REVIEW: ‘O Come, Come, Emmanuel’ by Ely Choral Society and Ely Youth Choir is a splendid concert

Dr Will and his son

Dr Will and his son - Credit: Archant

The concert given by Ely Choral Society and Ely Youth Choir on Saturday December 3 at St. Mary’s Church Ely was splendid.

Dr Wills speaking after his work had been performed

Dr Wills speaking after his work had been performed - Credit: Archant

The title: ‘O Come, Come, Emmanuel’ indicated the nature of this interesting programme which focused on Advent rather than the usual Christmas Carols and readings.

The first work by Alan Bullard was written for Selwyn Chapel Choir which our own Sarah McDonald directs. (Sarah is also director of Ely Cathedral’s Girls’ Choir). The opening of the prelude was based on the familiar hymn ‘O come, O come Emanuel’ and the first phrase recurred regularly, making the whole piece that took up the first half of the progamme a cohesive whole.

The choirs under the baton of Andrew Parnell and accompanied on the organ by Edmund Aldhouse, were impressive. The adult choir voices were balanced beautifully and the youth choir’s singing was positively charming.

A very attractive piece by Andrew Parnell, ‘Advent Tidings’, opened the second part of the programme and the choirs really came alive. One of the loveliest performances was the full choir singing ‘Sing of a Maiden’ by Tim Alban Jones. Of the works sung by the Youth Choir, ‘Waiting for the Word’ was particularly impressive.


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Moments for audience participation which was remarkably successful under the guidance of Andrew enhanced the evening.

The culmination of the programme was ‘That Wondrous Birthday’ by Ely-composer Arthur Wills who was present at the time. Andrew spoke glowingly of Arthur who came forward to express his delight at the performance: ‘Wonderful!’ he said. Arthur’s intriguing sense of atmosphere and unique arrangements of traditional music were fascinating.

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This was indeed a wonderful concert.

The next performance by Ely Choral Society is on 8th April in Ely Cathedral singing ‘Messiah’ by Handel. Contact: www.elychoralsociety.org

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