Ely Choral Society to host English sung concert in Ely Cathedral

Andrew Parnell conducts the Bach St John Passion at Ely Cathedral and Rogers Covey-Crump, who perfor

Andrew Parnell conducts the Bach St John Passion at Ely Cathedral and Rogers Covey-Crump, who performs as the Evangelist. - Credit: Archant

The St John Passion: the harpsichord was ancient, its organ hadn’t been serviced for more than three decades and the overhead choir stall was so unstable that there was a real danger it would crash to the floor.

Since that first performance in 1724 the St John has raised more than mere passion for the mighty resonance of the simple story at its churning heart.

Tickets are already selling well for one of the highlights of Ely Cathedral’s Passiontide events on Friday March 24.

Conductor Andrew Parnell believes the fact that it’s sung in English will ensure a new audience for the work; that and its setting in the cathedral’s heart.

“An intimate work like the St John Passion, in which story-telling is central, benefits enormously from being staged within nave of Ely Cathedral,” he said.”

In the Monteverdi Vespers and last year’s Messiah the performers and the audience had a more intimate and inclusive experience.’

“The exacting role of the Evangelist, that storyteller who watches as the emotions of the crowd turn from adoration to condemnation as Jesus is led to his own inescapable passion, is taken in this performance by Rogers Covey-Crump.

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“Rogers is already one of the country’s best-known exponents of the role.

“The drama of the St John is sustained throughout.

“Christ is of course the central figure. I like to be placed to one side; Christ and Pilate are centre stage.’

“The crowd itself is brought to chilling existence by members of the Ely Choral Society.”

Joining Rogers as the Evangelist are a group of superb young oratorio and opera performers and the piece is bound together by the Chameleon Arts Baroque Orchestra playing a variety of period instruments.

Finally, Edmund Aldhouse takes on the marathon of providing the Passion’s organ continuo.

For a performance at the Proms Cannon Dr Giles Fraser described the St John as filmic, creepy, modern and dramatic.

This event too will provide its audience with a liturgy that demands we take sides as we watch our own existence called into question.

This promises to be a special performance sung in English and taking full advantage of the wonderful acoustic of the nave of the Cathedral.

Tickets, £5 for under 18s to £25 general admission, are available by calling Ely Cathedral Box Office on 01353 660349 or online via the cathedral’s website: