Posts Tagged ‘Paul Trepte’

A review of ‘Prime Brass’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 11th November 2017

November 14, 2017

Prime Brass is renowned as an excellent group of brass players and tonight the standard of music was as high as expected. Conducted by Paul Trepte they gave magnificent performances opening proceedings with the majestic but sombre ‘Marche Triomphale du Centenaire de Napoléon’ by Louis Vierne,

This was followed by an original composition commissioned for Paul Trepte: ‘Fanfares and Chorale’. Paul’s composition was one of the highlights. He explored the contrasts of the more precisely articulated and triumphant fanfare and the more sonorous chorales intriguingly well while creating a cohesive and interesting piece as a whole.

Other delightful pieces performed by this group were ‘Salvum fac populum tuum’ by Widor and ‘A night on a Bare Mountain’ by Mussorgsky arranged by K. Singleton.

Later in the programme, Guy Llewellyn’s arrangement of ‘Mars the Bringer of War’ by Holst was especially effective and the sense of foreboding and the impending horror of war were never lost.

The younger Prime Brass group excelled themselves. Under the baton of Christopher Lawrence they flourished and the pieces they played rang out beautifully and triumphantly through the magnificent vaults of Ely Cathedral. Their ‘Fanfare for a Royal Occasion’ by Ken Naylor, Rigaudon by Campra and ‘Remember’ by Jasper Eaglesfied were delightful. ‘Remember’ was especially interesting for it was commissioned from the young composer who could be found in the midst of Junior Prime Brass. He should go far.

When the groups came together at the end of the concert, the impact of such a powerful sound and the amazing precision of their playing, especially in ‘A Poetic March’ by Alford was particularly noticeable. With fireworks resounding in the park next door before the concert began, the final piece, Handel’s ‘Fireworks Suite’ culminated the concert perfectly.

This was a splendid memorable concert in keeping with this special day.



Review of ‘A Summer Celebration’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 25th June 2016

June 27, 2016

review 25 June 16 1 choristersreview 25 June 16 3 Lesley Garrett and Sarah McDonaldreview 25 June John Rutter‘A Summer Celebration’ in Ely Cathedral last Saturday must be one of the major highlights of the year and it certainly celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir magnificently.

The performers included Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir, Ely Cathedral Octagon Singers, The Ely Imps, The Ely Celebration Orchestra (led by Emma Gait) and famous guests Lesley Garrett (soprano) and John Rutter (composer and conductor). With a line-up like this, success was inevitable and it was no surprise that the cathedral was packed.

The quality of performance was undisputed and from the spine-tingling opening when the massed choir began to sing Zadok the Priest, there was not a moment that did not fill the cathedral with wonderful sound.

After Sarah MacDonald led the massed choir singing ‘Zadok the Priest’ the girls, boys and men’s choirs sang the other Coronation anthems: ‘The King shall Rejoice’ and ‘My heart is Inditing. Sarah’s conducting was exceptional.

John Rutter is an inspiring composer who writes music that is both delightful and accessible and the pieces he chose for The Ely Imps were ideal. They included ‘Magical Kingdon’, ‘Look at the World’ and ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’.  Under his baton the young singers sang beautifully, their voices clear and the music expressive and heart-warming. Asked what the secret of good composing is, John Rutter immediately replied: ‘Believe in it and study hard.’ This is wise advice from what must be one of the world’s most renowned current composers.

Equally famous Lesly Garrett joined the singers in ‘Laudate Dominum’ by Mozart and Stanford’s ‘Magnificat in G’ both of which were conducted by Sarah MacDonald. Needless to say, the effect was utterly stunning.

Beethoven’s ‘Mass in C’ was chosen to close the evening and the performers rose to the occasion wonderfully. Under Paul Trepte’s directorship they fully explored Beethoven’s quieter reflections, contrasts, intensity and changes of pace. The soloists were excellent and included Tara Bungard (soprano), Karl Read (alto), Mark Hounsell (tenor) and Jonathan Midgley (bass). For Tara this event was a real family affair for present in the audience was her mother, Sue Freestone, (Principal of The King’s School Ely where the choristers attend) who proudly admitted that her grandchildren were also performing as members of Ely Imps.

