Meet the players

Ely Sinfonia draws on local amateur musicians from Ely itself, as well as from further afield in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The players come from all walks of life, brought together by a common interest in music-making.

Here you will be able to learn more about some of the Ely Sinfonia regulars, as we’ll be posting a variety of interviews and features over the coming months……..


Our leader, Kate Clow

Kate is a talented local musician, well known to many, and who knows the orchestra well. She was born in Winnipeg, Canada, but moved to the UK when she was very young an started the piano and violin at the age of 6.  After school, she spent a gap year working for her LRAM before starting nursing training at Addenbrookes, during which time she joined the CUMS orchestra.  She has been in Cambridge ever since.  As well as Ely Sinfonia, she also leads Steve Bingham’s Ad Hoc Sinfonia, the K239 Orchestra and the Montague String Quartet, as well as working as a part-time nurse for a GPs’ practice.  She recently took part in Grade-one-a-thons and is very proud to have passed both flute and snare drum with distinction.

Dave McLeish (‘Cello)

A Shropshire lad Originally from Telford, Shropshire, David started on the cello at 13. Although cello was his second choice (there was a shortage of flutes), he proved his considerable ability in his subsequent orchestral progress: Telford Light Orchestra, Shropshire County Orchestra, English Symphony Youth Orchestra, various local orchestras and more recently Ely Sinfonia since 2002, as well as ‘the one up the road’ (Norfolk Symphony).

In his childhood, David’s family listened to various types of music and David set the trend for playing, inspiring his brothers (one now a professional musician) and sister to follow suit. His wife plays violin and his three children all play instruments; it remains to be seen whether any of his children follow him in reading music at university (David studied at Leeds).

‘What’s a software architect?’ David’s day job seems a far cry from his orchestral position as leader of the cello section. “I’m responsible for the architecture of a set of products that are used by companies to work together to design, build and maintain everything from an iPhone, car, aeroplane for example. From a phone/tablet/browser, this enables folks to design and view 3D designs, part management, digital simulation so you can prototype virtually and determine things like whether the product fits together, what are its points of failure under strains, heatspots etc. for teams that are globally distributed.” (Phew!) All I can say is that Siemens PLM (Product Life Management) are lucky to have someone who can put something so complicated so succinctly. He works across 24 teams worldwide – no wonder he seems unflappable.

Which brings me to: Hairy moments? One that sticks out was turning a page during a concert to find the next page was missing! It was quickly found but it was a moment of complete shock. Presumably the music had been accidentally knocked to the floor aOer the rehearsal and mixed up when being put back on the stand.

What skills transfer to your posi/on on the ES committee and as workshop organiser? David’s answer is typically self-effacing: “Probably it’s the attention to detail and a willingness to throw yourself into the task wholeheartedly. Essentially, the workshop produces lots of emails and post to deal with; the key is to be organised and keep things ticking over. It takes a few months to pull the whole day together.” The success of the day [see p3] is a tribute to all his hard work and organisation.

How do you relax? Playing and listening to music feature highly. The family has active holidays walking or skiing, and food and culture are also sources of enjoyment. Intriguingly, David plays KorRall for Ely Vikings. I don’t like to display my ignorance….

QUICK FIRE ROUND Night in/night out? Night out. Casals or Rostropovich or?  Difficult. My last teacher, Bruno Schrecker, was taught by Casals, whose playing and approach I hugely admire; but then Rostropovich has probably done more for the cello repertoire than any other person in history, with almost every major 20th century composer writing for the instrument because of him.

E-book/ paperback? On balance, paperback.

Cook/ Be cooked for? Either is fine with me. I love food!

Dvorak/anorak? Dvorak, clearly!