Concert Reviews

Extracts from reviews of our concerts in the local press are posted below.  When available, there are downloadable  programme notes on the pieces that we performed.

April 2024: Faure "Requiem" and Goodall "Eternal Light" (with orchestra and soloists) 

"Choral society concert of two halves"  " two works based on the Requiem Mass separate by 120 years of composition" "Sensitive work in the Kyrie" "Stephanie Berner and Jamie Rock gave solid performances" "poetry sung by soloists with choral accompaniment  and Lead Kindly Light for full chorus was effective" "Marcus encouraging all his forces to take full advantage of the Methodist Church's generous acoustics, which they did with relish" "The society is commended on bringing this work to Minehead and an opportunity for a second hearing would be welcome. " 

November  2023:  An Evening of Christmas Music

"Full of Joy and Warmth" "The choir managed a balance of sound particularly with the small number of tenors and basses, who came to the fore in the Candlelight Carol" "...strong and lively performance"  "Charpentier's Messe de Minuit celebrates the joyful new of the Birth of Christ with cheerful happiness" "The singing was a delight, from the perky opening Kyrie through the Gloria and Sanctus and Benedictus, The singing had bounce and energy."  "solos beautifully sung by tenor David Joysey." "The Choral Society is blessed to have Angela Morecroft as the accompanist for rehearsal and on the night... beautiful flute playing of Nicole Willis added so much..." "we sang  favourite carols lustily with encouraging support from organist Sue Donovan" "conductor Marcus Capel controlled his resources to the maximum on the night and provided West Somerset with another huge musical experience" 

25 March 2023: Karl Jenkins "Stabat Mater" and Choral Classics (with orchestra and soloists)

"Startlingly Emotional" "Glorious assault on unsuspecting ears!"  "Relentless percussion, wailing wind instruments and a blinding swirl of strings combined with a full-throated, anguished chorus...The effect was electrifying." " Richly gifted contralto soloist Helena Payne...ranged outrageously in pitch and vocal colour" "Tears were shed in the multilingual chorus And the Mother did weep...welcome serenity in Ave Verum" "Marcus Capel directed the whole work thoughtfully and clearly" "Complete reliability of leader Mary Eade and the perfectly-mannered and disciplined Taunton Sinfonietta"  "The Choral Society nowadays is a responsive coherent choir" "voices and orchestra lapped over each other in well-judged counterpoint and almost perfect intonation."   "Strong, incisive singing and playing brought a delightful evening to an an end in a glorious blaze." 

26 November 2022: Handel's Messiah, selected Choruses and Arias and Vivaldi "Gloria" (with soloists)

"Superb Performance" "So good to be able to hear the society sing again without the need for masks!" "Stephanie Berner gave a moving rendition of "I know that my redeemer liveth"  "received well-deserved applause" "Angela Morecroft ...rose to the challenge with aplomb" "Helena Payne...a true contralto with wonderful low notes" "Marcus took the opening of the Gloria at a good speed with the choir really enjoying themselves" "It was impressive to see how many of them were watching the conductor"  "everyone obviously benefitted from being well rehearsed."   "tremendous fun"

2April 2022: "Choral Classics" (with soloist)

"The well known, well loved - and an evening of delights"  "What a joy in these uncertain times to be thrilling to the sound of the human voice once more!"  "The society's reputation for music of the highest standards is well-known"  "the choir demonstrated their superb control and timing as they soared and swooped through these familiar pieces." "The choir, Stephanie Berner thesoloist, accompanist and conductor had brought us what we needed right now - the familiar, the prayerful, a sharing, most of all they gave us the harmony to make something beautiful happen" 

27 December 2021: A night of Lloyd-Webber, including "Joseph"

" Welcome Back Minehead Choral Society!"  "... great to have live music back again..." "a huge eclectic mix of styles" "Kirsty and Paul Yates combined beautifully " "David Pitts played a lot of notes on the piano..." "Nigel McBrayne gave us a great Elvis impression" "The small group of tenors and basses managed the French accent and big, belty high notes very effectively"  "Small numbers in some sections of a choir can often mean a lack of balance but this wads not the case and the choir blended well together." "Marcus Capel, sporting his amazing technicolour cummerbund, kept all in control..." Congratulations to Marcus and David for producing an excellent and very enjoyable evening"

