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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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Bach arr.Nystedt


Zadok the priest

My heart is inditing

Dixit Dominus

Passacaglia & fugue in c minor

Immortal Bach


Somerset Chamber Choir


Joanne Lunn

Helen Groves

Deborah Hawksley

Ivan Sharpe

Jonathan Gunthorpe

Richard Pearce

Graham Caldbeck


Director: Theresa Caudle









It was probably the best choral concert of the year....and I nearly missed it.


A seven o'clock start at Wells Cathedral is tricky when I have to close my shop in Wellington and so the opening preamble was already in progress when I slipped gratefully into my seat.


I know quality when I hear it and over the years the Somerset Chamber Choir, conducted by Graham Caldbeck, has firmly established itself as among the best.


The programme chosen was guaranteed to please and to demonstrate the choir's capabilities to the full: Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Nystedt provided a heady mixture and even at £20 a seat it was a bargain.


Those most famous of anthems 'Zadok the Priest' and 'My Heart is Inditing' opened the evening with great vigour and style; indeed it was that sharpness of detail and zest that characterised the entire evening.


Vivaldi's 'Dixit Dominus' gave us a vivid demonstration of this approach and with Joanne Lunn, Helen Groves, Ivan Sharpe and Johnathan Gunthorpe as soloists total satisfaction was guaranteed. I can never resist contributions by Richard Pearce and Bach's Passcaglia and Fugue in C minor fulfilled all expectations. Likewise the choir’s thrilling Bach Magnificat, full of life and making the very best of this most inventive of scores.


Louise Mott joined the soloists and it seemed that everyone could do no wrong. The orchestral support by Canzona was also of the highest order and this performance would be hard to better.


And so to that mystery item by Knut Nystedt: Immortal Bach. With the choir divided into five sections and placed around the cathedral, Graham Caldbeck directed from the centre of the nave. The compulsive repetition of three Bach phrases overlaid and sung at differing tempi reached crucial resonance points at crucial moments. The result was simply stunning.


So I nearly missed the unmissable. Perhaps should save up for a faster car or move my business to Wells.


Philip Knighton

Saturday 5 August 2000

Wells Cathedral

Bach, Vivaldi & Handel

I first had the enormous pleasure of hearing Somerset Chamber Choir sing about three or four years ago at Wells Cathedral, and I have been an enthusiastic member ever since.


Officially an 'amateur' choir, the sheer consistent professionalism of this choir's performances never fails to amaze me, not just through the quality of their own singing, and admirable discipline, but by the fabulous choice of music and the skill of the accompanying orchestra and soloists.


This year's concert was no less representative of the incredibly high reputation the choir has developed during its 16 years of existence, with a programme including Handel's Zadok the Priest, and My Heart is Inditing, Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus and in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, his famous Magnificat and a modern tribute piece by the Norwegian composer, Knut Nystedt.


The awesome Wells Cathedral with its soaring vaults and exciting acoustics was once again the apt setting for their summer concert, and despite its size, was filled by an admiring audience.


The building perfectly enhanced the daring and extremely effective performance of Nystedt's Immortal Bach performed by the choir split into five, and spread out across the cathedral, with one choir singing from the high rear gallery.


But the effect once again confirmed conductor Graham Caldbeck's skill at choosing lesser known and more technical pieces, and proved again that this choir is capable of just about anything.


And the popular pieces were no less brilliant.


Zadok has been performed more times than the choir have eaten hot dinners, but they still managed to give it a fresh feel which made hearing it a new pleasure and not an old bore.


Bach's Magnificat and Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus seemed to be faultless, with stunning performances by soloists Helen Groves, Joanne Lunn, Louise Mott, Ivan Sharpe and Jonathan Gunthorpe whose heavenly voices seemed to wash through the cathedral and over a delighted audience.


Solo organist Richard Pearce performed a really superb Bach's Passaglia & Fugue in C Minor, and once again the professionalism of the choir's sound was made possible by the brilliant Canzona orchestra, directed by Theresa Caudle.


Well done again SCC, and I look forward with great anticipation to the December concert in Taunton, Miracles and Mysteries and a performance of Monteverdi's Vespers this time next year.


Val Courts - published in the Taunton Times