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Music Makers and Dreamers

Three contrasting soloists bring the Cambridge Philharmonic Society’s season to an astonishing end in the splendour of Ely Cathedral

Programmed by musical director Tim Redmond with his usual flair and imagination, the concert, on July 12th 2008, showcases international stars Natalie Clein and Heather Shipp – as well as the exquisite voice of boy treble William Oliver.

The concert starts with Leonard Bernstein’s effervescent Chichester Psalms. Written for Chichester Cathedral, they were first performed in 1965, and have been one of Bernstein’s most popular compositions ever since. Anyone who enjoys the West Side Story composer’s musical language will thrill to the colourful brass and percussion which Bernstein wields with uncontained joy and reverence, and to the clear singing of William Oliver, Head Chorister at Ely Cathedral.

And then it’s the turn of Natalie Clein who, when she was sixteen years old, won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition with a passionate and committed performance of Elgar’s cello concerto, instantly establishing herself as a star of exceptional gifts and musicality. Since then she has developed into one of the world’s great cellists both as a concerto virtuoso and as a chamber musician of rare sensitivity. For the Cambridge Philharmonic she will play Bloch’s Schelomo, an intense work where the cantorial fervour of the solo cello is matched by the rich texture of an incredible orchestral score. Always moving, the piece finds its ideal interpreter in Clein, a player who totally immerses herself in the music she plays, and whose eloquent sound is a joy to hear and experience.

The main work in the concert is Elgar’s The Music Makers, a piece for soloist and chorus in which Elgar set a poem by Arthur O’Shaunessey which starts ‘We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.’ With lines like that Elgar went to town, quoting from The Dream of Gerontius, Enigma Variations and a whole host of his other best-known works. Anyone who likes the music of one of England’s greatest composers will love this deeply autobiographical work, especially since the soloist is Heather Shipp who, when she joined the society for ‘A Night at the Opera’ in 2007, was an instant hit not only with the audience, but also with chorus and orchestra. Described by one critic as ‘sensuous, graceful and a possessor of a lyric mezzo-soprano voice of great beauty’ Shipp is the ideal interpreter for Elgar’s stirring music.

The concert, which starts at 7.30pm, is conducted by Tim Redmond. Tickets (£25, £20, £15 and £10) are available from the Ely Cathedral box office (01353 660349 or email) or at the door.

Notes for editors

Cambridge Philharmonic, founded in 1887, is one of Britain’s oldest and most distinguished music societies. With a full symphony orchestra and a large chorus, the Cambridge Philharmonic presents an annual concert series in King’s College Chapel, Ely Cathedral and the West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge.

Cambridge Philharmonic works with an enviable roster of soloists, including in recent seasons, instrumentalists such as Natalie Clein, Alison Balsom, Mark Simpson and Martin Roscoe and singers Joan Rodgers, Emma Bell, Roderick Williams and Jacques Imbrailo. This has been a long tradition of the Philharmonic and in previous decades, artists including Philip Langridge, Peter Pears, Philip Jones and Kathleen Ferrier all performed with the society. Principal and guest conductors have included Sir David Willcocks, Stephen Cleobury, Raymond Leppard and Thomas Adès.

Under their current principal conductor and music director, Timothy Redmond, the Cambridge Philharmonic has developed and expanded its repertoire to include annual opera performances, family concerts and a focus on contemporary music. Critically-acclaimed performances of repertoire as diverse as Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Bernstein’s Candide, Verdi’s La Traviata and Mahler’s Second Symphony have given the Cambridge Philharmonic a profile that extends far beyond its home town.

In addition to its regular performances in the UK, the Cambridge Philharmonic has appeared at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and Prague’s Rudolfinum Concert Hall. The Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra reached an even wider audience when they recorded Ryan Teague’s album Coins and Crosses, which has been featured on BBC radio and TV and heard on radio stations worldwide.

For more information please contact Anne Sales at info@cam-phil.org.uk.