Monday, 22 June 2015

Jonathan Schranz and the Selwyn Consort on tour St Michael's Mount Dinham Monday 29 June Buckfast Abbey Tuesday 30 June 2015

Jonathan Schranz

The Selwyn Consort - on tour

St Michael's Church Mount Dinham
Monday 29 June 7.30pm

Buckfast Abbey

Tuesday 30 June 7.30pm


Conductors: Jonathan Schranz / John Bachelor

18 Selwyn College Choral Scholars
from Selwyn, Homerton, Trinity & Churchill
& The Selwyn College Chapel Choir
(Musical Director Sarah MacDonald)

    William Byrd: "Ne irascaris Domine
                                       - Civitas sancti tui"
Nicolas Walker: "Tantum Ergo"     
(Nicolas is a first year music student         
          and a member of the Selwyn Consort)
Graham Keitch: "Ave Maria"            
           Graham Keitch: "Audivi Vocem" (premiere)
                 Hubert Parry: "My Soul, there is a country" 
   William Harris: "Faire is the Heaven" 
   Benjamin Britten: "A Hymn to the Virgin"

Admission: FREE (retiring collection)

(Hear Jon Schranz' recording of 
Britten's "Hymn to the Virgin"
with members of the Selwyn Consort
 on 'Soundcloud')

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Voces8 St Michael and all Angels Mount Dinham Friday 19 June 2015

Soprano: Andrea Haines, Emily Dickens
Countertenor: Christopher Wardle, Barnaby Smith
Tenor: Sam Dressel, Oliver Vincent
Baritone: Paul Smith & Bass: Dingle Yandell

Alex West
Organ scholar and trustee of the Exeter Festival Chorus, Alex West, marked the end of his tenure as Musical Director at The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Mount Dinham, with an inspiring workshop and spectacular concert by international choral stars, Voces8.

Both events were sold out. Music lovers and music makers from across Devon rushed to the church for the afternoon's two hour workshop. Voces8 Musical Director, Barnaby Smith, demonstrated professional warm-up and rehearsal techniques, and let the students in on some of the secrets of creating the perfect balance of sound from a polyphonic choir. The other choir members demonstrated enthusiastically, and answered many interesting questions about choral music. They also directed the students, in four sections, to produce beautiful music of their own.

In the evening the church was equally packed, with many of the students from the workshop joining the capacity audience. The extra seats at the front of the nave were at a premium for a close-up experience of the choir, and the perfect acoustic rendering of their music.

Impressive accoustics
and sensational harmonies
Needless to say, the lofty barrel roof of the Sanctuary provided the perfect resonance for their opening sacred motets. William Byrd's antiphon "Haec dies quam fecit Dominus" (Psalm 118, O give thanks to the Lord) was a beautiful canon for six voices, skilfully shared between eight. Immediately, the underscoring of Dingle Yandell's bathyscaphic basso profundo voice added its mellifluous and sensual foundation to the 'pyramid of sound'.

"Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes" (Psalm 19, The heavens are telling the glory of the Lord) by Heinrich Schütz predated Bach's version by nearly a century. This very early experiment in Italian opera-style a cappella singing corresponded to the orchestral version, with the different voices taking the parts of the instruments. After a brief introduction, the choir burst forth with full force in a spectacular and impressive symphony with every voice shining out both individually and in concert - just as advertised.

Baritone Paul Smith then took things in a different and unexpected direction with a wartime jazz number by Nat King Cole. Paul playfully introduced all the choir members in turn (starting with Dingle), in the style of the wonderful Viv Stanshall. Each singer was welcomed by the audience with whoops and wild applause. They each responded with a skilful exposition of scat singing building a wall of sound.

Sam Dressel sings "I've got the world on a string"
accompanied on 'double bass' by Dingle Yardell
Once the full chorus was in action, tenor Oliver Vincent sang the solo. He opened with an even more unexpected lyric from the turn of the twenty first century, by Axl Rose, "Take me down to Paradise City", echoed by Andrea Haines, and playfully redirected into Cole's "Straighten up and fly right". This delicate confection was a far cry from "Guns N' Roses"!