This was indeed a unique, splendid evening that would be nigh on impossible to surpass.


Review of Prime Brass in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 07th November 2015

November 12, 2015
Paul Trepte Geoffrey Alvarez Christopher Lawrence

Paul Trepte Geoffrey Alvarez Christopher Lawrence

Ely Cathedral is the ideal place if you want to make a big noise, so when I saw that ‘Prime Brass’ were performing, the group seemed just right for the concert on Saturday. However, there was much more that some fantastically powerful sounds that these brass players could muster, there were many moments of highly professional precision, expression and sensitivity.

This was no run-of-the-mill programme either. In between very pleasant and the well executed items that were expected there were recent compositions of the more expansive and complicated type.

The evening opened with ‘Spirit of the Age’ by Arthur Bliss conducted by Paul Trepte and immediately Prime Brass, demonstrated real craftsmanship. The precision, variation in the dynamics (louds and softs) and the way the instruments blended their sounds were most impressive.

This was followed by a real star of the evening:‘Symphony V1½’ written especially for tonight’s concert by Geoffrey Alvarez. Paul Trepte’s phenomenal conducting was evident when the composter told me that he was particularly impressed with the precision of the rhythm: – not an easy one to engage with, as it was based on a 6-beat pattern. I know Paul got it just right when I saw the composer so engrossed with the work that when the climax finally came he was nearly out of his seat. While I can’t pretend to have understood the significance of every note, I was fascinated by the sense of celestial grandeur, occasional spikiness and moments of abandonment especially when the mambo percussion came to the fore.  I was also amazed when the composer noted on Facebook that Edmund Aldhouse, our very own assistant organist (who played particularly well in this concert), pointed out that there was one bar discrepancy between Alvaraez’s symphony 6 for brass band and 6½ for brass and organ. Now that’s musical genius!

Other delightful compositions followed, including works by Morten Lauridsen, Eugène Bozza, Johann Sebastian Bach, Edvard Grieg, Benjamin Britten and Camille Saint-Saens.

Another contemporary composer who was at the concert was Peter Dickenson and his work ‘Fanfares and Elegies’ was another star of the night which contained great moments of contrast and extremes.

This concert also featured Junior Prime Brass conducted by Christpoher Lawrence and they were a fine testament to the future, performing will noticeable warmth and aplomb.

This was indeed a grand event.

Review: of Mixing their Music V: a boys’ voices concert in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 15th March 2014

March 16, 2014

Ely Cathedral was made for a concert like this. Choristers from Ely, Chelmsford and St. Edmundsbury Cathedrals presented an event that showed their voices at their best. The clear, ringing tones of well-trained boys’ voices could be heard throughout the Cathedral, no need for microphones here.

They sang a programme of serious and light-hearted music, ranging from Benjamin Britten’s ‘Missa Brevis’ to Horovitz’s ‘Noah’s Flood’. There were some particularly well-known and well-liked pieces including Fauré’s ‘Pie Jesu’, and ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ and César Frank’s ‘Panis Angelicus’.

Under the astute directorship of Paul Trepte, James Davy and James Thomas these choristers acquitted themselves splendidly. Particularly noticeable were the beauty, strength and purity of their voices and their sustained phrasing supported by impressive breath control.

Accompanists on organ and piano included Edmund Aldhouse, Laurence Lyndon-Jones and Daniel Soper. Ashley Harries on double bass and Will Sivier (percussion) enhanced the lively rendition of ‘Noah’s Flood’.

This was indeed a splendid and well supported evening.

Notable events to attend in the future include the free organ recitals on Sundays at 5.15. Those performed in Ely Cathedral will feature Alexander Berry on 6th July, Paul Trepte on the 3rd August and Sarah MacDonald on the 31st August.


