Local Choirs & Orchestra Combine For Concert in Ely Cathedral

Ely Sinfonia


Ely Choral Society, Ely Consort and Ely Sinfonia to perform Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in a concert dedicated to the magical, mysterious Fens

Ely Cathedral, Saturday 15 July 2017, 7.30pm                

For the final, glorious event of the 2017 Isle of Ely Arts Festival, three major local musical organisations are to join forces in a concert that truly evokes the magic and mystery of the Fens and Ely Cathedral.

Ely Choral Society and Ely Sinfonia will be joined by Ely Consort to perform one of the greatest works in the classical music repertoire: Beethoven’s Symphony no 9, as well as two pieces that are steeped in Fenland atmosphere: Vaughan Williams’ In the Fen Country and Fenland Images, a new piece by Andrew Parnell, composed especially for the 2017 Isle of Ely Arts Festival.

The concert will end with presentations to the winners of the Arts Festival short story, poetry and photography competitions, whose work will be on display in the Cathedral’s South Transept.

Sheila Friend-Smith, Chair of the Isle of Ely Arts Festival, is enthusiastic about the concert. “What a wonderful end to this year’s Isle of Ely Arts Festival,” she says.   “Our aim has always been to display the marvellous talent of our local arts groups and it will be fantastic to hear the combined forces of these three prestigious groups, performing together for the first time, in the superb setting of Ely Cathedral.”

Steve Bingham, artistic director of Ely Sinfonia, adds: “This concert is the culmination of several years’ work to organise a concert that brings together the best of local musicianship. We owe a huge debt of thanks to ADeC, the Isle of Ely Arts Festival and Ely Cathedral for their support and encouragement and, of course, to the Arts Council of Great Britain for its generous financial assistance.”

What more fitting place than Ely Cathedral for Beethoven’s Symphony no 9 in D minor? The first ever major choral symphony, it is one of the best-known works in the classical music repertoire and will sound stunning in the extraordinary acoustic of the Fens’ own cathedral.

ely consortComposer Ralph Vaughan Williams knew the Fens well, first as a student at Cambridge University and then as a collector of English folk songs. In the Fen Country is a magical portrayal of the bleak landscape and wide open spaces of the East Anglian Fens.

Reflecting this year’s Isle of Ely Festival theme of “The Fens” and based on poems by local writers, Andrew Parnell’s Fenland Images, receiving its world première at this concert, illustrates a modern-day agricultural scene, the timeless daily round of worship in St Etheldreda’s monastery and the shadowy characters who once inhabited the Fens. It has been composed for the Isle of Ely Arts Festival thanks to a grant from the Arts Council of Great Britain.

The eminent line of soloists will include Peyee Chen (Soprano), Freya Jacklin (Mezzo Soprano), Michael Solomon Williams (Tenor) and Laurence Williams (Bass-Baritone). The conductors will be Steve Bingham and Andrew Parnell.

Tickets cost £25, £20 or £15 (reserved), £8 (unreserved) and £5 for under 18s. They are now available from Ely Cathedral Box Office (Tel 01353 660349), email box.office@elycathedral.org https://tickets.elycathedral.org/

About Ely Choral Society

Ely Choral Society has grown from being an adult education class in 1961 to a choir of some 125 mixed voices today. The choir takes its singing seriously, but also has a strong social side and lots of fun.

Whilst Ely Choral Society has a policy of being an unauditioned community choir, the standards are high. It performs a wide and exciting repertoire ranging from traditional classical works to modern and specially commissioned pieces.

Each year the choir gives at least one major concert in Ely Cathedral and other concerts are held in local churches and schools. During the summer months, members of the choir have also undertaken tours in Europe. The choir performed concerts in Italy in 2008 and 2017, and in Germany in 2010.

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 two or three full orchestral concerts every year, frequently takes part in local events such as the Isle of Ely Arts Festival 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.


beethovan's 9th