Tenor, Sam Dressel, who had delighted the workshop students with his version of "Twist and Shout" in the afternoon, now sang a very special solo for the evening audience. Harold Arlen's Cotton Club Parade number, "I've got the world on a string". The choir members broke with choral tradition by walking and singing, mingling like friends at a cocktail party - and mingling their voices perfectly. Dingle took the voice/instrument cross-over to a new level, playing an invisible double bass while providing a scat soundtrack. His antics were endlessly fascinating, and the sound delightful.

Solo Tenor: Oliver Vincent
"The Luckiest"
Soprano Emily Dickens opened the choir's most popular number, Ben Folds' "The Luckiest". After a sensual introduction of melting chords, tenor Oliver Vincent sang a commanding solo, with the icing on the cake provided by the spectacular countertenor voice of Christopher Wardle.

Barnaby Smith took us back to a more sombre and sacred mood with choruses from two transcendent twentieth century "All Night Vigils". The first was Sir John Tavener's anthem "Mother of God here I stand" (setting the words of Mikhail Lermontov) from his oecumenical masterpiece, "The Veil of the Temple". During the seven hour performance this anthem is repeated many times, with ever-rising pitch. The choir chose a 'sensible' key, and repaired to the alter for a more distant and mysterious sound.

"богородице дево"
a moment for reflection
Without a break the choir moved into "богородице дево" (Ave Maria) from Sergei Rachmaninov's "1915 Vespers" for the victims of war. The deft expansion from soft grief to explosive rage was perfectly executed, dying away to leave once more the soulful and comforting tones of Dingle Yandell's bass voice.

The first half closed with another visit to the exciting world of Italian renaissance polyphony. From Russian, the choir switched adroitly to Latin for Giovanni Gabrielli's grand motet, "Jubilate Deo". Andrea Haines and Emily Dickens opened with a celestial soprano duet, for the extreme left and right of the stage. The men ranged between them with the tenors in the centre, a perfect set-up for the waves of corruscating sound rising and falling gently between the different voices - which sometimes sounded impossibly as if they came from more than eight people. Alternately celebratory and mournful, the music was perfect to send the audience away wanting more.

While the choir rested, Alex invited the audience to help themselves to free wine and soft drinks. The audience was so large that two bars were needed, one at each end of the church. Even then the queues took quite a time to get to the goodies, while everyone marvelled at the music they had just enjoyed.

Soprano Duet: "Fire! Fire!"
Emily Dickens & Andrea Haines
with Sam Dressel,
Barnaby Smith & Dingle Yardell
The choir returned for the second half without ceremony, and gently re-established the contemplative mood of the first half with the opening track from their latest Decca recording, "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est" (Where grace and love are, there God is) by contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo.

Emily Dickens and Andrea Haines provided another sweet soprano duet, and it did not go unnoticed that during the interval they had changed into the two new outfits. The men still sported the same stylish royal blue whistles and winkle-pickers - a very impressive look.

Oliver Vincent gave a little background on Ola Gjeilo, and the exciting news that Ola has agreed to become the 'composer in residence' for Voces8.

Lightening the mood slightly the choir sang Bob Chilcott's arrangement of the traditional spiritual "Were you there?" back-to-back with the modern spiritual "Underneath the stars" by Kate Rusby. The combination was perfect, and the delivery simple and gently religious.

The soft opening canon by the sopranos led into a caressing quartet in collaboration with the countertenors. Without increasing the volume or force, the full choir joined in with their ululating echo. The move from "Were you there?" to "Underneath the stars" was almost imperceptible, starting with Emily Dickens' opening solo "O go gently" against the melting harmonies of the men. A very special surprise was the complementary bass solo by Dingle Yandell. The evocation of a starlit night, and the promise and disappointment of love, were expounded with crystal clarity by the clearly distinguished and diametrically opposed voices of soprano and bass.

Solo Soprano: Andrea Haines
with Christopher Wardle,
Sam Dressel & Dingle Yardell
'the gossiping women'
Baritone, Paul Smith, re-introduced a classical flavour with an English madrigal and a French secular 'chanson', by Thomas Morley and Pierre Passereau.

Paul explained that Morley's "Fire! Fire!" was somewhat risqué (being about the 'fire' of love). At some time in the past, the more inflammatory words have been replaced by the mediaeval equivalent of 'expletive deleted' - the nonsense sounds "Fa-la-la".

Armed with this knowledge, the audience were highly amused to discover that nearly all of the song had been converted to "Fa-la-la", including the drawn out final words - whatever they had been!

