Review concert: ‘The Carnival of the Animals’ 

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings

What an amazing finale to the Ely Arts Festival this year!

On Friday 1st July, Ely Cathedral was packed. There were 300 children on stage with a full orchestra (including pianists), the conductor, Chris Parsons, and a fine soloist, Betty Jones. 

The driving force behind the concert was Chris Parsons and he must have spent hours working towards this splendid evening’s entertainment.  It was time well worth spending.  

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings

The concert opened with a wonderful surprise. We were expecting to see the children wearing their fantastic animal masks parade down the aisle of the nave in Ely Cathedral to take their places on stage in the octagon.

However, when I turned round to see the children, I was amazed to be met with a huge creature - that was the Ely Eel. It was spectacular indeed. 

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings

The programme of music was most fitting and included movements from the ‘Carnival of the Animals’ by Saint Saens, 'the Lion King', and the 'Jungle Book'. Other pieces included: ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ by Solomon Linda, ‘Walking the Dog’ by George Gershwin, and the premiere of ‘The Eel’ by Jonathan Brigg.  

This new piece had striking themes and featured brass instruments to reflect the majesty of this creature

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The best part for me was when Chris had everyone joining in with movements to create the sounds of jungle rain. With his infectious joy there were very few of us who could not help joining in the hand clapping, the clicking of fingers, the knee slapping or thumping of feet under his direction. 

The choirs that took part came from Ely College, Ely St John’s, Ely St Mary’s, the Lantern, Littleport Community, primary schools from the Rackham, Stretham, Sutton and Wilburton, and Witchford Village College. Their wonderful, jubilant voices added considerable vitality to this exciting evening. 

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings

The soloist was clear and strong, giving an edge to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and the orchestra which contained professionals and sometimes students from the City of Ely College, was magnificent.

The pianists, Jonathan Brigg and Tom Nichol, were highly skilled and raced across the keys with accuracy and abandonment in the finale of the ‘Carnival of the Animals’.  

We were treated to a calm, serene break with Glenn Demspey playing ‘The Swan’ on the church organ.  

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings

This evening was highly successful and it not only gave the children a chance to enjoy the thrill of taking part in a huge musical event, but it gave some of them a chance to hear a live orchestra and to be in Ely Cathedral for the first time.  

We look forward to a similar spectacular evening next year!

You can watch a snippet of the evening via this link -  https://fb.watch/e3HaGkuvmG/ 

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022.

'The Carnival of Animals' took place at Ely Cathedral on July 1 to mark the finale of Ely Arts Festival 2022. - Credit: James Billings