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Patrons: Dame Emma Kirkby and Sir David Willcocks

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Jonathan Dove

Carmina Burana

The passing of the year


Somerset Chamber Choir

South Somerset Youth Choir

Nathalie Chalkley

David Stout

Anita D’Attellis

Annabel Thwaite

The Mean Time Percussion Ensemble

Graham Caldbeck









Click here to view the concert programme


NB David Stout was a late replacement for an indisposed Benedict Nelson

As an addendum to the programme, you can read David Stout’s biography here


At the St. Valentine’s Day concert last Sunday in King’s College Chapel (Taunton) Somerset Chamber Choir presented a capacity audience a passionate offering of music. Of course, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is deservedly a box office certainty but the choir enterprisingly gave a very worthwhile introduction for many to Jonathan Dove’s The Passing of the Year, while the guest choir, South Somerset Youth Choir (conductor Ros Broad), kept to more familiar ground with Songs from Sister Act and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah!


Orff’s selected text from the medieval, largely Latin, poetry collection can be grouped into themes of love and lust, morals and mockery, drinking and gaming and the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Musically Carmina Burana requires rhythmic agility with confident intensity, attention to Orff’s detailed articulation and dynamic instructions and an immense feel of raw passion even within the quieter and less hurly-burly of moments. Above all, there needs to be continuous momentum without the energy ever feeling out of control.


The conductor, Graham Caldbeck, found the right impetus, selected a judicious choice of speeds and his clear, no-nonsense direction gave the performance the vital ingredients for its success. He was aided enormously by the brilliant and assured playing of Anita D’Attellis and Annabel Thwaite on two pianos and The Mean Time Percussion Ensemble. The replacement baritone, David Stout, brought his enormous theatrical experience to bear in the tavern scenes and except for one pitching hitch was technically flawless. Nathalie Chalkley (soprano) possesses a fine and fluent voice but her impact would have gained immeasurably by being less dependent on her music copy. The tenor Thomas Hobbs sang his role as the forlorn roasted swan with suitable irony.


The choruses were for the most part technically well managed and commitment and passion were never in doubt, although the tenors and basses were much more comfortable in In taberna quando sumus (When we are in the tavern) than in Si puer cum puellula (When a boy and a girl are alone together) – strange that! Less volume at the quieter end of the dynamic spectrum and greater delineated articulation would have added to the intensity of the drama but the words always had clarity.


Somerset Chamber Choir’s praise-worthy policy of directly encouraging the young in their singing was well rewarded by the South Somerset Youth Choir who laudably sang their individual contribution from memory and added weight to the choruses in Carmina Burana.


Andrew Maddocks


Published in Somerset County Gazette

Sunday 14 February 2010

King’s College Chapel, Taunton

Carmina Burana