Review: Celebration of Male Voices in Ely Cathedral was a pure delight says our critic

THE Celebration of Male Voices in Ely Cathedral on Saturday was a wonderful way to mark the 50th anniversary of Huntingdon Male Voice Choir. This fine choir, directed by Peter Davies, was joined by a number of other choirs and their respective conductors and accompanists.

The overall sound this mass of male voices produced was delightful. Local highly regarded musicians, Prime Brass, soprano Kate Woolf with accompanist Paul Bryan, and Cathedral assistant organist Jonathan Lilley also added style to this wonderful evening.

Most noticeable was the spine-chilling beauty of these 290 singers when they held their musical line in one long sustained soft sound. This was particularly apparent in the wonderful arrangement of the National Anthem by Edmund Walters, Lily of the Valley arranged by E. Jones and Be still for the presence of the Lord by David J. Evans, arranged by Peter Davies.

Prime Brass presented some amazing items, including Britten’s Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury, The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel, and Chris Hazell’s Three Brass Cats.

Kate Woolf sang delightfully, her lovely soprano voice giving colour, emotion and cohesion to her songs: three spirituals arranged and accompanied by Paul Bryan, as well as I feel so Pretty and A Simple Song by Bernstein.

One of the most impressive items was Jonathan Lilley’s grand performance of William Walton’s Crown Imperial, a most appropriate contribution to the event. The joint choirs culminated the concert with glorious sounds when giving full voice to Old Hundredth (W.Kethe, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams) and Festival piece on Sine Nomine by R. Vaughan Williams and W.M. Howe.

Rosemary Westwell