Mass appreciation


TCS with Truro Symphony Orchestra at Truro Cathedral, Saturday, 23rd April 2016

Beethoven’s “Hallelujah Chorus”…. no, not a misprint – he really did write one as the finale of a now neglected oratorio, and Truro Choral Society President Michael Galsworthy had suggested that TCS might perform it, so they did! Augmented by Cornwall Youth Choir and Truro School Chamber Choir (nearly 200 voices altogether), plus the usual splendid orchestra, they gave a rousing start to this mostly Beethoven evening.

TCS has recently made a feature of showcasing outstanding local young musicians, and Truro School sixth-former Ellie Sullivan’s performance of Schumann’s Abendlied, arranged for oboe and orchestra by musical director Martin Palmer, was an exquisite “song without words” in her last Truro concert before entering the Royal Academy of Music.

Probably the best-known of all symphonies, Beethoven’s Fifth, directed by Palmer, ended the first half of the programme in an inspiring performance, from the famous opening chords, via a warmly lyrical slow movement with glorious lower strings, to a spirited Scherzo and triumphant finale – a real emergence into daylight.

Dating from the same period as the Symphony, but inevitably overshadowed by the later Missa Solemnis, Beethoven’s Mass in C requires the chorus to sing almost continuously for long sections and express many different moods – devotional in the Kyrie, thrilling in the Gloria, with a concluding Agnus Dei contrasting anxiety and expectation punctuated by lyrical horn calls. A strong solo teamsoprano Cheryl Rosevear, alto Shelly Coulter-Smith, tenor Paul Martyn-West and bass Charlie Murray – blended well together, particularly in the Benedictus. Palmer’s direction made a good case for a neglected work, and the chorus still had enough energy left at the end to reprise the “Hallelujah” from the start of the evening, to great acclaim from the large audience. A fascinating and most enjoyable evening.
Judith Whitehouse, West Briton

TCS helps hospice

2016 Jan TCS Charity Collection (1) ed copyOur performance of Handel’s Messiah on 12th December in Truro Cathedral was a success in more ways than one.

Judith Whitehouse, writing in the West Briton, praised the contributions made by the soloists and Martin Palmer’s direction, which she said “produced some fine effects”. She also described the choir’s singing as “rock solid in the many fugal episodes” and sounding “simply glorious in the final chorus, with a massive crescendo and deceleration at the close”.  A capacity audience filled the Cathedral.

The other great success of the evening was the retiring collection for Little Harbour Children’s Hospice. In the 10 minutes it took for everyone to leave the Cathedral at the end of the concert, the magnificent sum of £917 was donated by members of the audience, orchestra and choir – £90 a minute! We thank everyone for their generosity.

Our Treasurer, Markus Mueller (far left), presented the cheque to Roger Clarke (far right), who was representing Little Harbour, on the steps of Truro Cathedral on Monday, 11th January. Also in the photo are Glynnis Wadham-Smith (TCS Vice Chair) and Colin Scofield (TCS Publicity Officer).


Messiah at Truro Cathedral


Martin Palmer with Felicity Turner and Imogen Hancock

“What is the collective noun for Messiahs? There seem to be a lot of them around at this time of year! This was probably the largest I’ve heard for some time, with the massed ranks of Truro Choral Society augmented by the choirs of the three local senior schools – over 200 voices in all. Rehearsals must have been fun.

It’s always good to welcome back David Webb, and his ‘Comfort ye’, expressive and judiciously decorated, set the tone for a vigorous interpretation – bass George Humphreys (also currently in Jonathan Miller’s production of The Mikado at the Coliseum – such versatility!) gave the heavens a really thorough shaking, and mezzo Felicity Turner’s dramatic ‘refiner’s fire’ was equally spirited. Cornish soprano Lydia Mee, in her debut with TCS, was understandably a little hesitant at first, but grew in confidence, her performance culminating with a radiant ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’.

Martin Palmer’s direction of the large choir produced some fine effects – a sprightly ‘For unto us’, and a splendid sequence of five vividly contrasted choruses in Part Two, interspersed with Felicity Turner’s exquisite ‘He was despised’ and David Webb’s clear narrative passages. The chorus coped well with some brisk speeds – ‘Hallelujah’ almost too fast – and were rock-solid in their many fugal episodes. As always, great orchestral accompaniment, with the added bonus of harpsichord (Joseph O’Berry) plus chamber organ (Luke Bond, who also sprinted upstairs to the Father Willis for extra volume).