"Fire! Fire!" was a song for two sopranos with just one each of tenor, countertenor and bass - Sam, Barnaby and Dingle.

Solo Soprano: Andrea Haines
with Christopher Wardle,
Sam Dressel & Dingle Yardell
'the clucking chickens'
For Passereau's "Il est Bel et Bon", Andrea Haines sang solo with tenor, countertenor & bass. This time, the countertenor was Christopher Wardle, who explained the onomatopoeic tricks of the song (which might be inferred from the title), where the high register is used to represent gossiping women in the marketplace, or alternatively clucking chickens! Against Dingle's gently reproving tones, the 'ladies' chattered enchantingly.

As the concert progressed, the programme slipped gently off-piste. Oliver Vincent started a systematic deviation from the script, which continued for the remainder of the concert. He returned to the programme of the first half, and the promised Jimmy Van Heusen number (arranged by regular Voces8 contributor Jim Clements), "Ain't that a kick in the head". In this tenor showcase, Oliver was Dean Martin opposite Sam Dressel's Frank Sinatra. In a fitting tribute to 'Old Blue Eyes' and 'The Rat Pack', the choir provided a six-piece orchestra to embellish Oliver and Sam's syncopated crooning.

Oliver Vincent: "Mrs Robinson"
Barnaby Smith took us further afield with something by Simon and Garfunkel. After a brief mention of their work with the Voces Cantabile Music teaching programme at the Gresham Centre in London, and the Voces8 'Friends' scheme ( - please do sign up!), Barnaby introduced the song requested for their Christmas tour in Japan: "Mrs Robinson". Emily Dickens, Andrea Haines and Dingle Yandell provided the backing for another solo performance by Oliver Vincent, with a cameo appearance by Emily Dickens - "Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes, Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home." A sentimental trip down memory lane.

"I won't dance!"
Emily Dickens & Sam Dressel
are Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire
Emily got another chance to shine, this time as Ginger Rogers opposite Sam Dressel's Fred Astaire in "I won't dance" by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Contrary to the sentiment of the words, the singers do dance - very elegantly, with no loss of projection or balance in their voices. As they neared the end of a long and demanding programme, this was no mean feat.

Dingle gave the last introduction - with a brief plug for the choir website and facebook page. Their last song was a peach, an arrangement for the Swingle Singers, by Ben Parry, of Duke Ellington's "Don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing." This fabulous collection of variations, delivered with huge energy and inventiveness, took the concert across the finishing line in top gear.

Called back to the stage by a delighted audience, Barnaby reassured us all that Voces8 will be back in the West Country again soon. Look out for them in the Milton Abbey Festival (Blandford Forum in Dorset, Monday 27 July - Sunday 2 August).

Do what?
Emily Dickens is 'The Queen of the Night'
Voces8 will be open the festival on Monday night - and close it in a concert of Purcell and Handel with the Gabrieli Consort on Sunday afternoon. (See festival website for details.)

Just to polish off the evening, Voces8 took to the stage one last time for a medley of opera arias and choruses, an opportunity for each singer to show off their exceptional skills one last time. Skipping between operas with ease, the choir kept the pace going, and impressed us with each 'turn'. However, one extract threatened to stop the show, "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" (The fury of hell boils in my heart) from Mozart's "Magic Flute". This comic pastiche for coloratura went once again to soprano, Emily Dickens.

Alex West was warm in his praise of the visiting musicians, described by St Michael's incumbent, Father Tom Honey, as the climax of the concert series (with no disrespect to the other artists). The entire audience agreed, and showed their sincere gratitude to the church committee for arranging such an auspicious event and ensuring such a good audience - and to Voces8 for a first class evening of music.

