Serenade to Music
8 July 2023, 19:30
Ely Sinfonia, Ely Choral Society and Ely Youth Choir join together in a unique selection of music that makes the most of the magnificent space of Ely Cathedral. Vaughan Williams, the English twentieth century master, stands next to Beethoven, the early romantic titan. Between them is Bob Chilcott, one of the most prolific and celebrated choral composers of today.
What could be more different than Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves and his Serenade to Music, the first combining two traditional English songs and the second an exquisite piece written in 1938 to celebrate Henry Wood’s jubilee as a conductor?
Beethoven’s 8th Symphony is happy, bouncy, humorous and enigmatic, poking fun at convention from its start through to its triumphant ending. Described as “one of the shortest, weirdest, but most compelling symphonies of the 19th century” (The Guardian), it certainly fulfils Beethoven’s promise in a letter to a friend that “music ought to strike fire from the soul of a man”.
Bob Chilcott’s gentle, prayerful Canticles of Light shows the influence of ancient plainchant, echoing Ely’s historic monastic worship. Ely Youth Choir will add a direct link to those medieval days singing atmospheric quasi-plainsong melodies.
Finally, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia couldn’t be a more marked contrast to the other choral works of this concert. We revisit the praise of music in an unashamedly ebullient fantasy for piano, chorus and orchestra. It could be a sketch for the finale of Beethoven’s Choral (9th) Symphony preceded by a cadenza stolen from one of his piano concertos, played by virtuoso pianist Natalia Williams-Wandoch.
The concert will be jointly conducted by Steve Bingham and Andrew Parnell.
Tickets: £25, £20, £10. Under 18s £5.