Ely Cathedral set to be venue for performance of bawdy 13th century student songs

Ely Sinfonia

Ely Sinfonia - Credit: Archant

Local adult and children’s choirs will come together with Ely Sinfonia for a big community concert to celebrate the joys of living, taking place in Ely Cathedral on October 24.

More than 100 singers from Ely Consort, King’s Lynn Festival Chorus, the Ely Youth Choir and Ely St Mary’s School choir will join Ely Sinfonia and soloists Tara Bungard (soprano), Ashley Harries (countertenor) and Tom Appleton (baritone) to perform Carl Orff’s spectacular “Carmina Burana”.

This infamous piece will be familiar to many people because of its use in countless advertisements and films.

It is based on a collection of bawdy 13th century student songs from Austria, celebrating such unmonklike earthly delights as drinking, gambling, dancing and lovemaking, but also including some poems written to be morally uplifting.

Steve Bingham, Ely Sinfonia’s artistic director and conductor, says: “We are thrilled that so many local musicians are taking part in what will be a highly exhilarating event. In total, there will be at least 175 people on stage.”

He continues: “Ely Sinfonia is committed to fostering a love of music and performance in East Cambridgeshire and this concert will allow us to bring the whole community together in the Cathedral, which is a magnificent venue.”

Carmina Burana marked a complete change in Carl Orff’s musical style. As he said himself: “Everything I have written to date can be destroyed. With Carmina Burana, my collected works begin.”

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It uses a very large orchestra with a huge percussion section, including five timpani, two snare drums, a bass drum, triangle, cymbals, suspended cymbal, antique cymbals, ratchet, castanets, tambourine, sleigh bells, tam-tam, tubular bells, three bells, three glockenspiels, gong, xylophone, as well as two pianos and a celeste. It was originally designed for the stage, with dancing and mime accompanying the music.

The concert begins with two other, equally evocative pieces. Avoided by many opera singers as cursed or jinxed, Giuseppe Verdi’s “Force of Destiny” overture is well known from the use of its main theme in two French films, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources.

Sung by local soprano Tara Bungard, Jean Canteloube’s “Songs of the Auvergne” is a delightful collection of folk songs from central France. The songs were written in the local language, Occitan, and the best known is the “Baïlèro”, which has been frequently recorded and performed.

Tickets start at just £7.50 (unreserved) and rise to £22.50 (premium), and are available from Ely Cathedral Box Office (01353 660349, email box.office@cathedral.ely.anglican.org and online from https://tickets.elycathedral.org.

About Ely Sinfonia

Ely Sinfonia is the first ever high quality ensemble to be based in Ely. Launched in November 1999, it is made up of players of all ages and backgrounds, including school and college students, business professionals, retired individuals and local music teachers. The orchestra plays a wide range of music, from contemporary to mainstream, and has commissioned its own pieces as well as showcasing the work of young musicians such as the Cambridge Young Composer of the Year. Ely Sinfonia gives three or four full orchestral concerts every year and, in addition, provides smaller groups to play at events such as the Easter Day mass in Ely Cathedral. Teaching is a vital part of the orchestra’s mission and it runs annual training days and workshops for less experienced players and students, coached by professionals.

Ely Sinfonia was founded by a consortium of local arts organisations, led by ADeC (Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire), to become a beacon of excellence as East Cambridgeshire’s own community orchestra. It has more than lived up to this, particularly since local celebrity violinist, Steve Bingham, took over as artistic director.

Press Enquiries

For further information, please contact Patricia Mathieson, Ely Sinfonia, May Tree House, 32 High Street, Wicken, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 5XR Tel: 01353 721991 Email: publicity@elysinfonia.co.uk.