14 December 2019:   Jenkins "Stella Natalis" with Christmas Carols for audience participation (with orchestra and soloists)

"A wonderful evening with Minehead Choral Society" "....a concert of two halves and both halves were much enjoyed and appreciated." "...confidently led by the Taunton Sinfonietta and performed convincingly by the choir." "demanding vocal lines were well negotiated." " Highlights of the performance must include the soprano soloist, Stephanie Berner, who brought a wonderful range of sound and style.. floating gently...attacking ….with great sparkle and enthusiasm." "The choir rose admirably to the occasion, Marcus Capel conducted them confidently through a convincing performance."  "It was lovely to hear carols accompanied by the Sinfonietta and the appreciative audience was left in no doubt that the Christmas season had begun."

Programme notes

28 March 2019:   Choral Classics and Handel "Messiah" (with orchestra and soloists)

"Spirited concert of Choral Classics" "The evening belonged to the chorus. They sang with verve and passion and managed the difficult runs with crisp accuracy." "...moving unaccompanied them the opportunity to show how good they are at pianissimo singing." "positive and light-hearted which the audience loved" "Well-matched soloists" "after the interval the evening really sparkled" "Andrew Stark on trumpet gave an exciting performance with Owain Browne...very impressive." "...a treat to hear Harriet and Lionel sing O Death...often omitted from performances"  "Krystal gave a performance full of emotion" "The audience gave a huge round of applause and went home humming our favourite bits!"

Programme notes

1 December 2018: Advent Concert including Rutter "Magnificat" and carols for all 

Program Notes November 18, Magnificat etc.pdf Program Notes November 18, Magnificat etc.pdf
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26 March 2018:   Elgar "Spirit of England" and Jenkins "The Armed Man" (with orchestra and soloists)

"Choir and Orchestra performed with gusto and finesse" "The choir presented a thoughtful and evocative programme of remembrance" "Marcus Capel kept the choir and orchestra under tight reins, never being allowed to wallow" "...a reflective tone throughout the evening's performance." ""The choir were in fine voice, sounding expressive and cohesive, sympathetically supported by the orchestra." "Leonel Pinheiro, a new tenor soloist to Minehead...silky and warm baritone tones as well as a formidable tenor range...impressive, measured interpretation" "The acoustics of the church fully supported the atmosphere of the evening" "lyrical soprano solo beautifully sung by Jackie Butterworth" "We were left with a sense of well-being after this thoughtfully presented concert."

Programme notes

25 November 2017:   Puccini  "Messa di Gloria" and opera favourites (with orchestra and soloists)

"A wonderful evening with Minehead Choral Society" "Minehead was treated to a wonderful evening of musical entertainment" ".wonderful tenor solo section sung by Stuart Laing..the choir really shone, especially the basses with some super melodies to perform" " Jamie Rock followed the Gloria with a spine-tingling Crucifixus..." "the three soloists really excelled. Krystal Mcmillan...completely effortless...Jamie fabulous...acting skills...truly memorable performance" "The choir sang with real enthusiasm and joy and clearly enjoyed the variety of the evening." "The conductor was the wonderful Marcus Capel, superbly accompanied by the Taunton Sinfonietta."

Programme notes (draft)

24 March 2017:   Mozart  "Missa Brevis in D" and "Solemn Vespers", Peterson "No Greater Love" (with soloists)

"A varied Easter Concert" "An effective balance of lesser know Mozart works and the Hollywood style of Peterson" "A beautiful rendition of the Mozart Laudate by Jackie Butterworth brought the audience to tears"  "The choir had obviously worked hard to achieve this level of performance... some shaky moments..."..hauntingly beautiful duet between Daphne Midwood and Steve Kingdon ... sensitive accompaniment by Sue Donovan on the piano"

Programme notes (draft)

23 November 2016:  Handel "Messiah" (with orchestra and soloists)

"Uplifted by Handel's Messiah" "..large and appreciative audience..." "From Stuart Laing's ringing notes first proclaiming 'Comfort Ye' we knew we were in for a satisfying evening" "...Harriet Kirk...golden voice...mastery of the difficult runs in the middle section..."  "voices of Krystal McMillan,  Stuart and Jamie Rock have matured" "Jamie's heartfelt rendering of  'Behold I tell you a mystery' followed by a lively performance of the great duet 'The Trumpet' ... trumpet part brilliantly played by Andrew Stark " "Keith Jones took over the continuo part at very short notice... wonderful support" "...evening belonged to Marcus and the choir. As always, their sweet and rounded tone made them a pleasure to hear."  "Marcus had speeded up the tempi since the last performance in 2012, which gave the music a dancing feel which was lovely to hear" "Congratulations to choir, orchestra, soloists and conductor...wonderful evening...standing ovation...all gone home uplifted by this great work."

