Ely Cathedral is commissioning British composer James Olsen to write a major new work for Ely Cathedral boy and girl choristers, organ, musicians from Britten Sinfonia, Cathedral Clergy and Altar Servers, and over 250 Cambridgeshire schoolchildren, to be performed at Ely Cathedral on 22 June 2020.
The new work, titles Ad orientem: An Ely Liturgy, sits somewhere between contemporary ‘art’ music and music theatre and liturgy, and tells the story of the original Anglo-Saxon monastery at Ely, founded by Saint Etheldreda in 673 and destroyed by the Vikings in 870. It will combine theatre with music and liturgical elements to create a unique site-specific work for the Cathedral which makes use of different parts of the building in performance. The work will also contain a series of short meditations by a larval eel, written especially for the work and read in the performance by the distinguished local writer Francis Spufford.
As part of the project, James and musicians from the Cathedral and Britten Sinfonia will deliver a number of workshops in participating schools, introducing the children to local Anglo-Saxon history and medieval music.