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|
& Colin Pettet
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"
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 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.
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
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.
"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.
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
& Tim Mirfin
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.
Rebecca Yates, Rachel Bennett
Nicholas Yates, Tim Mirfin
Josef Haydn: "Nelson Mass"
Fiona McLean Buechel
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.
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.
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.
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|
Claude Lamon, Brian Moore
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
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.
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
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
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.
|and four superb soloists|