Programme Notes

19 March 2016:  Vivaldi "Gloria", Fauré "Cantique de Jean Racine", "Mozart" Requiem (with orchestra and soloists)

"Minehead Choral Society was excellent in performance"  "What an evening!" "...sweet toned strings ..." "...Sue Donovan...played with aplomb...."  "Sian Cameron's rich tone complemented Krystal Macmillan's soaring soprano...accompanied by the plangent oboe playing of Caroline Tudor"  "The chorus detached the quavers nicely to give clarity to the music...lovely interaction with Sian." "Joined by Stuart Laing and Ryan Ross...all four soloists blended beautifully, particularly in the Recordare" "In charge was Marcus Capel. His musicianship, hard work and dedication enabled the chorus to give of their best" "The evening belonged to the chorus...excellent in ensemble, they brought out the dynamics well and looked as if they were enjoying themselves." "Wasn't that wonderful? Yes!!"

21 November 2015:  Orff "Carmina Burana" and Opera selections (with orchestra and soloists)

"Exciting Orff Performance" "...The orchestra was splendid and treated us in the first half to a delicate and sweetly played violin concerto."  "...applause after the first movement..was well justified..." "It was obvious the choir enjoyed the wonderful choruses giving full voice to the magnificent tunes." "The ladies of the choir should be particularly proud of the fine tones they produced throughout the evening..." "Our guest soloists Krystal, Stuart and Jamie sang wonderfully...showing acting ability as well as wonderful tone and interpretation." "A brave piece to attempt...tricky rhythms...nowhere to hide any mistakes...I need not have worried...Marcus kept a tight hold on both the choir and the orchestra." "The excitement of the piece was immediately felt and had us on the edge of our seats." "Marcus conjured an exciting congratulations to all concerned."

28 March 2015:  Mendelssohn "Elijah" (with orchestra and soloists)

"Choral society's wonderful Elijah" "...a wonderful evening that provided beautiful music, polished performances and a warm welcome ..." "Wonderful Irish baritone Jamie Rock delivered the prophet's curse with such strength and conviction, he set the tone for the whole evening." "Acting almost like a Greek chorus, the choir clearly really enjoyed playing their roles!" "Sophie Yelland's stunning performance of O Rest in the Lord sent shivers down my spine"  "Krystal Macmillan and Stuart Laing joined Jamie and Sophie to provide a truly classy quartet that sang effortlessly with real passion and conviction."  "...members of the choir, Jackie Butterworth and Daphne Midwood, joined the soloists singing with real confidence..." "The light and shade of the whole oratorio were beautifully crafted, so that the audience were led through the story with sensitivity and drama."

24 December 2014:  Vivaldi "Magnificat" and Haydn Te Deum" with Christmas Carols for audience participation

"Choral Society stamped its Mark Magnificently" "...the choristers looked resplendent in their black with a touch of red."  " ...the two leading lights of the choral society, conductor Marcus Capel and accompanist Sue Donovan... took their place on the dot of 7:30" "Marcus and the choir stamped their mark throughout the performance - ranging from lovely gentle flowing harmonies to strong unison singing and ultimately delicious choral harmonies"  "opportunities for soloists to shine...  Jackie Butterworth and Peter Thompson ... a truly delightful liberated moment when Jane Jones and Jackie sang the beautiful lyrical duet."  "both works were greatly appreciated by the audience."  "Readings by Jane Jones, Penny Brown and David Yates gave light, humour and time to reflect and the carols which followed were a joy to hear." " Opening solo of Once in Royal by Angela Morecroft was beautiful. " "...what a pleasure it was to be introduced to new settings of carols"  "The choral society is so fortunate to have Marcus - his energetic leadership is a fabulous contribution to the musical life of people in West Somerset".

