Concert reviews & photos

Carmina Burana ~ 29th March 2014

Date: Saturday 29th March, 2014
Venue: The Hayward Theatre, The King’s School, Ely
Programme: Tippett, Negro Sprituals & Carmina Burana
Featuring: Ely Consort, conducted by Matthew Rudd with….

Claire & Antoinette Cann ~ international duo-pianists
Clare Lloyd-Griffiths ~ soprano
Ashley Harries ~ counter-tenor
Ricardo Panela ~ baritone
Sam Mitchell ~ bass & Martin Kenward ~ tenor
Will Sivier & King’s School Ely ~ Percussion
Hazel Laws – Musical Director & Ely St Mary’s CofE Junior School Choir

The powerful opening of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is one of the most instantly recognisable pieces of music of all time. The complete work was performed by the combined forces of Ely Consort, St Mary’s Primary School Choir, percussionists from the King’s School, and a star line up of soloists: Clare Lloyd Griffiths (soprano), Ashley Harries (alto) and Ricardo Panela (baritone), all accompanied by the brilliant international duo-pianists Antoinette and Claire Cann. The cast of one hundred musicians brought this most vivid of choral pieces to life in spectacular fashion.

In the first half of the concert, Ely Consort sang Tippett’s moving arrangement of spirituals from A Child of our Time; and repeating their recentperformance at London’s Barbican Centre in the Barnardo’s National Choir Competition, St Mary’s Choir sang their two competition songs. Antoinette and Claire also performed Lutosławski’s their dazzling Variations on a theme of Paganini.


Photographs: Meleah Reardon


Music for Anniversaries & Advent ~ 30th November 2013 ~ St Andrew’s Church, Soham

Date: Saturday 30th November, 2013
Venue: St Andrew’s Church, Soham
Programme: Music for Anniversaries & Advent
Featuring: Ely Consort with Edmund Aldhouse & the brand new organ of St. Andrew’s, Soham

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 the evening perfectly.


Rosemary Westwell


Zimbe! with Burwell Village College and Stephen Perse Foundation

Date: Saturday 9th March, 2013
Venue: St Mary’s Church, Burwell
Programme: American Music & Zimbe!, Alexander L’Estrange
Featuring: Ely Consort with Children from Burwell Village College Year 6, Junior Choir and musicians from Stephen Perse Foundation, and Jonathan Lilley on piano.

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

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.

Rosemary Westwell




400 Years of Choral Music ~ 1st December 2012 ~ Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral

Date: Saturday 1st December, 2012
Venue: Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral
Programme: 400 Years of Choral Music
Organ: Jonathan Lilley

Rosemary Westwell: Review Ely Consort’s ‘400 Years of Choral Music’ 1st December 2012 Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral

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 (see below) 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. 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.

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.



Music for a Royal Celebration ~ 30th June 2012 ~ Chatteris

Date: Saturday 30th June, 2012
Venue: Chatteris Parish Church
Programme: Music for a Royal Celebration
Guest Soloists: Catriona Clark, Ashley Harries, Sam Dressel, Dominic Sedgwick
Organ: Oliver Hancock

Rosemary Westwell: Review Ely Consort’s ‘Music for a Royal Celebration’ 30th June 2012 The Parish Church, Chatteris

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 Dominic 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


Christmas Concert: Chippenham 2009

Date: Saturday 5th Decemeber, 2009
Venue: St Margaret’s, Chippenham
Programme: Traditional evening of ‘Music for Advent & Christmas’
Guest Soloists: Countertenor-Robert Cross
Organ: Sam Hayes


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