REVIEW: Edmund Aldhouse’s musical accompaniment to silent movie at Ely Cathedral is ‘delightful’

Edmund Aldhouse

Edmund Aldhouse - Credit: Archant

On entering Ely Cathedral for my first silent movie in that magnificent building, the atmosphere was both warm and inviting.

I was certainly looking forward to a grand night at the movies, with musical genius, Edmund Aldhouse, accompanying on that splendid Ely Cathedral organ.

I was not disappointed.

For seventy minutes we were held spellbound, roaring with laughter at Buster Keaton’s antics in the film ‘Steamboat Bill Jnr’, while Edmund’s playing rose and fell with the emotions and drama of the typical plot: gauche young boy, son of a poor steamboat owner falls in love with wealthy ship magnet’s daughter.

All seems impossible for their love to blossom, but after a run of dramatic disasters and accidents waiting to happen, and then happening even more ingeniously than expected, they all live happily ever after.


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None of the drama, excitement and humour would have been possible without Edmund’s contribution.

While he cleverly wove his own continuous texture with carefully designed motifs for the different characters, he also read our minds and as we witnessed various typical scenes, strains of music that we might have imagined ourselves drifted into the cathedral.

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There was the lad asleep in his bed in the morning, when I could have sworn we heard excerpts of Grieg’s composition of the same name.

One of the most delightful take-offs was when Buster Keaton was battling with an umbrella in the rainstorm to strains of ‘Singing in the Rain’ woven seamlessly in the stream of Edmund’s performance.

Other gems we thought we discerned were Grieg’s Piano Concerto, the Skye boat song and Don Quixote and I am sure these are only a few of them.

This was a splendid idea for a different kind of organ recital and we were told this is just one of a series planned in the near future.

I can’t wait to hear what is coming next.

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