Performance of Purcell’s ‘Ode on St Cecilia’s Day’

Saturday 22nd November was the Michaelmas Kenderdine Concert, a termly concert series established in memory of the late Sidney Kenderdine: a Pembroke alumnus, University Lecturer in Astrophysics, and College Praelector for thirty years. In acknowledgement of the efforts made by the College to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the admission of women undergraduates to Pembroke, this term’s concert was held on St Cecilia’s Day, and the chosen piece was Purcell’s ‘Ode’ to the female patron saint of music and musicians.

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Confidently conducted by Gregory Drott, the ensemble consisted of singers and musicians from colleges across the university (with a strong Pembroke contingent), along with four professional soloists – one of whom, Rachel Ambrose Evans, is a Pembroke alumna (2008). The format of Purcell’s work, with its text full of references to different musical instruments, allowed every section of the ensemble to shine, from the opening orchestral symphony to the chorus-only passages, as well as showcasing the considerable talents of the soloists in several arias and duets. Soloists James Savage-Hanford and Christopher Webb deserve a special mention for their rendition of ‘Let these among themselves contest’, which was a fine conclusion to the choral section before the ensemble finale.

Rounding out at an hour long, Purcell’s ‘Ode’ is not to everyone’s taste, but this ensemble successfully held the audience’s attention throughout and earned a thorough round of applause at the end. Coinciding with events commemorating the College’s foundress, Marie de St Pol, this concert was a fitting and unique contribution to the PemWomen@30 series.

Eleanor Metcalf, English (2012)