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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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Mass in B minor


Somerset Chamber Choir


Emma Kirkby

Tim Mead

Andrew Tortise

Samuel Evans

Graham Caldbeck


Director: Theresa Caudle






Click here to view the concert programme


Bach’s Mass in B minor requires a combination of extremely accomplished singers and players. In the Somerset Chamber Choir, Canzona and eminent soloists under the direction of Graham Caldbeck, a great deal was achieved in their performance of this monumental work at Wells Cathedral last Saturday (30th July) to a capacity audience.


Having succeeded during 1747/8 in completing his Mass, Bach was always going to require performers with high technical skills, sound musicianship, experience in plenty and great confidence. All the performing elements last Saturday had these in abundance.


On the whole the choir managed the quick-tempo choruses with accurate and athletically controlled melismas. True, there were moments when speed appeared to cause concern for the choir but they were carried over the hurdles by a very secure orchestral accompaniment from Canzona. The Confiteor produced a fine sound and the whole choir passionately embraced the magnificence of Bach’s Sanctus. Further evidence of the choir’s ability to sing with understanding of the music came in their finely phrased and articulated Et incarnatus est.


The excellent array of soloists complemented this performance brilliantly. They were the distinguished soprano, Dame Emma Kirkby, Samuel Evans (bass) – his Et in Spiritum was beautifully balanced by the Canzona oboes – and Andrew Tortise, a tenor with complete ease of sound. The countertenor Tim Mead possesses a stunning voice and his effortless legato in the Agnus Dei was very moving.


The success of this performance was underpinned by the players of Canzona (leader: Theresa Caudle), demonstrating superb Baroque music credentials and providing the outstanding instrumental soloists.


The huge structure of the Bach Mass requires a conductor who will carefully select convincing tempos for his musical forces and firmly but sympathetically direct them. In Graham Caldbeck, the Somerset Chamber Choir’s director of 21 years, the performance was in very safe hands.


This choir is of enormous cultural value and significance for Somerset and the region: its achievements should be widely recognised and celebrated.


Andrew Maddocks


Published in the Western Daily Press, Mid Somerset series newspapers and Somerset County Gazette


Saturday 30 July 2011

Wells Cathedral

Bach Mass in B minor


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‘This choir is of enormous cultural value and significance for Somerset and the region: its achievements should be widely recognised and celebrated’