Many thanks to all involved.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Final programme for David Acres' Counterpoint Concert Buckfast Abbey Saturday 20 June 2015

James Bowman

Counterpoint's FREE June 20th concert is just around the corner.
The final programme has just been decided - after a little 'too-ing and fro-ing' -
David Acres tying himself up in knots with what they're singing and what they're not singing!
All of James Bowman's pieces will be sung with the baroque organ accompaniment
and the programme is as follows:

Edward Woodall Naylor:
"Vox dicentis, 'Clama' "

Psalm 130:
"Out of the depths I cried unto thee, O Lord"

Thomas Tallis:
"O nata lux, de lumine"
(James Bowman)

William Byrd:
"Ave Verum Corpus"
(James Bowman)

Sergei Rachmaninov:
"Всенощное бдение" (All Night Vigil 1915)
- "Богородице Дево" (Rejoice, O Virgin)  

Morten Lauridsen: "O magnum mysterium"

Eric Whitacre: "Lux Aurumque"

John Sanders: "The Reproaches"


Orlando Gibbons:
"Drop, drop slow tears"
(James Bowman & Counterpoint)

William Byrd:
"Elegy on the death of Thomas Tallis"
(James Bowman)

Sir John Tavener: "Funeral Ikos"

Alonso Lobo: "Versa est in luctum" 

Sir Edward Elgar: "Lux aeterna"

Richard Farrant:
"Hide not thou thy face from us, O Lord"
(James Bowman)

Henry Purcell: Evening Hymn
(James Bowman)

Juan Gutierrez de Padilla:
"Circumdederunt me dolores mortis"
(The sorrows of death have encompassed me)

Eric Whitacre/Charles Anthony Sylvestri:

Pierre Attaingnant: "Tourdion"

FREE Concert

no need to purchase a ticket

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Exeter University Choral Society & Roberto Gallo Summer Opera Concert - Kay House, Duryard 3.00pm Sunday 7 June 2015

Roberto Gallo

Exeter University Choral Society

Kay House Duryard

Sunday 7 June 3pm


Musical Director: Roberto Gallo    

Piano Accompanist: Piers Spencer        

Chairman & Soprano Soloist: Maria Yiting Liu                 

Judyth Aarons, Michael Jones, Monica Ronchi

Guest Baritone: Roderick Hunt

               Henry Purcell: "Dido & Aeneas" (1688)
George Friderick Handel: "Alcina" (1735)                
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: "The Magic Flute" (1791)    
                       Gaetano Donizetti: "Lucia di Lammermoor" (1835)   
                        Guiseppi Verdi: "Simon Boccanegra" (1857)     
     Georges Bizet: "Carmen" (1875)
          ("Habanera": Maria Yiting Liu)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: "Eugene Onegin" (1879)  

Tickets: £8/£5

Free tea and cakes!

EUCS Committee 2015

Exeter University Symphony Orchestra Concert Music from the Silver Screen Mint Methodist Church Friday 5 June 2015

Richard Harvey

Exeter University Symphony Orchestra

Mint Methodist Church - Fore Street

Friday 5 June 6.30-8:30pm


EUSO is the largest orchestra on campus (around 60 members)

Musical Director: Richard Harvey

Richard Strauss: "Also Sprach Zarathustra"
Eric Coates: "The Dam Busters March" 
John Williams: "E.T. Theme (String Quartet)"
Ennio Morricone: "Gabriel’s Oboe"
Barry Gray: "Thunderbirds March" 
Jerome Moss: "The Big Country"
Howard Shore: "Lord of the Rings" - "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 - Movement 2 - “Allegretto” 
Sergei Prokofiev: "Romeo and Juliet" - "Dance of the Knights"
Edward Elgar: "Pomp and Circumstance" 
John Williams: Schindler’s List Theme (String Quartet)
Klaus Badelt/Hans Zimmer "Pirates of the Caribbean" - "The Curse of the Black Pearl"

Tickets: £9 (concession £7 student £5 U8 FREE)

Advance booking:

Monday, 25 May 2015

Andrew Daldorph & The East Devon Choral Society Vivaldi "Dixit Dominus" & Haydn "Nelson Mass" Tiverton Baptist Church Saturday 9 May 2015

Andrew Daldorph

Soprano Chorus
Lisa Hellier
Tiverton Baptist Church is a perfect venue for choral concerts. The body of the church is dominated by the impressive and ornate church organ. Immediately in front of the organ, and to either side, are galleries. These are just the right size to hold the full East Devon Choral Society Choir. The choir stand ten to twenty feet above floor level for a truly commanding performance.

The organ has been here since the nineteenth century. It was built at Henry Willis & Sons Rotunda Organ Works in Campden, and installed by Babbacombe man James Philpott. It has since been restored by George Osmond & Co, based in Taunton.

