocative: the lighting enhanced by flickering candles, the lovely sounds of the choir enriched by the high cathedral vaults. Under Matthew Rudd’s s expert directorship, the contrasts these voices achieved were magnificent. The singers explored the subtle, meditative components with rare sensitivity, filling the cathedral with powerful climactic fervour as the compositions developed. The soloists were particularly well chosen: Clare Lloyd (soprano), Johnny Herford (baritone), Christine Bullen (alto) and Johnny Herford (tenor) and the organ accompaniment by Jonathan Lilley was, as expected, first-rate.

Works included Ronald Corp’s Missa San Marco, Ave Maria by Bach and Gounod, Urlicht by Mahler, Five Spirituals from a ‘Child of our Time’ by Michael Tippett and Faure’s Requiem – all highly appropriate for the setting.

Ronald Corp’s Missa San Marco was a fine composition that explored the cathedral environment intuitively. His scompositional approach used a more sophisticated but attractive style than the music of 16th -17th century Monteverdi in St. Mark’s Venice (the inspiration for the work). A wholesome tone, long pedal notes, carefully balanced echoing and sustained phrases that allowed the full effect of the acoustics to contribute created a splendid ethereal sound.

Clare Lloyd (soprano) has a magnificent voice and her Ave Maria was positively exquisite. Her beautiful resonance and seamless phrasing above Jonathan Lilley’s serene accompaniment (J.S. Bach’s First Prelude of his 48 Preludes and Fugues) kept the audience spellbound.  

After Johnny Herford’s fine performance of Urlicht by Mahler came one of the highlights of the concert: Michael Tippett’s Five Spirituals from a ‘Child of our Time’: Steal away, Nobody knows, Go down, Moses, By and by and Deep river. Similar to how Bach included familiar episodes in his passions, Tippet introduced these familiar works into his oratorio Child of our Time. However, these were no ordinary arrangements. Tippett’s inspiration driven by sympathy for the victims of the brutal anti-Semitism of his time was clearly reflected in these songs. Poignancy, despair, anguish, elation and excruciating yearning were just some of the heightened emotions these works released. The spirituals were infused with Ely Consort’s and the soloists’ positive influences notably the rising tones of the soprano in Steal Away, a very pleasing texture and exciting contrasts in Nobody knows, emphatic, elongated cries to ‘Let my people go’ in Go down Moses, a dynamic, rhythmic pulse in By and by and rich harmonies and the breath-taking reverence in Deep river.  

The evening culminated with Requiem by Fauré. With rare, constrained sensitivity, these singers reflected the serenity of Faure’s composition exactly. The familiar movements, Introit et Kyrie, Offertoire, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei, Libera me and In paradisum, were potent entities, the special character of each perfectly maintained. Clare Lloyd’s Pie Jesu and Johnny Herford’s Libera me were outstanding.

As the final notes of In paradisum faded we knew that we had been involved in a unique event that will be very hard to follow.

Future events for Ely Consort include:

On tour in Belgium 29th May to 1st June

Saturday 26th June, St. Andrew’s Church, Sutton, Missa di Gloria Puccini

Saturday 27th November, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church, Chatteris Ceremony of Carols Britten