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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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Vaughan Williams


Judith Bingham

SS Wesley


The Music Makers

Flos Campi

Toward the unknown region

The darkness is no darkness

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace

Blest pair of sirens


Somerset Chamber Choir

Southern Sinfonia

Sara Fulgoni

Alan George

Oliver Walker

Graham Caldbeck







Click here to view the concert programme


The rich seam of choral glories by English composers is all too often overlooked in concert programmes and festivals in this country. The Somerset Chamber Choir and the Southern Sinfonia under Graham Caldbeck’s authoritative direction made a huge effort to redress that fault in their concert ‘The dreamers of dreams’ at Wells Cathedral on Saturday 31st July to a capacity audience. With the choir displaying a much improving sound and balance over the last 12 months, the orchestra in fine form (especially the strings and brass) two extraordinarily experienced soloists, this programme was always going to be a winner. And so it proved to be.  


Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens made an impressive start, followed by the enigmatic and sensuous Flos Campi by Vaughan Williams. The latter’s Toward the Unknown Region, a setting of words by Walt Whitman, a bold and confident proclamation about ideals and the future, led us to a finale of Elgar’s much underperformed The Music Makers. In between these was Judith Bingham’s The darkness is no darkness, a piece that grew out of her consideration of Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s anthem Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace. In fact, the anthem is performed as a segue to Bingham’s re-working.


The acoustics of most cathedrals are notoriously unforgiving of music that has multi-layered textures moving at a fast tempo, however this programme was blessed with a high proportion of  slower speeds and quieter dynamics that allowed for the finer subtleties  of dynamics, polyphony and phrasing to emerge. In this the choir was able to display its capable musicianship in a wide range of tone colour, accurate tuning, good chording and sensitive phrasing. Again in these acoustics the balance between orchestra and choir can present problems above a certain volume but on this occasion this was rarely a real problem.


Sara Fulgoni proved to be more than a match for the uncompromising demands of Elgar’s mezzo-soprano part, her grand, rioja-coloured sound a gorgeous vehicle for her total commitment to the O’Shaughnessy poetry. Alan George was the enormously experienced viola soloist in Flos Campi.  


The choir concluded the evening singing the words ‘We are the music-makers’, and what music-makers they proved to be!


Andrew Maddocks


Published in Wells Journal & Mid-Somerset series papers


Saturday 31 July 2010

Wells Cathedral

‘The dreamers of dreams’

Click to download concert poster