REVIEW: Ely Choral Society’s carol concert ‘The Joys of Christmas’ was one of their best

Colin Wills with his father, Dr Arthur Wills, a patron of Ely Choral Society, and the conductor Andr

Colin Wills with his father, Dr Arthur Wills, a patron of Ely Choral Society, and the conductor Andrew Parnell. Picture: ROSEMARY WESTWELL. - Credit: Archant

The packed church of St Mary’s in Ely was treated to a real taste of Christmas on Saturday December 8.

Ely Choral Society’s concert ‘The Joys of Christmas’ was one of their best.

Under the expert directorship of Andrew Parnell, the choir’s strong, stirring, masterful voices rang out the Christmas message clearly and with great joy.

The audience was a very willing partner in singing their carols: ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Sussex Carol’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Unto us is Born a Son’, and ‘O Come all ye Faithful’.

The large choir sang a worthy set of songs in the programme and the highlights of these for me were: ‘Gaudate’, ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ and ‘The Infant King’.

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‘Gaudate’, a wonderful, powerful opening to the concert, was sung with clarity, precision, varied contrasts and inspired fervour. This set the tone for this marvellous evening.

Ely Youth Choir acquitted themselves very well, their young voices clear and true. Of the songs it sang, the highlight for me was a charming performance of ‘Light of the World’ by J Dankworth.

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Some of the carols were unaccompanied which suited the high standard these fine choirs have now reached.

Those that were accompanied were expertly supported by Edmund Aldhouse who will be taking over Paul Trepte’s role as director of music at Ely Cathedral next year.

Needless to say, Edmund’s performance was impeccable, joyous and above all acutely sensitive to the singers.

The evening was well planned, with the first half including the delightfully approachable and attractive ‘Christmas Cantata’ by Geoffrey Bush.

After mince pies and drinks during the interval, the second half of the programme contained highly entertaining readings on the Christmas theme in between choir and audience carols.

This was indeed a splendid concert.

The next concert by Ely Choral Society to enjoy will be on Saturday April 13 in Ely Cathedral.

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