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Ely Cathedral

AD ORIENTEM: AN ELY LITURGY

ELY CATHEDRAL IS COMMISSIONING LEADING YOUNG BRITISH COMPOSER JAMES OLSEN TO WRITE A MAJOR NEW WORK FOR ELY CATHEDRAL BOY AND GIRL CHORISTERS, ORGAN, PROFESSIONAL ORCHESTRAL MUSICIANS FROM THE BRITTEN SINFONIA, CATHEDRAL CLERGY AND ALTAR SERVERS, AND OVER 250 CAMBRIDGESHIRE SCHOOLCHILDREN, TO BE PERFORMED AT ELY CATHEDRAL ON 22 JUNE 2020.

22 June 2020

The new work, titled Ad orientem: An Ely Liturgy, sits somewhere between contemporary 'art' music, music theatre and liturgy, and tells the story of the original Anglo-Saxon monastery at Ely, founded by Saint Etheldreda in 673 and destroyed by the Vikings in 870. It will combine theatre with music and liturgical elements to create a unique site-specific work for the Cathedral which makes use of different parts of the building in performance. The work will also contain a series of short meditations by a larval eel, written especially for the work and read in the performance by the distinguished local writer Francis Spufford.

As part of the project, James and musicians from the Cathedral and the Britten Sinfonia will deliver a number of workshops in participating schools, introducing the children to local Anglo-Saxon history and medieval music.

The Dean

The Very Revd Mark Bonney, Dean of Ely, says: 'I am delighted that Ely Cathedral is commissioning composer James Olsen to create this unique new work for us. The Cathedral's musical tradition is one of its great treasures, and by giving hundreds of local schoolchildren the opportunity to sing alongside Cathedral musicians and members of the Britten Sinfonia in this magnificent space, a new generation will discover the richness and beauty of that tradition for the first time. This project is not simply about music, however: participating children will learn about the Anglo-Saxon origins of the Cathedral through special workshops and tours, and bring that history to life in a spectacular final performance which will combine music, drama and liturgy.

'We owe our Cathedral's existence to the patronage of countless individuals who wished for this great building to inspire future generations. We have already secured about 85% of the funding for this project from a generous donation from the Farmington Institute, but we still have a little further to go. I therefore very much hope that you will consider continuing that tradition of generosity by supporting this project.'

From as little as £10, you can be a patron of the project and have your name in the published score.

We warmly encourage you to consider becoming a patron of this extraordinary project to ensure that it can go ahead as planned and create an unforgettable experience for hundreds of young people in the Ely and Cambridgeshire community.

To find out more, and to become a patron, please visit the project website at www.olsenverlag.com/ely

James Olsen

James Olsen ('Brilliantly imaginative' - Tom Service, The Guardian), born in 1982, has seen performances of his music by leading international orchestras and ensembles in the UK and continental Europe, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Britten Sinfonia and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. He read music at King's College, Cambridge, where he gained a double starred first, and studied composition with Wolfgang Rihm in Germany. James is especially passionate about composing high-quality new works for children and young people, and recent projects include a 'musical documentary' commissioned by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and performed at the national D-Day 75 events in Portsmouth by 100 schoolchildren alongside local community musicians and members of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

James teaches music at the University of Cambridge, is the founder of the music publishing company Olsen Verlag, and publishes a weekly vlog on YouTube to give aspiring young composers and musicians an insight into the life of a professional composer. He has lived in Ely since 2016.

You can watch James's videos at www.youtube.com/jamesolsentv