Our Spring Term began on Wednesday 8th January 2020 in the Concert Hall at Sidcot School near Winscombe when we started rehearsals for our next Concert which will be Puccini’s “Messe di Gloria” and Duruflé’s “Requiem” that we will perform on Saturday 16th May at St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells. We have started our new season led by our new Musical Director Daniel Robert Cushing who is a young and enthusiastic musician from Bath who plays the organ, piano and harpsichord and specialises in choral direction. If you were unable to make our first rehearsal then join us at Wednesday evening rehearsals. We are very keen to recruit new members of any voice (SATB) and there are no auditions, so if you would like to experience some music, fun and community, please join us as you will receive a very warm welcome.
The photographs below depict the Somerset Choral Society during our rehearsal on Wednesday 15th January.
We were pleased to present a “Carols by Candlelight Concert” as our first ever performance in All Saints Church Wrington on Saturday 30th November when the main work was “A Ceremony of Carols” by Benjamin Britten sung together with the newly formed Wrington Youth Choir. We were delighted to welcome as our harpist Alis Huws Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales, Michael Taylor the Wrington Church organist and our two soprano soloists local mother and daughter “Zoë Maitland-Round and Louise Maitland-Round”. The whole concert was organised and conducted by our accompanist Allison Blundell who trained both choirs while her son George acted as accompanist in her place.
ALIS HUWS HARPIST IN WRINGTON CHURCH
PRESENTATION TO ALISON BLUNDELL OUR CONDUCTOR
PRESENTATION TO GEORGE BLUNDELL OUR ACCOMPANIST
Benjamin Britten’s hugely popular Ceremony of Carols was inspired by his discovery of “The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems”, a collection of poetry first published in 1933. It was composed in part while returning by ship to Britain from the United States in 1942. It features an unusual setting for treble voices and harp; Britten had intended to write a harp concerto and so had been studying the instrument. The “carols” are largely the product of 15th and 16th century writers, most of whom are anonymous. They retain their unique flavour by Britten’s extensive use of old English language. The version we presented was an arrangement for soprano, alto, tenor and bass with two soprano soloists.
The Somerset Choral Society were delighted to be part of the 2019 Wedmore Arts Festival at St Mary’s Church, Wedmore on Saturday 11th May when they presented a programme of “Music for a Summer Evening” in conjunction with the talented young local violinist Poppy McGhee. An audience of around 200 came and enjoyed a splendid evening of varied music making.
In the Five Mystical Songs Vaughan Williams uses the words of the famous metaphysical poet George Herbert and the piece ends with his magnificent setting of the hymn “Let all the world in every corner sing”. Ed chose two pieces from Brahms, the first being his masterful setting of Paul Flemming’s hymn Die Geistliches Lied which is a devotional poem espousing the idea of trusting to the divine for your future. To conclude the first half, Ed selected two choruses from the Requiem by Gabriel Faure the haunting Sanctus with the solo violin playing over the top and in perfect contrast the Libera Me movement with its grounded and visceral Baritone solo sung by Craig Bissex.
After the interval, the Choir sang the second Brahms piece drawn from his German Requiem “How lovely are thy dwellings” which is its central and best known movement. We then welcomed violinist Poppy McGhee accompanied on piano by Matthew Redman. Poppy chose a varied programme with the whole audience in mind. The audience enjoyed the simplicity of Salut d’amour by Edward Elgar, the intensity of The Prokofiev Sonata, the serene beauty of Brahms’s Contemplation and the cheekiness of The Hot Canary by Paul Nero.
This was Ed’s final concert as our Musical Director as he is moving on to pastures new. At the end of the concert and as a token of the Choir’s appreciation of his services, our Chairman Jane Chubb and Secretary Ginny Waters presented Ed with some Dartington Wine Glasses and some bottles of red wine.
The Somerset Choral Society held a very successful Choral Workshop “Come and Sing Faure Requiem” on Saturday 27 April in St Mary’s Church, Wedmore between 10:00am and 3:00pm. Fifty Singers from all over the local area registered and enjoyed an enjoyable day’s choral singing led by their Musical Director Ed Goater punctuated by breaks for hot and cold drinks and biscuits and some social chat. For the workshop Ed chose Movement 1 “Introit and Kyrie”, Movement 3 “Sanctus”, Movement 5 “Agnus Dei” and Movement 7 “In Paradisum”. The workshop ended with an informal performance of these four pieces starting at 2:30pm.
On Saturday 24th November, Somerset Choral Society performed a programme of Advent and Christmas music and readings to an appreciative audience of 150 people in St Mary’s Church, Wedmore that was lit entirely by candles; it proved to be a wonderfully atmospheric celebration of Advent. The choir performed Bob Chilcott’s “ On Christmas Night” plus seasonal favourites including Harold Darke’s arrangement of “In The Bleak Midwinter”, “Adam lay y’bounden” by Boris Ord, “The Three Kings” by Peter Cornelius, “Gabriel’s Message” by Edgar Pettman, “Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming” by Praetorius and concluded with a rousing arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by David Willcocks. As well as the music, there were a selection of seasonal readings. Virginia Waters read “Reading from Advent 1955” by John Betjeman, Edward Goater read from “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas and Adrian Shephard read “The Art of Sending Christmas Cards” by William Connor.The choir was conducted by its Musical Director Edward Goater and accompanied by Organist Matthew Redman. To complete the Advent atmosphere, the audience were able to sample mulled wine and mince pies before, during the interval and after the concert.
On a beautiful sunny afternoon on Sunday 2nd September, the Somerset Choral Society celebrated the start of their new term with a Garden Party held at the home of two of the choir members, Roger and Celia Starr. In the lovely surroundings of the Starr’s garden, members were treated to “bubbly” and a traditional cream tea organised and prepared by Janet Leek and Gillian Ticehurst. A great time was had by all as people sat around the beautiful garden eating, drinking and enjoying entertainment that was provided by the Churchill Singers, a choir member Maurice Jackson’s rendition of “Albert and the Lion” and music from local singer/songwriter Winston Chubb. Members attending described it as a really enjoyable and relaxed afternoon social event.
On Wednesday 5th September the choir started the hard work of rehearsals at Sidcot School Concert Hall in preparation for the next production which will be a Candlelit Concert of Advent and Christmas Music at 7:30pm on Saturday 24th November in St Mary’s Church, Wedmore.
Singer Songwriter Winston Chubb
Maurice Jackson – Albert & the Lion
Enjoying the “Bubbly”
“Soaking up the Rays”