29 March 2014:  An evening of Lloyd Webber, including "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

"Superb Evening of Lloyd Webber" "...we knew we were in for something special..."  "...the different sections of the choir showed their strengths..." "..the choir gave a particularly warm and harmonious rendition..." "...Krystal and Stuart demonstrated their flair...soaring conclusion...anguish and drive..." "Beautiful sustained chords from the choir, as Sue Donovan's dramatic accompaniment picked up the recurring theme..." "Wonderful soaring sopranos, strong narrative from the contraltos and rich tones from the tenors and basses." "...Jamie gave the performance of the night with a fabulous accent and mannerisms." "A fitting climax to a superb evening's entertainment."

30 November 2013:  Fauré "Requiem" and Rossini "Stabat Mater" (with orchestra and soloists)

"Delights by Choral Society" "...a moving and satisfying evening..."  "The Choral Society came up trumps reminding us of the beauties of this Requiem" "Krystal Macmillan sang the Pie Jesu with great feeling..." "Marcus Capel's enthusiasm and hard work brings out the best in his singers." "Impressive interjections from baritone, Jamie Rock" "The well-matched quartet of soloists - Krystal and Jamie were joined by Helen Stanley and Stuart Laing -  produced some exciting singing, both as a quartet and in their solo pieces." "Special mention must be made of Stuart's ringing performance of the well known tenor aria with a wonderful top D flat at the end." "...the large and enthusiastic audience..." "...the orchestra supported with some impressive playing."

16 July 2013:  Patriotic Prom

"Patriotic Proms Expanded Chests" "...a rampant finale of flag-waving and lusty vocal-cord stretching..." "Informative programme notes kept the good-sized audience in touch" "...everyone sailed out into the cooler evening air, chests expanded with a little more patriotic feeling in their hearts."

23 March 2013:  Goodall "Eternal Light" and Gounod "Messe Solonnelle di Sainte Cécile" (with orchestra and soloists)

"Immensely Moving" "A Requiem for our time that was sensitively performed and immensely moving"  "...spine tingling Litany that had the audience entranced." "The whole choir excelled in their rendition of the Recordare" "The soloists gave polished and convincing performances" "This was a wonderful evening at a perfect venue that provided beautiful music, polished performances and a warm welcome all at once"

Earlier Reviews

14 November 2012  Handel "Messiah":  "Standing Ovation for Choir" "The Minehead and District Choral Society received a well-deserved standing ovation from a large audience..." "From the opening to the last notes, we were treated to an evening of delightful music making, conducted with precision and clarity by the Music Director, Marcus Capel."  "The Taunton Sinfonietta accompanied the choir with skill and understanding." "The choir can produce a full, sweet tone when required and their pianissimo passages are a joy to hear." "...admirable diction..."

13 March 2012  Stainer "Crucifixion":  "Subtle Handling of Stainer's Crucifixion" "The standard was set at the opening chorus when the choir entered with beautifully balanced and blended quiet singing: restrained yet full of energy. Just the sort of vibrant containment which conductors aim for..." "...the duet of Daphne Midwood and Peter Thompson with Sue Donovan on the piano...The tuning was perfect, the delivery absolutely simple and the ensemble so natural that it created a moment of magic. You could have heard a pin drop."

12 December 2011  Jenkins "Stella Natalis":  "Choral Society Concert received Warm Approbation" "...Congratulations to the choral society...success in bringing this first performance of a new work to Minehead." "...Marcus was in no doubt, drawing full attention to detail from his forces throughout the work in which the effort made in rehearsal was evident." "Warm and thoroughly deserved approbation from an appreciative and satisfied audience..."

11 April 2011  A Night at the Opera:  "Dramatic from the Outset" "One sensed eager anticipation among the full house. Expectations were not disappointed."  ""The sopranos and tenors produced a particularly pleasing sound."  "The choir produced some lovely, confident and well-balanced singing leading to a dramatic climax."  " enthused the audience that they demanded - and got - an encore. A first in the history of the society."

10 December 2010  Charpentier "Messe de Minuit" and Rutter Carols: "Depth of Sound announced the run-up to Christmas" "The programme was an imaginative compilation of festive music to cheer an appreciative audience." "Throughout the programme the choir must be complimented on the quality of their diction - whether in English or Latin each word could be clearly heard."

9 March 2010  Jenkins "Stabat Mater", "Palladio" and excerpts from "The Armed Man":  "Balanced Voices and Orchestra" "The Society's 83 singers demonstrated their continuing improvement under Marcus Capel and were fully supported by the 18 strong Taunton Sinfonietta." "It was clear that all performers were well prepared and the attention to detail was notable with voices and players responding well to their conductor's interpretation." 

