REVIEW: Ely Choral Society deliver splendid concert at Ely Cathedral

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:40 23 October 2018

Conductor Andrew Parnell, clarinet player Koren Wilmer and Mayor of Ely, Cllr Mike Rouse.

Conductor Andrew Parnell, clarinet player Koren Wilmer and Mayor of Ely, Cllr Mike Rouse.

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Ely Choral Society, clarinet soloist Koren Wilmer, baritone soloist Jonathan Midgley, organist Edmund Aldhouse and conductor/accompanist Andrew Parnell gave a splendid concert in Ely Cathedral on Saturday.

Cllr Peter Cresswell, chairman of East Cambs District Council, Rosilyn and John Wintle, who commissioned a new choral work from Andrew Parnell. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.Cllr Peter Cresswell, chairman of East Cambs District Council, Rosilyn and John Wintle, who commissioned a new choral work from Andrew Parnell. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.

Under the expert baton of Andrew we were given a programme of magnificent pieces, some very familiar and stirring, others more reverent and serene.

The choir filled the cathedral vaults with glorious sounds in some of the more traditional, triumphant works. Highlights from the choir included the opening ‘Give unto the Lord’ by Edward Elgar, ‘Antiphon’ in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘Five Mystical Songs’ and the final ‘Zadok the Priest’ by Handel .

‘Give unto the Lord’ was a splendid opening work and was robust, joyous and dramatic at times, the choir also expressing beautifully the sentiments of the piece.

Andrew Parnell conducted and Koren Wilmer played the clarinet. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.Andrew Parnell conducted and Koren Wilmer played the clarinet. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.

The ‘Antiphon’ was amazing, the choir revelling in the familiar, rousing strains of ‘Let all the world in every corner sing’. This item certainly had the ‘wow’ factor.

The final ‘Zadok the Priest’ was a most fitting ending to this magnificent concert and I can tell you that these wonderful sopranos reached that top note at the opening perfectly.

The organist Edmund Aldhouse was excellent and when one plays as well as he does, it is so easy for us to accept and ignore the hours of diligent practice that goes into preparing for concerts such as these.

Ely Choral Society deliver splendid concert at Ely Cathedral. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.Ely Choral Society deliver splendid concert at Ely Cathedral. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.

Edmund supported and led the other performers splendidly, exploring the organ’s capabilities fully as required. His organ solo ‘Toccata from Plymouth Suite’ by Percy Whitlock was most impressive.

Extra variety and interest was provided by the soloists. Clarinettist Koren Wilmer and baritone Jonathan Midgley were fine, sensitive musicians who added more of the professional touch.

Koren’s tone, exquisitely-shaped phrasing, and clear tonguing brought her pieces alive.

Ely Choral Society deliver splendid concert at Ely Cathedral. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.Ely Choral Society deliver splendid concert at Ely Cathedral. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.

Andrew’s composition, ‘Everyone Sang’ premiered this evening, brought clarinet, choir and organ together very attractively and they created the drama of Siegfried Sassoon’s words splendidly.

The bird-like sounds in the clarinet were especially realistic.

The moment Jonathan Midgley first sang he was obviously a winner.

Andrew Parnell conducted and Koren Wilmer played the clarinet. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.Andrew Parnell conducted and Koren Wilmer played the clarinet. Picture: MIKE ROUSE.

His superb voice carried well into the cathedral, his presence giving a sense of professional ease and charm that I have rarely witnessed in others.

This was indeed a splendid concert.

The next event to look forward to is Ely Choral Society’s ‘The Joys of Christmas’ in St Mary’s Church Ely on December 8.

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