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Members  © 2011 Somerset Chamber Choir  Registered Charity No.1003687  

Patrons: Dame Emma Kirkby and Sir David Willcocks

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Thomas Tallis

Arvo Pärt

Gustav Holst

Gerald Finzi

Claudio Monteverdi

Michael Tippett

Patrick Hadley

John Tavener


Benjamin Britten

arr. John Rutter


Videte miraculum

Seven Magnificat Antiphons

Ave Maria


Missa a quattro voci da cappella

Preludio al Vespro di Monteverdi

I sing of a maiden that is makeless

A hymn to the Mother of God

Today the Virgin

A New Year Carol

Here we come a-wassailing

Three chorale preludes


Somerset Chamber Choir

Richard Pearce

Graham Caldbeck





Somerset Chamber Choir's concert at King's College Chapel, Taunton, on Saturday was rather like a tasty dish of thick warming soup. As each ingredient was discovered it had its own distinct characteristics, yet the combination of the whole was even better than the sum of the individual flavours.


Tallis to begin with and apart from a brief moment of anarchy among the tenors the 'Videte Miraculum' emerged polyphonically perfect. Later in the evening, the 'Missa a Quattro Voci da Capella' by Monteverdi reinforced this excellence as the singers demonstrated absolute security of pitch and tempi in this deeply satisfying composition. The contrapuntal complexities flowed seemingly without effort giving the composition a coherence sometimes lacking in lesser performances.


I have often said that this choir has a special affinity with music of the 20th century and so it proved once more. Arvo Part's Seven Magnificat Antiphons showed again why this composer cannot be ignored.  Subtly changing sonorities and tempi built to a magnificent central climax then subsided with originality and authority, just the music to draw the best from everyone.


Compositions by Holst, Hadley, Tippett , Tavener. Britten and Rutter followed, each receiving that precise attention to detail for which this choir is noted, but my personal pick of these 20th century delights has to be Gerald Finzi's Magnificat. This is in every sense a stunning work both for its masterful choral writing and for the clarity and originality of the organ accompaniment played to great effect by Richard Pearce. This performance would have satisfied the most demanding listener and should the day ever arrive when such musicality is commercially available I would be the first to part with my hard earned cash to acquire the CD.


I hope that conductor Graham Caldbeck doesn't mind me comparing his concert to a bowl of hearty soup. If Oliver Twist were faced with such a feast he would have to pronounce "Please sir, I want some more". So say we all.


Philip Knighton

Saturday 30 December 2000

Miracles & Mysteries

King’s College Chapel, Taunton