Conductor & Organist
Andrew Daldorph
& Colin Pettet
On Saturday 9 May, the organ was played by Devon pianist and organist Colin Pettet. Colin has recently moved to Devon. For twenty five years he was orchestra leader in the West End production of Claude-Michel Schönberg & Herbert Kretzmer's musical setting of Victor Hugo's novel "Les Miserables". It is quite a privilege to have such a distinguished musician playing for us here in Devon.

The choir is conducted by another very accomplished organist, and all round musician, Andrew Daldorph. Andrew was formerly an organ scholar at Guildford. Since coming to Devon he has directed two choirs, East Devon Choral Society and Exeter Chamber Choir. Andrew has composed choral music for both choirs. In some instances both choirs perform together. In 2009 they sang Andrew's "Songs of Hope and Creation" in Exeter Cathedral. In May 2011 they joined forces again for a very impressive performance of Edward Elgar's "Dream of Gerontius" at St Paul's Church in Tiverton

Antonio Vivaldi: "Dixit Dominus"

Orchestra Leader
Fiona McLean-Buechel
For Vivaldi's "Dixit Dominus" and Haydn's "Nelson Mass", the East Devon Choral Society were joined by a twenty five piece orchestra, led by Fiona McLean-Buechel. Fiona had seven other violinists with her. Catherine Hayek is regularly heard at choral events, such as the Counterpoint Choir's "Evening of Handel" with James Bowman and Laurence Blyth's performance of Handel's "Samson" with the Exmouth Choral Society. Julie Hill has played violin for many years with Devon Baroque under Margaret Faultless, and subsequently Jonathan Watts. She also joined Margaret Faultless' new ensemble "Gli Amici". They were joined by Phil Belsham, Richard Barlow, Sandra Sutton, Pippa Cotterill and Lyndsay Miller.

Hilary Boxer
The violas were led by Andrew Gillett, who is a regular player with Vicky Evans' 'Divertimento Entertainments'. Also playing viola was Cathryn McCracken, a member of Fiona McLean-Buechel's "Four Seasons" string quartet, plus Tina Bennett and Roger Hendy - Musical Director of the Isca Orchestra in Sidmouth.

In the 'cello section Hilary Boxer led Holly Molyneux, Peter Tamblyn and James Mitchell. (Hilary is one third of the Beare Trio, with clarinettist Chris Gradwell - and pianist Andrew Daldorph!) Rounding out the string sound was the double bass playing of Michael Allnatt.

Piccolo Trumpet Fanfare
Claude Lamon & Brian Moore
In the woodwind, flute was played by Tina Guthrie. Tina directs her own choir, 'The Torbay Singers', who recently performed Bach's "B Minor Mass" at Holy Cross in Crediton, and also plays with the 'Champagne Flutes' quartet. Andrew Maries and Catriona Jackson played seductive oboes, while Andrew Garton's stentorian bassoon made up the woodwind complement.

In the side aisles were four instrumentalists who were essential to the proceedings. For the Vivaldi's "Dixit Dominus", baroque fanfares were provided by Brian Moore and Claude Lamon. Their piccolo trumpets recreated the sound of the early baroque trumpets called for by Vivaldi.

Soprano Chorus
Sally George Daldorph
Brian Moore is lead trumpet with the EMG Symphony  Orchestra. Claude Lamon made a splash last year, when he joined Fiona McLean-Buechel's 'South West Camerata' on St Cecilia's Day (22 November), to provide the baroque trumpet for Handel's "Messiah" with Michael Graham's Exeter University Chapel Choir. (For Haydn's "Nelson Mass" Brian and Claude were joined by a third trumpeter, John Hammonds, and tympanist Sam Felton.)

Just as soon as the concert was opened with furious intensity by the orchestra, they were joined by the massed magnificence of the choir. Eighty two members of the East Devon Choral Society sang on the night. Andrew Daldorph had split the voices into two choirs, each of which was still vast. From ground level he directed his angelic host in the galleries. Audience members had the enviable choice between seats on the ground floor from which, like the conductor, they received the the glorious sound from above, or climbing to the west gallery to receive the singers' sound full-frontal.

From the Gallery
East Devon Choral Society
Even without the voice of Vice-Chairman, Sue North, there were thirty four sopranos. The outstanding voices of Andrew's wife, Sally Daldorph, and Lisa Hellier were front and centre of each choir, where Andrew and Sally's son George could also be seen - making an unscheduled appearance and singing lustily.

