REVIEW: Ely Choral Society’s summer concert at the Hayward Theatre in Ely

Ely Choral Societys summer concert at the Hayward Theatre in Ely. Pictured is Andrew Parnell, Thanea

Ely Choral Societys summer concert at the Hayward Theatre in Ely. Pictured is Andrew Parnell, Thanea Hodges and Maurice Hodges, and Kimberleigh Hewson and Charles Schneider. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

This must be one of Ely Choral Society’s most interesting concerts.

A fascinating mixture of lively intriguing pieces made up the programme and it was impressive to note that the choir willingly tackled singing in other languages too.

The quality of the music overall was first class. Ely Choral Society was in fine voice, as expected, and Ely Youth Choir was a real highlight of the evening.

In the opening work, ‘Liebeslieder Waltzes’ by Johannes Brahms, Ely Choral Society produced a wide variety of expressions ranging from charming and bird-like imitations to tearful and frustrated cries of loneliness or thwarted love.

Their diction was particularly good. They were accompanied by Thanea and Maurice Hodges who were excellent pianists.

Later in the programme they played Richard Rodney Bennett’s ‘Samba Triste’, ‘Country Blues’ and ‘Tempo di hard rock’ with great expertise and panache.

In ‘Misa Criolla’ by Ariel Ramirez Charles Schneider, tenor, gave a splendid performance. He created a strong sense of the Spanish passion and darkness that underlines the messages of the mass.

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His expression and breath control were amazing. In this piece the percussion under the directorship of Will Sivier came to the fore.

There part was not merely decorative but they had a major role in creating the mood underlying the movements that they conveyed superbly.

Ely Youth Choir accompanied by Paul Stephenson really came to life, their singing strong and harmonies secure and well blended.

The Soloist, Kimberleigh Hewson, was particularly impressive and their whole group of songs were vivacious explorations of delightfully jazzy rhythms or beautifully shaped and expressed moments of musical delight.

Their songs included ‘Summertime’ from ‘Porgy and Bess’ by Gershwin, ‘Seed to Sew’ by M. Smith arranged by R. Emerson, ‘I know where I’ve been from ‘Hairspray’ by M.

Shaimann arranged by M. Huff and ‘I don’t mean a thing’ by Duke Ellington arranged by C. Beale. Their section in the concert ended with a flourish, the singers’ actions adding to the already vivid and joyful performance.

The final ‘Rio Grande’ by Sacheverell Sitwell was little like the school song we all know, it had much more to it and as both choirs joined the pianists and the percussionists we were spellbound.

This was an excellent concert. Ely Choral Society’s next event will be a concert of English Choral Classics on Saturday October 20 7.30 pm at Ely Cathedral.