8 December 2009  Bach "Christmas Oratorio":  "Auditory bliss amid the hustle" "The chorales were lovingly performed with convincing bass and tenor lines, rock solid and wonderfully resonant altos and sopranos soaring over the top with rhythmical and dynamic accuracy" "...Jackie's lovely voice wrapped us in warmth and Angela provided the wonderfully persistent echo, fabulously pitched and sustained..." "Sue Donovan, at the lovely church organ...being all the instruments that Bach would have used." "...Charismatic leadership of Marcus Capel..." "... Peter Thompson's tall imposing figure made us really listen to his lyrical recitative..." "...It is a joy to watch Marcus conducting - you can feel the vibes of his encouragement and facial expressions reaching out even to the most resistant copy hugging chorister!" "A huge thank you to Marcus, Sue and the committee and to the choir..."

7 April 2009  Haydn "The Creation":  "Balanced Performance of Haydn's Creation" "...a most enjoyable rendering..." "The result of several months' hard work rehearsing...would have been very pleasing to the conductor Marcus and the rehearsal accompanist Sue Donovan." "...the evening was much enjoyed by the audience."

6 December 2008  Rutter "Magnificat", Vaughan Williams "Fantasia on Christmas Carols":  "An accomplished musical start to Christmas" "Throughout the whole programme...Sue Donovan at the organ provided a most sensitive and balanced lead and support for the choir." The spontaneous applause from the appreciative audience was a clear indication of what the choir had achieved." "...excellent solo performance by Jackie Butterworth..." "...a well balanced, wide ranging and thoroughly accomplished Christmas Concert..."

5 April 2008  Jenkins "The Armed Man", Vivaldi "Gloria":  "Glorious Vivaldi and Armed Man" "a large audience were treated to an evening of interest and enjoyment touched with a darker emotion" "...chorus of 85 voices...splendidly accompanied by 20 members of the Taunton Sinfonietta with Sue Donovan at the keyboard." "...delightfully innocent solo voice of young treble Rory Capel..." "Jacqueline Butterworth and Jane Jones sang beautifully" "there were a few blemishes...not all listeners will have noticed the restart of one element which Marcus handled sensitively and to which the forces responded swiftly" " accomplished presentation which demonstrated the continued improvement which the Choral Society is making under Marcus Capel's leadership..."

4 December 2007  Fauré "Requiem", "Cantique de Jean Racine", Mozart "Solemn Vespers":   "Deserving of Applause" "There is a new life about the Minehead and District Choral Society under Marcus Capel" "80 voices and 40 players...intimate to say the least" "...the chorus, clearly well rehearsed...stuck to its task and...shored the whole thing up." "...the second half... showed a marked improvement..." "...the singers...actually looked as though they were enjoying themselves!" "...responding to their own conductor with radiant enthusiasm and returning the obvious benefit of hard work in rehearsal."

3 May 2007  75th Anniversary Concert - Mendelssohn "Hymn of Praise", Jenkins "The Armed Man" (excerpts), Handel "Coronation Anthems":  "Alert and Stylish Choral Concert" "...all confidently sung by the choir, clearly the result of much hard work in rehearsal." "Marcus Capel chose sprightly tempi throughout, never letting the music flag."  "The choir's singing was always alert and stylish..." "...the society gave a great deal of pleasure to a large audience and conductor and choir can feel proud of the way they celebrated the 75th anniversary."

2 November 2006  Schubert "Deutsche Messe", Peterson "Night of Miracles":  "Well Prepared Performance" "Schubert's many expression marks were scrupulously observed" "Though the beginning of piano phrases sounded rather tentative, the choir's soft singing was generally fine and the forte passages confidently strong with a good balance of voices." "The singers had been thoroughly schooled in German pronunciation...consistent and convincing" "Sleep Holy Child ...beautifully sung by Jackie Butterworth...the emotional heart of the evening..." "David Yates neatly timed his voice-over narrations" "...spirited performance which was warmly received..." "With his firm control Marcus Capel encourages and inspires his singers. This, his second concert in charge of the society, was a great success."

1 May 2006  Elgar "From the Bavarian Highlands":  Marcus Capel's first concert as Director of Music.  Alas we have no review.