The altos and basses were more modest in numbers, but skilfully balanced under Andrew's direction. EDCS Chairman Martyn Green stood proud by the organ in the first bass choir.

Hardest pressed were the tenors. Just eleven men and women made up the two tenor choirs. Adding to their numbers were Andrew's father Martyn Daldorph, and a new and very enthusiastic signing, Fiona's husband Peter McLean-Buechel. How well they held their own in the sensational symphony of sound the choir was creating.

Soprano Soloist
Rebecca Yates
The whirlwind of sound from the orchestra led directly into the opening words of  Psalm 110, "Dixit Dominus Domino Meo" (The Lord said to my Lord). What an opportunity for the choir to show their mettle. Every voice immediately unleashed at full power, with the addition of trumpets almost lost in the delightful deluge.

"Donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum" (I'll make your enemies your footstool) gave each choir section a chance to shine, starting with the gentle beauty of the basses.

Alto Soloist
Rachel Bennett
To complete the effect, the singing of the choir was augmented and interspersed by the highly polished solo singing of four professional soloists.

First to appear were the soprano and alto, Andrew's sister Rebecca Yates and Exeter Cathedral's first female Deputy Lay Vicar, Rachel Bennett. First Rebecca opened a blissful duet, "Virgam virtutis tuae" (The staff of your strength). Then Rachel sang the exhilarating "Tecum Principium" (Sovereignty will be yours).

Tenor & Bass Duet
Nicholas Yates
& Tim Mirfin
After another choral interlude it was the turn of the tenor and bass to sing "Dominus a dextris tuis" (The Lord at your right hand). Rebecca's husband Nicholas Yates is a barrister in London, and also a highly trained tenor. He was joined by full-time opera bass Tim Mirfin. After opening their account in fine style, they gave up the floor to Brian Moore and Claude Lamon (who had surreptitiously sneaked to the opposite side of the auditorium) to exchange fanfares across the hall.

After the "Judicabit" (He will judge), Rebecca Yates took her opportunity to sing a delightful soprano solo, "De torrente in via bibet" (We shall drink from the spring on the road). Often reserved for countertenor, this aria was particularly delightful in soprano form.

All that remained was the 'doxology', "Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum" (Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end). Andrew made sure the choir extracted every ounce of expression from the familiar words, before the final resounding "Amen".

After a ringing round of applause for everyone concerned, it was time for a cuppa and a chat. What a convivial evening this was turning out to be.

Andrew Daldorph
Rebecca YatesRachel Bennett
Nicholas YatesTim Mirfin

Josef Haydn: "Nelson Mass"

Orchestra Leader
Fiona McLean Buechel
From Vivaldi's baroque beauty, Andrew Daldorph and the East Devon Choral Society moved on to the classical genius of Josef Haydn.

His "Nelson Mass" was Haydn's first mass composed for choir with full orchestra and organ. previously the accompaniment had been provided by 'Feldharmonie' - a woodwind octet. However, in 1797 Haydn's patron Nicolaus Esterházy had dismissed the Feldharmonie to save money.

Subsequent editors have added woodwind music to create a work more in keeping with Haydn's earlier work.

Colin Pettet
Haydn completed the mass for the saint day of Nicolaus' consort, Maria Josepha of Liechtenstein - 15th September 1798. He gave it the provisional title of "Missa in Angustiis" (A Mass for Troubled Times).

They were troubled times indeed. Napoleon Bonaparte's armed forces continued to win victories in Europe during the period of composition, and would shortly be threatening Vienna. They had also annexed Egypt and the vital trade routes to the east.

Even as the mass was being performed for the first time, those performing, and those listening, may have been unaware of a reversal in this apparently inexorable process.

Tina Guthrie
On 1st August Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson had led the British fleet in an engagement with Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers in Abū Qīr Bay where Brueys' troop ships had taken up a defensive position near Alexandria.

Virtually all the French ships were destroyed, leaving the French army stranded in Egypt. The British fleet now dominated the Mediterranean. Their success inspired European forces to engage the French in the War of the Second Coalition.

Somehow Haydn's mass became associated with the victory in European thinking, and it was unofficially referred to as "Lord Nelson's Mass". The newly honoured Lord Nelson visited the Palais Esterházy with Lord and Lady Hamilton in 1800, and the new name was adopted permanently.

