I went to Ely yesterday. Now posting in this forum is a dangerous thing as it is not easy to edit if I make mistakes. Line does not always change to create paragraph. But I take a plunge. Excuse for any errors.
It was a very enjoyable G4 Christmas at Ely yesterday. I have been feeling it was too early to listen to any carols. It was the first time I listened to their Christmas album this year while I was driving to Ely. Cathedral did not have usual big Christmas tree yet. I go there on the 25th every year, and they have enormous tree in the cross just before the screen to enter choir’s stalls. G4 set up their own silvery Christmas trees and decorations. They suspended G4 lighting. Improved idea than what they used to put lower as some audience had been dazzled by it and asked to turn it off.
They started with ‘All I want for Christmas is You’. They sang all songs on the Christmas album, except the medley. (They sang some of them) Now I have to try to remember what they sang… They also sang songs from past G4 or Jonathan’s albums: Jerusalem; Nessun Dorma; Ave Maria and You Never Walk Alone. I feel Panis Angelicus is such a gentle and tender song; it does not need very powerful singing. For this reason, I preferred the way Ben sang Panis Angelicus yesterday. Softer and gentler than the album version.
They proceeded from the back for the second half, holding a candle each and Jonathan also holding a mobile (what was it for? I don’t know but it was not for taking a selfie). They arrived at the stage, but Mike was missing. Nick lighted new candles for each of them and held 2 on behalf of Mike and started singing. Mike eventually turned up from the side half way through. It was typical of Mike, unhurriedly, he made a grand entry and bowed and the audience clapped hands.
Boys were accompanied by Andy playing guitar and the Pianist/ organist. Arrangement was different from album version and I liked the way they did yesterday; quieter maybe (which I like!) sometimes organ with different stops which made it very effective. While I liked the accompaniment which was not intrusive at all and microphones were not blasting too loud, I am still living in a hope that one day they do ‘G4 unplugged’ again without microphone or any accompaniment, or at least some (half ) of them.
The songs they sang for the first time are: ‘In Paradisum’ from Faure’s Requiem and The Lord is my Shepherd by Howard Goodall. Both songs have been my favorites and I am glad they sang. They sang solo parts in turn. Whenever I hear Nick sings with his deep voice, it makes me smile. It is a great contrast with Jonathan’s high note.
I was glad to see the cathedral was fully packed despite the fact that Ely is the smallest city in England. I have seen seats in the aisles behind the pillars elsewhere, but it was the first time to see seats in the transepts. I wondered how they could see sideways. Audience was on the quieter side. When they sang the last song, they just clapped. I yelled ‘ more!’ Without too much encouragement, boys come back and sang encore. They went straight to stand behind the desk to sign and chat. The queue was not very organized but knowing that they never leave anybody behind, I stood and waited for my turn.
I was glad they came to Ely, but asked Jonathan if they had considered coming to Peterborough cathedral. He said ‘it’s a matter of booking isn’t it?’ Then, book it please! The Sixteen come twice every year. We (my choir joined by some others) are performing at Peterborough cathedral this weekend. When we sing Britten’s St Nicholas, ‘pickled three boys’ are singing in the gallery. 3 boys don't use microphones, nor do we. That’s something I can imagine G4 doing as 3 D performance. I liked the way G4 sometimes come in from the back and side but they can go upstairs.
Another thing I wish G4 to do in the future Christmas is to sing: ‘Carol of Bells’, composed by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych:
They have it on an advert by certain company. It’s a very emotive and exciting song which needs great coordination of harmony and timing. Just the right song for the boys.