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 the Choral Concert by the King’s School Ely in Ely Cathedral on Friday 15th March 2013

March 23, 2013

With Paul Trepte, Director of Music at Ely Cathedral, wielding the baton, and with The King’s School Chapel Choir and Ely Cathedral Choir performing, I knew we were in for a treat and the concert was indeed, as delightful as expected.

A charming programme included an early work by Britten: ‘The Company of Heaven’ and Purcell’s ‘Come ye Sons of Art’. Britten can be a little difficult to listen to at times, with his frequent use of discords, but this early work was very pleasantly tuneful and enhanced with a commendable choir and orchestra and some highly accomplished soloists: Tara Bungard (soprano) and Ben Alden (tenor).

Britten’s work opened with atmospheric sounds from the orchestra creating a sense of impending magnitude. The Reverend Canon David Pritchard and his wife Tricia took it in turns to read the text that held the work together. Their clear diction and expression gave a splendid introduction to the music that followed. Highlights of the work included the drama of the opening ‘Chaos’, the beautiful soft tones of the soprano even when rising high above the choir in ‘Heaven is Here’, the images created in ‘Funeral March for a Boy’ and the final, very moving hymn:’ Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones’.

Purcell’s ‘Come Ye Songs of Art’ balanced Britten’s work well for the orchestration was lighter and was well supported by a splendid continuo (harpsichord and cello and/or double bass). The well-known counter-tenor duet, ‘Sound the Trumpet’ was given a more gentle approach than I am accustomed to hearing, but this performance by Ashley Harries and Karl Read was charming. It sounded authentic and very much in keeping with Purcell’s era especially with the excellent accompaniment by two recorders played by Philip Mizen and Adam Dopadlik. Another highlight of this composition was the soprano’s aria: ‘Bid the virtues, Bid the Graces’ with a worthy oboe accompaniment.  James Robinson (bass) also made a fine contribution in ‘These are the Sacred Charms’.

This was indeed a very pleasant evening’s entertainment.    

Review of Prime Brass in Concert in Ely Cathedral on Sunday 9th September 2012

September 11, 2012

Prime Brass, conductor Paul Trepte and Johnathan Lilley on the organ have presented highly successful concerts in Ely Cathedral for a number of years. This year’s event was as successful as ever, however, this time there was a difference. A special, new work was included: – Paul Patterson’s The Royal Eurostar. Before it was performed, the composer described what we were to expect and the enthusiasm of his description was certainly warranted by the colour, excitement and variation it achieved. With trumpeters and timpani at different parts of the Cathedral, adding to and contrasting the sturdy band of brass and percussion players in the octagon ( supported by organist Jonathan Lilley) the resultant rolling fanfare of sound had us pinned to the seats, wondering what delights would come next. We could easily imagine the excitement of its first performance at Waterloo Station, the home of The Eurostar, in the presence of the Queen and the Prime Minister then, Lady Thatcher.

The rest of the concert contained some momentous compositions that demonstrated the tremendous power and skill of the performers. These included Hymne au Sacré-Coeur by Naji Hakim, Marche Triomphale du Centenaire de Napoléon 1 by Louis Vierne, Spitfire Prelude and Fugue by William Walton, and Entrata Festiva Op. 93 by Flors Peeters. The programme was balanced with moments of beauty and pleasant sustained sounds provided by Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Timothy Jackson and Feierlicher Einzug der Ritter des Johanniter-Ordens by Richard Strauss.

Paul’s conducting was inspired throughout and it is no surprise to learn that he received Honorary Fellowships from both The Royal School or Church Music and the Guild of Church Musicians this year.

Prime Brass will return to Ely Cathedral on the 20th of October 2012 to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Huntingdonshire Male Voice Choir.

The next concert at Ely Cathedral will feature the City Of Ely Military Band on 23rd September 2012.

Review of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, Ely’s own Last Night of The Proms, in Ely Cathedral on 2nd June 2012

June 6, 2012

Ely Cathedral’s Diamond Jubilee Concert was a resounding success. The Cathedral stage was filled with some of Ely and Cambridge’s finest musicians, the Cathedral building was decorated with an uplifting array of bunting and the seating filled to capacity by a huge crowd of enthusiastic participants. There was no doubt that this evening was going to be a magnificent experience.