When Haydn composed the "Nelson Mass", he was near the end of his liturgical composing career. Haydn had just returned from the second of two visits to London, for which he had composed a total of twelve symphonies.

Sam Felton
All of this orchestral experience went into the mass, together with a wealth of expertise in choral composition. Haydn had completed his "Creation" oratorio very shortly before, in April 1798.

Provided with the excellent music of Haydn, and the first class direction of Andrew Daldorph, the East Devon Choral Society were in their element. From their elevated positions they deluged the audience with spectacular sound.

In the brass section, Brian Moore and Claude Lamon were joined by John Hammonds for the opening chorus. This time the baroque sound of piccolo trumpets was replaced by the sound of the valved trumpets of the classical period.

Regular trumpets for Haydn
John Hammonds
Claude Lamon, Brian Moore
The opening fanfare was given additional punch by Sam Felton's kettle-drums. Almost immediately, the choir hit full stride in the familiar "Kyrie Eleison" which was taken up in quivering soprano voice by the visiting soloist, Rebecca Yates.

This exciting interplay between the full emotional power of the choir and the crisp delivery of the visiting opera soloists continued throughout the mass.

Rebecca also led the choir in the exultant "Gloria", in which the deep resonant voices of tenor Nicholas Yates and bass Tim Mirfin took up the tale in a skilfully coordinated canon, "Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis" (And on earth peace to men of good will.)

Four Voice Chorus
Rebecca Yates, Rachel Bennett
Nicholas Yates, Tim Mirfin
After a choral interlude, "Laudamus te" (We praise thee) Rachel Bennett continued "Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam" (We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.)

This exquisite interplay continued for twelve entrancing movements. The orchestra and soloists illustrating each with duets, canons, trios and four voice chorus.

Several instrumentalists were given their opportunity to add extra sparkle with succinct solo section. Not only the strings and trumpets (who made an unexpected and triumphant reappearance in the Benedictus), and of course Colin Pettit's organ playing, but also some of that re-introduced woodwind sound surfaced from time to time.

Andrew Garton
Tina Guthrie had more opportunities for flute flourishes, and Andrew Marlies and Catriona Jackson interjected sweet oboe playing. Almost hidden by Fiona McLean-Buechel's violin section, Andrew Garton was also evident, playing deliciously clear and melting bassoon.

Most impressive of all was the energy and precision of the musical director Andrew Daldorph. He seemed relaxed while simultaneously controlling a vast choir in three sections, his fellow organist (who was watching in his rear view mirror), four very talented soloists - and a twenty five piece orchestra.

Whether coaxing the choir to every greater heights, or reining in their exuberance, Andrew was quick to turn his attention to the other performers at a moment's notice.

Leading from Andrew's left, Fiona McLean-Buechel was highly attentive to his cues, and played with outstanding accuracy - as always.

Philip Belsham & Julie Hill
The doxology at the conclusion of the Gloria is so final, the mass almost seems to be at an end. Certainly those first four movements contain enough thrill and spectacle for a full oratorio.

However, the following eight movements maintain and add to the existing sense of joyous celebration, until the overall effect is almost overwhelming.

The closing "Osanna" of the "Sanctus" eventually brings the emotional experience back down to ground level for the gentle "Agnus Dei", a restful alto solo for Rachel Bennett, and a few parting words from the other soloists.

Congratulations for the Leader
Fiona McLean Buechel
The very last word, however, goes to the choir. Haydn added a special coda, in the form of an extended "Dona Nobis Pacem" (Give us peace).

With the orchestra still in full support, with even a little more of that sweet woodwind sound - and trumpets - the entire choir revelled in the last exhilarating moments of the evening's music.

It was a spectacular end to a concert brim-full of wonder and amazement. Splendid work by the orchestra and soloists, and their conductor Andrew Daldorph, but especially to Tiverton's highly talented and hard-working choir - The East Devon Choral Society.

First Class!

