REVIEW: Ely Sinfonia deliver a ‘truly magnificent’ concert at Ely Cathedral

PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 October 2018

Ely Sinfonia performing at Ely Cathedral. Photo: SUKIE RIX.

Ely Sinfonia performing at Ely Cathedral. Photo: SUKIE RIX.

Archant

The 100th anniversary performance of the planets, held at Ely Cathedral last Saturday, was truly magnificent.

Ely Sinfonia composer Phil Toms, East Cambs District Council chairman councillor Peter Cresswell and his wife Rosilyn, councillors Sheila and Jeremy Friend Smith, and Mayor of Ely, Councillor Mike Rouse.Ely Sinfonia composer Phil Toms, East Cambs District Council chairman councillor Peter Cresswell and his wife Rosilyn, councillors Sheila and Jeremy Friend Smith, and Mayor of Ely, Councillor Mike Rouse.

It is easy to see why the concert was sold out with more than 700 seats being sold.

What a fantastic venue to experience the Ely Sinfonia, conducted by Steve Bingham, as a full orchestra playing such contrasting phrases as delicate shimmering high notes, and thrilling deep notes which vibrated through the whole body.

The concert opened with the first performance of Phil Toms ‘Great war Overture’.

Steve Bingham with Ely Sinfonia during the concert at Ely Cathedral. Photo: MIKE ROUSE.Steve Bingham with Ely Sinfonia during the concert at Ely Cathedral. Photo: MIKE ROUSE.

This piece was cleverly chosen to contrast with Holst’s ‘Mars, bringer of war’ the first of the planets to be played after the interval.

For a modern work, this piece was surprisingly approachable starting with a loud gladiatorial march, with a wistful middle section played in a minor key.

The whole impression was one of a noble, patriotic war, whereas ‘Mars’ was sinister and menacing.

The composer was in the audience, and came to accept the following applause.

After the interval we heard Holst’s ‘The Planets’ which was played with great passion by ‘Ely Sinfonia’, with the ‘Neptune chorus’ singing the earie wordless ending to ‘Neptune, the Mystic’. The whole piece was moving and full of contrast.

‘Mars the bringer of war’, as mentioned before, threatening; ‘Venus, the bringer of peace ’ - warm and soothing; ‘Mercury’ - delicate and darting; ‘Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity’.

Full of glorious tunes so good that one has become the patriotic hymn ‘I vow to thee my country’; ‘Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age’ - Relentless ticking away of time; ‘Uranus, the Magician’ - with brass, bassoons, trumpets and tubas reminiscent of séances; and ending with the quiet and mysterious ‘Neptune, the Mystic’.

After the hushed silence ending ‘The Planets’ there was riotous applause after which we were treated to an encore of Elgar’s Nimrod.

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