Archive for July, 2012

Review of ‘The Gentlemen of St John’s College, Cambridge: From Byrd to the Beatles’ on 23rd June 2012 in the Hayward Theatre, The King’s School Ely as part of King’s Ely Nineteenth Concert Society Season.

July 7, 2012

‘The Gentlemen of St John’s College, Cambridge’ drew a large enthusiastic audience to their concert, ‘From Byrd to the Beatles’,  on 23rd June 2012 in the Hayward Theatre Ely. It was part of The King’s School Ely Concert Society Series which always promises talented performers and, as expected, these ten gentlemen gave one of the best concerts we have heard.

The singers featured were Ollie Hunt, Guy James, James Imam, Huw Leslie, Joseph Ataman, Gus Perkins-Ray, Geoff Clapham, Kieran Brunt, Guy Edward-Jones and Director Peter Morton.

Pure, exquisite tones, choral balance and rhythmic ingenuity were the order of the evening. These singers were undoubtedly highly talented experts in the field of unaccompanied ensemble singing.

The programme was well designed and the opening pieces exemplified the sustained beauty of early vocal music. ‘Lamentations of Jeremiah, Part 1’ by  the sixteenth century Thomas Tallis opened the concert with a pure blend of voices and interwoven parts enhancing  the refined serenity of his style. ‘Lugebat David Absalom’ by Nicolas Gombert introduced an underlying sense of momentum and corporate tension associated with particularly successful musical ensembles. Willam Byrd’s ‘Gloria (from Mass for 3 Voices) followed and in this the expressiveness of the varied sections was particularly well delivered by these sensitive performers, matching the words particularly well. ‘Crux Fidelis’ by King John 1V of Portugal contrasted the Byrd with its measured, slow and reverend sound. The more modern sounds of ‘Holy is the True Light’ by the twentieth century William H. Harris were supported with amazing breath control and technique and  ‘Look Down O Lord’ by Jonathan Seers brought forth moments of excitement with delicious use of discord and expressive variety.

Then some of the ensemble walked off the stage to form and ‘antiphonal’ group for ‘Ave Maria’ by Franz Biebl.  It was surprising how this twentieth century composer with all his use of modern techniques created the same reverence and beauty as the familiar Ave Marias from previous centuries. This time the antiphonal answers were not mere copies of the opening phrases, but were integrated meaningfully so that the combined effect was one of warmth, beauty and affection. This was a most impressive and fitting piece to end the first half of the concert.

When the Gentlemen resumed their place on the stage for the second half of the programme, it was clear that they were now going to relax and enjoy more modern music of the people ranging from folk song to teenage ‘Dirtbag’. The charming arrangement of ‘Bushes and Briars’ by Vaughan William flowed magnificently in his inimitable folk-like style. ‘She’s like the Swallow’ arranged by Chilcott followed with its delightful solos and attractive style of arrangement so typical of Chilcott. ‘The Oak and the Ash’ arranged by Gordon Langford and its traditional chordal form contrasted delightfully with the following ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ by Cole Porter. In this song, the humour of the ensemble began to blossom, and the intuitive rhythmical genius of these performers came to the fore in the songs that followed:  ‘With a little help from my friends’, ‘Moon Dance, ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ (with a gorgeous solo), ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, ‘Tears in Heaven’ and ‘I wan’na be like you’. With amazing vocal accompaniments arranged by these talented musicians they showed a strong sense of characterization and musical know-how that made these songs come alive. The encore was justly deserved and sent the audience home with the mesmerizing rhythmic joy of Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t’ (My Baby) recurring in their thoughts.

This was indeed a wonderful evening. The next concert presented by the King’s School Ely Concert Series will be on the 21st of September. For further information contact Lisa Bushell (01353) 653931 email:


Review of the Concerto Concert by the King’s School Ely in the Hayward Theatre on Friday 29th June 2012

July 7, 2012

Ian Sutcliffe is undoubtedly one of the best Directors of Music the King’s School Ely has  enjoyed and his ‘swan song’, a concert featuring the musical ‘stars’ of the school was a most fitting occasion to ‘round off the school year’.

As expected, the standard of these young performers was phenomenal. As young soloists, having the opportunity to share their talent and to perform with an orchestra no doubted added an extra dimension to their experience before some of them leave the world of school and head out into the world to make their mark.

The concert opened with Christiane Lewis playing the lively Allegro maestoso from Mozart’s Flute Concerto in G major.  The clear, pure tone she produced on her flute made the piece sparkle. Kate Collins followed playing ‘Meditation from ‘Thais’ by Massenet on the violin. This young lady shone with phenomenal musicality and the exquisite sounds she coaxed from her instrument were awe-inspiring. She certainly brought this popular piece alive. C.J. Porter-Thaw is one of the school’s most renowned musicians and his performance of Trumpet Concerto Andante and Allegro by Haydn earned him his place as one of King’s School Ely’s finest.

A delightful interlude was provided by some of the Sixth Form Leavers and Scholars: Fern Ashby, Sally Cheng, Maxine Eddleston, Brad Fulford, Ben German, Oliver Hill, Harriette Pink and Henry Sandercock. Conducted by Miss Vanessa Scott, they entertained us delightfully with a fitting excerpt from Mozart’s ‘Cosi fan tutte’. The maturity of their voices and their intuitive musicianship brought balance and meaning to their performance.

Contrast was provided by a smooth, luxurious performance by Ben German on his alto saxophone playing ‘Blues Concerto’ Pastoral by Holcombe. He was ably accompanied by the brass quintet: C.J. Porter-Thaw (trumpet), Elric Doswell (trumpet), Jadz Tooth (trombone), Max Haires-Messenger (French horn), Chris Aniskowvizc (tuba)

A young music student was once asked why they wanted to learn the clarinet. The student replied that it was simply because they liked the sound of the instrument. Luke Cave gave a splendid example of how beautiful and mesmerizing this instrument can be when he performed ‘Five Bagatelles’ Prelude, Romance and Fughetta by Finzi on his clarinet. The Romance was particularly captivating while the Fughetta demonstrated an amazing technique.

These talented performances were enhanced by the high standard of the orchestra led by Helen Medlock and conducted by Ian Sutcliffe.

This was a most delightful musical occasion on such a warm summer’s evening — one that will no doubt be remembered by all participants in time to come.


Review Ely Consort’s ‘Music for a Royal Celebration’ 3oth June 2012 The Parish Church, Chatteris

July 7, 2012

Ely Consort and Director Matthew Rudd certainly know how to put on a splendid concert and ‘Music for a Royal Celebration’ was no exception. In conjunction with an excellent chamber orchestra, the Con Brio orchestra, and some fine soloists, Catriona Clark (soprano), Ashley Harris (alto), Sam Dressel (tenor) and Dominick Sedgwick (bass), these fine musicians brought well-known celebratory works to life. 

The perhaps less well known mass:  ‘Theresienmesse’  by Haydn opened the evening and it’s positive almost cheerful qualities made it a very fitting opening for such an upbeat event. There were many moments of special warmth and bright and lively tapestries of sound well contrasted well with some more serious notes of darkness or affirmative conviction. The soloists were particularly charismatic and well matched.

One item that was a must for an event like this was ‘I was Glad’ by Parry. We have heard this piece a number of times already this season, and this performance was one of the best. The power these performers emanated filled Chatteris Parish Church magnificently.

Light relief was offered by a charming performance of Handel’s ‘Air from The Water Music Suite’ by the Con Brio string players. Then the choir and full orchestra gave a full-blooded performance of ‘Zadok the Priest’ by Handel – the opening particularly potent and strong. 

Another ‘must-have’ for this type of concert was Handel’s ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ and the Con Brio orchestra did it proud. More very appropriate choral works followed: ‘Coronation Gloria’ by Sir Charles Stanford. ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ by Parry and the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ by Handel.

Catriona Clark was particularly impressive in the ‘Coronation Gloria’ while in ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ there were particularly impressive moments of precision and times when this choir obviously revelled in the its glorious sounds.

A musical performance of the ‘Hallelujah’ Chorus was indeed an excellent way to end this most enjoyable evening and was a fitting example to demonstrate that this choir is no ‘ordinary’ choir – it is by far one of the best in the area. I look forward to their performance in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel on Saturday 1st December.

The concert was presented by Chatteris Music Society and their next concert will feature an outstanding 11-year old pianist, George Harliono, who will play works by Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Chopin and Debussy on Saturday 1st September at 3 pm in Chatteris Parish Church. Contact: 01354 669104/692009

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