REVIEW:'A Celebration of Peace' in Ely Cathedral

PUBLISHED: 11:24 10 July 2018

James Billings photographed the Celebration of Peace concert at Ely Cathedral on July 4. The evening culminated with a minute's silence as poppies fell from the Octagon Tower. PHOTO: James Billings Photography.

James Billings photographed the Celebration of Peace concert at Ely Cathedral on July 4. The evening culminated with a minute's silence as poppies fell from the Octagon Tower. PHOTO: James Billings Photography.

Archant

Ely Cathedral was a magnificent setting for the 'A Celebration of Peace' to commemorate the end of WW1.

Mark South from A Celebration of Peace.Mark South from A Celebration of Peace.

The whole event was a masterpiece of music and of organization.

This mammoth concert held us spellbound as we revelled in the unmistakeable style and harmonies of Ralph Vaughan William’s music.

Taking part was a number of choirs: the American Festival Chorus, the Lux Singers, The Rheinland-Pfalz International Choir, The Southern California Mormon Choir, The Stanford Symphonic Chorus, the Texas Children’s Choir, the Variations Chorale, and the Voices of the Commonwealth.

They were accompanied by the East Anglia Chamber Orchestra and organist Edmund Aldhouse.

Edmund Aldhouse (organist) from A Celebration of PeaceEdmund Aldhouse (organist) from A Celebration of Peace

The conductors were the world-famous Stephen Cleobury, and Craig Jessop.

The soloists included Cindy Dewey (soprano), Errik Hood (baritone) and Cory Evans (tenor).

The music conveyed much that words cannot: the pathos and destitution of man at his worst and the depth of feeling that the utter devastation that tragedy can bring.

This is somehow overcome by strong expressions of hope, angelic fervour and the sense of eternity reflected in the huge vaults of the centuries-old cathedral and the inner-soul of the music.

The pieces performed were all by Ralph Vaughan Williams a fitting composer to be associated with WW1, for he served as a medical orderly and was a second lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

However, he generally disliked his works being assumed to be associated with the war, although some connection is thought to exist in his cantata Dona Nobis Pacem.

This wonderful evening culminated with a mass of poppies floating down from above, reflected in the lights of this atmospheric building. The playing of the last post and the reveille haunted the memories of those of us who have been touched by war and its effects.

This was indeed a magnificent ‘Celebration of Peace’.

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