Review: 10th Anniversary Concert (2009)

“Ely Sinfonia, ‘the first high quality orchestral ensemble to be based in Ely’, has certainly blossomed over the past 10 years. The concert in Ely Cathedral presented as a celebration of its 10th anniversary was an excellent tribute to this organization’s talent, musicality and dedication.

Conducted by Steve Bingham, the orchestra opened the event with an highly accomplished performance of Beethoven’s popular 5th symphony. The players worked as one, developing Beethoven’s dramatic contrasts into episodes of accumulating tension and creating a constant sense of urgency that was never hurried and a momentum that never dissipated. The charm and appeal of the second movement exploited the more subtle effects of Beethoven’s style while the Scherzo and final Allegro brought the work to a typical robust and triumphant climax.

The evening was marked with a first performance of a work especially written for the occasion: The Martyrdom of Latimer by Adam Pounds who was present in the audience. The warmth and enthusiasm the audience showed towards this piece was certainly warranted. This profound work explored the excitement and darkness of death and spiritual revival. After the opening appealing melody was taken up in turn by the different sections of the orchestra, the toll of impending doom heralded the contrasting development of dramatic conflict, building up to an exciting climax with trumpets off-stage broadening the experience until the work’s final thunderous drum call brought this fine composition to a memorable close.

After interval, the evening culminated with a glorious presentation of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor. The orchestra was joined by the combined forces of Ely Consort and Swavesey Community Choir and soloists Helen-Jane Howells (soprano), Olivia Ray (mezzo-soprano), Nicholas Bewes (tenor) and Simon Adams (bass). Steve Bingham led this magnificent mass of performers towards moments of sublime expression. His sense of dynamic and rhythmic drive urged the music forwards, always enhancing the sense of poignancy that permeated the score. Singers and instrumentalists added potency to their performance with an unreserved and personal involvement that has rarely been seen in choirs and orchestras of such magnitude. The soloists were outstanding, producing sounds of rare beauty especially noticeable in the Benedictus. The poignant semitone phrases and contrasts of the Lacrimosa and the strong, wholesome chords from the choir in the Agnus Dei were only two of the wonderful effects that pervaded this moving performance.

This was indeed a wonderful celebration. At the end of the evening, the occasion was marked with the presentation of an award to Robin Moore who has been largely responsible for the development and growth of this fine orchestra. His efforts were very much appreciated by those attending.”

Dr Rosemary Westwell, Local Arts Critic