The tone of the occasion began well with a special forward in the programme by none other than Prince Philip who wished us ‘an enjoyable evening’. Paul Trepte, Director of Music at Ely Cathedral, selected a magnificent collection of music associated with royalty and coronations for the programme. An amazing massed choir gelled superbly under his direction and included Ely Cathedral Choir, Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir, The Ely Imps, Ely Cathedral Octagon Singers, Ely Choral Society, Ely Consort and Ely Youth Choir.  This amazing concert also featured one of the best orchestra’s of the region:  The East Anglia Chamber Orchestra as well as the renowned Assistant Cathedral Organist, Jonathan Lilley.

The concert opened appropriately with Stanford’s ‘Coronation Gloria’ which contained the expected glorious choral and orchestral sounds. The orchestra then played a selection of movements from ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ by Handel. Under Paul’s direction this familiar music was enhanced with his own special brand of vitality and momentum. The precise dotted notes in the overture added to the sense of pomp and ceremony. A light, cheerful Bourrée was followed by a graceful ‘La Paix’. ‘La Réjouissance’ exuded a special Handelian quality while the final very familiar ‘Menuet’ was filled with grandiose gestures fitting the occasion.

The ‘Coronation Te Deum’ by Walton challenged the performers and listeners with complex, changeable textures, declarative episodes and widely varied expressions. This was music of the highest quality performed by musicians of impeccable talent and ability. Walton’s more familiar ‘Crown imperial’ for orchestra featured later in the programme when Paul demonstrated particularly well his ability to infuse the performance with a precise rhythmic drive, energized vigour and new subtleties of expression.

As a complete contrast, we were then treated to one of the ‘old favourites’ ‘The Dambusters March’ by Coates. Paul again demonstrated his unique ability to breathe fresh buoyancy and life into familiar ground.

Britten’s unaccompanied Choral Dances from ‘Gloriana’ by Britten was another contrast containing prime examples of his particular style: his special harmonies, rhythmic demands and characterizations. The almost ‘giddy’ Country Girls balanced the manly Rustics and Fishermen while the Final Dance of the Homage was filled with appropriate gentle strands lovingly woven together.

No concert like this would be complete without Parry and he featured with the much adored ‘I was Glad’ ‘Blest pair of sirens’ and ‘Jerusalem’. In ‘I was Glad’ this massive choir gave Parry’s high notes volume and depth, in ‘the Blest pair of Sirens’ they gave gentility to the interwoven lines and nobility to ‘Jerusalem’. There was nothing strained or restrained about these performances.

A taste of Vaughan Williams in ‘An English Folksong Suite’ for orchestra gave performers and listeners the opportunity to revel in this composer’s special ‘Englishness’ in all the variations offered.

The evening ended with the much anticipated audience participation and the Cathedral was filled with the sounds of patriotic voices singing Holst’ s’ ‘I vow to me my Country’, Elgar’s March: Pomp and Circumstance no.1, ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘Jerusalem’ and Elgar’s variation of the ‘National Anthem’.  The choir relaxed and spontaneously moved as one, jigging or swaying in true ‘Last night of the Proms’ tradition as delicate petal-like confetti drifted gently from the octagon above. At the end of this rousing singing the Cathedral erupted into loud cheers. A final indulgent rendering of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ brought this amazing, wonderful event to a reluctant close.

Review of Mixing their Music in Ely Cathedral on 10th March 2012

March 13, 2012

Mixing their Music in Ely Cathedral last Saturday night was an outstanding concert. The choirs of Ely Cathedral, Jesus College, Cambridge and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, combined to produce music of the highest quality filling the vaults of Ely Cathedral with potent sounds appropriate for the season.

The concert opened with all the choirs singing movements from the Crucifixion by Stainer.  When the first choral declamation of ‘Fling wide the gates!’ in The Processional to Calvary struck, it was apparent that these musicians were professionals of the highest order. Tonal purity and strength were complemented with pure beauty and polished precision. The reverence and sense of awe the words of God so loved the world were reflected perfectly by these highly accomplished performers and the Appeal of the Crucified was particularly effective, bringing out the passion of the words particularly well. Special moments included the climax to ‘they shouted against me, Crucify’ and the poignancy of ‘is it nothing to you?’

