Ely Sinfonia presented a refreshing concert in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 3rd March 2007. An attractive programme of music with Spanish connections offered works by Chabrier, Rodrigo and Dvorak that were both appealing and challenging.
â€œEspaÃ±a-Rhapsody for Orchestraâ€ by Chabrier provided a fitting attention-seeking opening to events. The tantalizing variety of rhythms and colours in this work were brought alive in the hands of conductor Peter Britton. His ease on the platform and the suave precision that permeated his conducting style inspired great works from the orchestral members.
David Massey was a youthful but formidable solo guitarist. His capacity to sail through swift passages with unerring effortlessness and his command of the tremendous variety of styles and techniques his performances demanded, thrilled the packed audience. He positively stirred the hear-strings in Rodrigoâ€™s â€œFantasia para un gentilhombreâ€ and his firm exploration of the deeper tones of the instrument was awe-inspiring.
Ely Sinfonia accompanied David with measured skill and this splendid orchestra had by now proved to be highly accomplished – able to work cohesively and effectively incorporating many highly skilled solo passages that gave the virtuosic flourishes and more sonorous, contemplative episodes excellent value.
This fine orchestra ended the concert with a very appealing presentation of Dvorakâ€™s â€œSymphony No. 9 in E â€œFrom the New Worldâ€ Op. 95. The warmth of the strings the beauty and dexterity of the woodwind, the robust strength of the brass and the vibrant foundation provided by the percussion made the performance delightful. The lightness and ease of the performance, again, left no doubt that under Peterâ€™s conducting, the instrumentalists knew exactly when and how to participate effectively and they were inspired to bring out the expressiveness of this popular composition with confidence.
However, the most outstanding effect of the eveningâ€™s performance was the successful realization of Ely Sinfoniaâ€™s original mission to bring together local performers of all ages and backgrounds, professional and amateur, to develop their understanding and performance skills under the guidance of local professional artists. The evening was particularly successful in this and with the availability of large screens from which the individuals performers could be seen made it heart-warmingly evident that some of the finest flute playing came from a local blind musician whose partner instrumentalist was able to support sufficiently well so that not a beat was lost.