St Ives Choral Society to perform at Ely Cathedral on Saturday

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral - Credit: Archant

St Ives Choral Society will perform Edward Elgar’s choral work, The Apostles in Ely Cathedral on May 7.

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of St Ives Choral Society. Based in St Ives, it draws singers and audiences from across the county and beyond. The choir has grown in stature and reputation to the point where it can take on this demanding choral work by Elgar in Ely Cathedral.

Musical events in the Cathedral attract large attendances from all over Cambridgeshire. The audience for The Apostles is expected to be even larger than usual because chances to hear this famous work by Elgar are so few, since large musical resources are required.

Elgar’s The Apostles offers a rare opportunity to hear one of the great oratorios in the repertoire. Scored for large orchestra, organ, chorus and six soloists the work was conceived as the first part of a trilogy including The Kingdom and The Last Judgement, although only the first two works were ever completed.

The Apostles deals with selected, key moments in the life of Christ, most significantly taken from the perspectives of his followers. Hence, moments such as The Beatitudes are punctuated by comments from his disciples. We hear of the torment felt by Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot’s torment in the betrayal and Peter’s denial. Finally, we hear of Christ’s death and Resurrection.

Musically, this is the composer at his very best: soundscapes are vast and typically Elgarian with dramatic depictions of the calming of the storm at sea, and evocative use of leitmotifs including the wonderfully haunting ‘prayer motif’. These brilliantly interwoven harmonies and melodies underpin the music, guiding the listener through the narrative, culminating in one of the most beautiful final movements in the choral repertoire.

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