Hundreds of singers and musicians capture ‘Spirit of the Fens’ at concert

The 'Spirit of the Fens’ concert took place at Ely Cathedral on Sunday June 20 as part of Ely Arts Festvial.

The 'Spirit of the Fens’ concert took place at Ely Cathedral on Sunday June 20 as part of Ely Arts Festvial. - Credit: Copyright 2021 Andrew Wilkinson All Rights Reserved

Hundreds of singers and musicians - including a 13-piece orchestra and 220 school children - captured the ‘Spirit of the Fens’ at Ely Arts Festival’s concert.

On Saturday June 19, the audience in Ely Cathedral enjoyed a programme of live and virtual performances coordinated by artistic director Chris Parsons.

The evening included moving renditions of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' and 'Sing!' as well as the premieres of newly-composed scores by Chris Leedham and David Sims.

These were performed against the backdrop of drone footage, capturing the iconic buildings and landscape around Ely.

'Fen Stitch Together’ Community quilt, which was produced by artist Louise Beale.

The 'Spirit of the Fens’ concert took place at Ely Cathedral on Sunday June 20 as part of Ely Arts Festival. The concert also featured the unveiling of the ‘Fen Stitch Together’ Community quilt, which was produced by artist Louise Beale. - Credit: ELY ARTS FESTIVAL

Lantivet Duo, a professional violin and piano-playing couple, performed two short sets featuring an eclectic mix of music from the 18th century, folk music and live looping compositions inspired by Balinese gamelan.


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There was also a 13-piece orchestra performing live made up of local musicians.

The Ely Arts Festival committee said: "We overcame the odds to pull the concert together, with the support of Ely Cathedral.

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"We were particularly delighted to have involved over 220 school children from local primary and secondary schools, who had worked with Chris Parsons in the lead-up to the concert to learn and perform the songs so they could be recorded for the event."

These performances, along with recordings from Sing Choirs and the Ely Cathedral Girl Choristers were presented on screens.

Chris Parsons said: “We wanted to bring together an exciting mix of projects that have taken place across Ely during the lockdowns to showcase that the arts didn’t stop.

"The concert featured everything from classical music through to pop songs and dance routines, hopefully something for everyone to enjoy.

Fen Stitch Together’ Community quilt, which was produced by artist Louise Beale.

The 'Spirit of the Fens’ concert took place at Ely Cathedral on Sunday June 20 as part of Ely Arts Festival. The concert also featured the unveiling of the ‘Fen Stitch Together’ Community quilt, which was produced by artist Louise Beale. - Credit: Andrew Wilkinson Photography

"To be able to reach so many school children and local musicians even in these challenging times is such an important part of our work as a festival.

"We pushed technology to the limits combining the 250 strong virtual performers with the live instrumentalists in two pieces ‘Sing’ by Gary Barlow and ‘The Spirit of the Fens’ by Nils Greenhow, a piece that highlights the beauty of where we live.

"Next year we hope that we can invite all the performers who played and sung virtually this year to join us in person."

The Ely Arts Festival Committee also thanked the festival sponsors; Lovewell Blake Accountants, Silver Oak Coffee, Poet’s House and Busybee Recruitment for their support.

The concert also featured the unveiling of the ‘Fen Stitch Together’ Community quilt, which was produced by artist Louise Beale.

She sewed together hundreds of patches created by school children and community members.

It will be viewable again at the Jubilee Jamboree event on June 26 and is looking for a more permanent home.

The performance was livestreamed and the recording is available on Ely Cathedral’s YouTube page.

The Ely Arts Festival continues with Jubilee Jamboree in Jubilee Gardens on June 26 from 10.30am to 3pm and Suitcase Shakespeare, also in Jubilee Gardens, on Sunday June 27. 

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