REVIEW by Rosemary Westwell: Ely Choral Society’s Christmas Concert: ‘Magnificat’ in St Mary’s Church, Ely

Andrew Parnell

Andrew Parnell - Credit: Archant

Ely Choral Society started Christmas well for us again. As I was leaving St. Mary’s Church many of the Christmas tunes kept recurring as I remembered this grand evening.

The concert opened with a performance of Bach’s impressive work: ‘Magnificat’, which featured a number of choir members as the soloists. The opening was especially imposing as these experienced resonant voices rang out with the opening word: ‘Magnificat’. It was magnificent indeed.

After a welcome drink and mince pie at the interval, we were entertained by Ely Choral Society and Ely Youth Choir singing some delightful carols, some old, some new, interspersed with some delightful readings and many opportunities for us to join in with their wonderful singing.

The highlights for me were moments when the real talent and beauty of the choir came to the fore, especially in the second half of the programme. Some of the most delightful carols had been written by choir members. Keith Bennett’s ‘Christe Redemption Omnium’ was particularly well constructed and brought out the best in the choir, which sang with exquisitely smooth, well-blended phrases.

Ely Youth Choir was wonderful when it sang ‘When Christ was born of Mary Free’ by John Gardner and ‘When a Child is Born’ by Zacar arranged by A. Simmons.

Edmund Aldhouse accompanied admirably on the church organ throughout the evening, except when the Ely Choral Society sang unaccompanied and the choir’s performance of ‘A Babe is Born’ by Robin Wells and ‘Sleep, little Jesus’ by Mark Liversidge was exquisite.

The next event to look forward to is on Saturday 19th March when Schubert’s ‘Mass in B flat’ and Rossini’s ‘Stabat Mater’ will be played in Ely Cathedral with conductor Andrew Parnell and also featuring Edmund Aldhouse (organ) and Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra.

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