Fiona's Orchestra
Colin Pettet

and four superb soloists

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Substance & Shadow Theatre Company "Tribes and Tribulations" Blackmore Theatre Exmouth Saturday 23 May 2015 (Second Blackmore performance 28 May. Three more performances planned in Exeter - Cygnet 1 June, Barnfield 12/13 June, plus Bristol Wardrobe 26 June)

Tribes & Tribulations
Midge Mullin is Crumb
Becky Rich is Georgie
Mike Gilpin is Sammy
Rachel Milne is Cara

(Photography: Matt Austin)

Thirty years ago and one hundred miles away a convoy of the disenchanted and the dispossessed are heading for "The Rising Sun" - a free festival in the valleys of South Wales. A local greaser gang, actually called "The Dispossessed", provides the security - and the illicit intoxicants.

When a local lad inadvertently gets caught up in their machinations, and his over-enthusiastic younger sister becomes involved too, fear and tension overtake the festival love-in.

Substance and Shadow regular Mike Gilpin is that ill-fated youth from the valleys (Sammy) and Becky Rich is his mis-mentored sibling (Georgie). Their almost child-like relationship is forced up a gear by the appearance of the bike-gang leader's moll (Cara) played by Rachel Milne. Finally, joining the action as if from nowhere, Midge Mullin is the unlikely hero of the tale (Crumb).

Behind the scenes Rosie Mullin executes a faultless lighting sequence, while Samantha Taylor is also in command of the off-stage sound effects. Between them, they create the impression of many scenes and many more characters. The play is in one act of seventy five minutes, during which Rosie and Samantha never miss a beat.

In the wings, Midge Mullin and Mike Gilpin provide the voices of the bikers, and Midge is also responsible for the innocuous tones of the local milk-man on his rounds. Midge also manages to create out of thin air an entire band of travelling festival-goers, who he appears to see standing among the audience.

Sammy's incompetence and Georgie's vulnerability generate a sense of uncertainty and fear even before the introduction of violent criminals into the equation. As the one member of the underground element we meet, Cara is terrifying - much bigger than Georgie and physically very threatening. Rachel Milne's portrayal makes this leather-clad amazon seem almost twice as tall as Georgie. As adversary, and occasionally potential protector, Cara is a very dominant presence on the stage.

Crumb is a masterpiece of creation by Midge Mullin. Presenting himself as a Glaswegian shipworker, cut adrift by the decimation of the shipbuilding industry, Crumb seems out of place wandering the country with his dog Warp (also provided electronically by Samantha Taylor). He seems to be very close to the many members of his 'tribe', but keeps himself to himself once they arrive at the festival. Perhaps he is not quite what he seems.

With this new production, Substance and Shadow Theatre maintain the high standard of drama evident in their previous works. It seems that Midge and Rosie Mullin, and all the team members, work tirelessly in every spare hour, to ensure a steady stream of impressive plays. Classic writing, like Pinter's "Dumb Waiter" and Brenton's "Christie in Love", have benefited from the Substance and Shadow treatment, while their own home-spun yarns, such as "Skin Deep" and "Duplicity", can be relied on to take an audience on a unique voyage into the unexpected.

Tonight's performance at the Blackmore was a world première - to be repeated at the same venue on Thursday. In June the show will come to Exeter, and then move to Bristol. Regular followers of this ideosyncratic Exeter phenomenon will not be disappointed by their latest foray into the confused cultural history of twentieth century Britain.

Blackmore Theatre
7 Bicton Street Exmouth
Venues & Dates:

The Blackmore Theatre
(as part of the 2015 Exmouth Festival)
Saturday 23 May & Thursday 28th May 8pm
Tickets: £5
Box Office: 01395 276681
Book OnlineTicket Source

Cygnet New Theatre
Friars Gate Exeter
Cygnet New Theatre
(as part of the first Cygnet Festival)
Monday 1 June 7pm
Tickets: £8
Box Office: Exeter Tourist Info 01392 665885
Booking Hotline: 01392 277189   
Book OnlineWeGotTickets

Barnfield Theatre Barnfield Road Exeter
The Barnfield Theatre
(Clifford Room)
Friday 12 June & Saturday 13 June 8pm
Tickets:  £8
Box Office: 01392 270891
Barnfield Theatre: 01392 271808 (Mon-Fri 10-4)
Book Online: Barnfield Website

Wardrobe Theatre White Bear Hill Bristol
The Wardrobe Theatre
Friday 26 June 8pm
Tickets: £5
Box Office: 01179 020344 
Book Online: Wardrobe Website

Audience:  16+

Twitter: @SShadowTheatre
Facebook: Substance & Shadow Theatre