Bruckner’s attraction was made particularly apparent as the Cambridge choirs gave voice to his O Justi, Christus Factus Est and Ave Maria. Most notable were the special tonal qualities of O Justi, the powerful exploitation of contrast in Christus Factus Est and the angelic qualities and subtle expression in Ave Maria.

The first half of the programme ended with all the choirs joining to sing Finzi’s Lo the Full Final Score. Paul Trepte (Musical Director of Ely Cathedral) mentions the need for concentration by the audience to appreciate this lengthy work, but this was not difficult to do for the singers brought out an appreciable array of effects that gave credence to the words and constantly kept the music alive.

After interval the choirs combined to sing Kodaly’s Pange lingua, Barber’s Agnus Dei and Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine.  Powerful resonance permeated the Kodaly while the familiar Agnus Dei by Barber gained in depth and meaning with the words so clearly delineated. Fauré’s work maintained its romantic pull in the hands of these expert singers.

A very short interlude was provided by Richard Allain’s Cana’s Guest which developed a highly effective and glorious climax. Dvorak’s Kyrie (Mass in D) was delightful. A surprisingly charming opening Kyrie was contrasted well with the more challenging Christe eleison.

Frances Grier’s twentieth century Prayer was perhaps the most challenging of the concert. A keen sense of mystery pervaded the work, while wide-ranging effects added dimension. Notable effects included foreboding marching in the depths of the organ and strong soprano lines.

The final work was an ideal choice and ended the concert perfectly. Ralph Vaughan Williams, known to have visited Ely Cathedral and admired the angels in the south transept, wrote music to thrill and inspire. His lord thou hast been our refuge with words from Psalm 90 in the Book of Common Prayer expressed triumphant faith. The overlapping lines and the careful combination of the verses with lines from the hymn O God our help in ages past made this a perfect ending for an evening of stunning music.

 Conductors, Paul Trepte, Mark Williams, Geoffrey Webber and Sarah MacDonald, organists Jonathan Lilley and Oliver Hancock and trumpeter Malachy Frame and the choirs are to be congratulated for one of the finest, most awe-inspiring concerts of the season.

Rosemary Westwell 

Review: of ‘O Winter Wonderland’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 10th December 2012.

December 11, 2011

The girls, boys and gentlemen of Ely Cathedral Choirs accompanied by 78RPM and conducted by Paul Trepte I Ely Cathedral presented and intriguing concert under the title of ‘Winter Wonderland’. Indeed the song of that title was sung by the choirs and the imagination indeed was stimulated to conjure up delightful pictures in the mind of a cold winter’s night, the ground glistening with snow, the sky filled with sparkling stars. This was all possible because of the amazingly wonderful sound these singers produce.

However, the evening was not the traditional one expected. The carols that looked like the same old favourites we can join in with every year had changed! Was there no end to the versatility of these performers.  Inspired by the band, the carols assumed a new lively, jazzy character. At first, it appeared that all tradition had been cast aside, but, of course, carols per se used to be lively dances and such alteration may not have been so drastic as one may have first thought.

Traditional carols given fresh rhythmic drive included ‘O Come all Ye Faithful’, ‘God Rest you Merry’, ‘Silent Night’, and ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. Other favourite seasonal songs included ‘Let it snow’, ‘White Christmas’,’ Drummer Boy’, ‘Mary had a Baby’, ‘Chestnuts Roasting’, ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Santa Baby’, ‘Shepherds in the fields abiding’, ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, ‘Joy to the World’, ’Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’, ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ and ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’. … Paul Trepte certainly gave the items momentum as he drove the singer on with vigorous momentum that matched the band. There were moments of sheer choral beauty that we are used to hearing in Ely Cathedral and these were particularly noticeable in ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Mary’s Boy Child’

Rosemary Westwell

(the entire review may be read on