REVIEW: ‘Cambridge Voices’ concert at Ely Cathedral is a ‘magical experience’

PUBLISHED: 09:59 30 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:59 30 August 2017

Ian de Massini

Ian de Massini


Ian de Massini and Cambridge Voices have done it again. There was obviously good reason for this annual concert arranged by Babylon Arts/ ADeC being so popular.

The packed audience in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral thoroughly enjoyed yet another Ian de Massini magical experience, one that oozed musical quality, exquisite sonorous voices, and delicious full-blooded harmonies.

The sound of a tolling bell was enough to tell us that we were about to become part of an amazing event as the choir members solemnly moved slowly in file to take their places surrounding us while they were singing. It was mesmerising.

The works these amazing musicians presented included much early church music which relied on the flow of separate parts imitating each other in a multi-faceted fabric that was further enhanced by the acoustic of the building.

The clarity, accuracy and tonal purity of the voices were ideal. Also, the choice of composers was just the ticket – especially Duruflé, for not only was his music designed for high vaults of a church building, he, more than many others, managed to capture the essence of the expressive intention of the words.

Highlights for me included the opening plainsong Procession, ‘Jesus autem transiens’, the unexpected ‘jazzy’ ‘Do what the Spirit says!’, Ian’s arrangement of ‘Panis Angelicus’, ‘Messe de Requiem’ by Duruflé and Widor’s ‘Toccata’ from Organ Symphony no. 5 arranged to include voices by our own David Willcocks who was not unknown to Ely Cathedral in the past.

The ‘Pie Jesu’ in Duruflé’s Requiem was also delightful, featuring the rich, resonant voice of mezzo soprano Lucy Taylor, a splendid ‘cellist Philippa Jones and the highly skilful organist Christopher Saward.

The whole splendid event was a result of the talented and phenomenal Ian de Massini who obviously lives and breathes music and who arranged much of the music making this whole event a splendid 30 years’ celebration.

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