I always moan about items being cut, but appreciate the need – two and a half hours plus interval, otherwise – but Part One really does need to end with a chorus, and it didn’t (lose half a star for that!). I always miss the ‘middle bit’ of ‘The trumpet shall sound’ – no one ever does it – but what a treat it was to hear George Humphreys and solo trumpet Imogen Hancock. The trumpets were back at the periphery for the final chorus, which sounded simply glorious, with a truly massive crescendo and deceleration at the close that shouldn’t have worked but did – ‘Amen’ to that!”
Judith Whitehouse, West Briton

Lydia Mee

Lydia Mee

Felicity Turner

Felicity Turner

David Webb

David Webb

George Humphreys

George Humphreys


TCS at Choral Evensong

MD93153  -  Chris Gray directing TCS members  singing with the Cathedral Choir in Choral Evensong 6 November 2015  from a large high resolution original Over 100 of our members took part in Choral Evensong at Truro Cathedral on Friday 6 November and it was an experience that left a deep impression on all of us.

Christopher Gray, director of music at the Cathedral, gave us a very warm welcome after we had assembled in the Quire and talked about the history and content of the service. We were then joined by the boys and men of the Cathedral Choir for an hour’s rehearsal, during which we were taken through Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C, Parry’s “I was glad” and the hymn Now Thank We All Our God. This was when we were so glad that we had been well prepared for this by our music director, Martin Palmer, and Russell Pascoe.

Robin (TCS tenor) observed: “A memorable experience, singing with the brilliant Cathedral Choir. We can learn so much from new challenges such as forming two choirs. Impressive concentration was shown by the children as they rapidly learnt the music yet still watched the inspirational Christopher Gray.”

After rehearsal we remained in our seats while the Cathedral Choir left to put on their surplices and cassocks, and by 5.30pm, a good-size congregation had assembled for the start of Evensong. After a hushed silence, the Cathedral clergy and choir processed into the Quire and, for the next 45 minutes, we were privileged to be part of an event that none of us will forget.

Chris Gray directing TCS members  singing with the Cathedral ChoTCS alto Joy said: “It was a great experience, and so intimate to be looking into all four sides of the choir instead of out to the congregation. Parry’s ‘I was glad’ was so celebratory, a real joy to sing, and Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis just so much part of the service.”

Our kind reviewer Judith Whitehouse, who also happened to be in the congregation, commented, “Now we just have to get you some cassocks and surplices!” And it is true to say that Gray made us feel welcomed and an integral part of his choir.

When Evensong ended, we had only 10 minutes to assemble in front of the High Altar to have a photograph taken, as another event was to follow at 6.30pm. We are lucky to have an excellent photographer in the choir (Crispin Geohegan, bass) and our thanks go to him for the beautiful images he captured.

The last word must go to local composer Russell Pascoe: “A truly memorable event. A superb performance of ‘I was glad’ and great to hear the Stanford at the correct tempo. I hope this will become an annual event.”



Choral Evensong at the Cathedral

© James Ram (

When TCS take part in Choral Evensong in Truro Cathedral on 6th November it will be the first time we have done so in our 53-year history. We will join Truro Cathedral Choir to sing Parry’s “I was glad” and Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C. The service commences at 5.30pm, with Christopher Gray as Music Director.

The Cathedral Choir is made up of 18 boy choristers and 12 men. With over 100 members of TCS joining them and the accompaniment of the 2,700-pipe Henry Willis organ, this should be a memorable occasion.

The normal running order of Evensong is: responses, welcome by the priest, psalm, bible reading, Magnificat, bible reading, Nunc Dimittis, the Creed, responses (including the Lord’s Prayer), anthem, prayers, hymn and, finally, responses.

Anyone is welcome to attend Evensong, so come and enjoy the beautiful music and the amazing architecture of the Cathedral. We have loved rehearsing these pieces and are very much looking forward to taking part in the service.

IMG_6284 IMG_6280 Freya Truro Cathedral Concert (18 of 26)

Our new accompanist

At the start of this term, we welcomed Joseph O’Berry, who joins us for 2015/16. Joseph tells us he is thrilled to be accompanying Truro Choral Society this season and looks forward to all the joys this experience will provide.

He comes to Truro as the Cathedral organ scholar, having completed one year at Blackburn Cathedral as organ scholar. Whilst there he played an active role in the administration of the music department and wider Cathedral community, playing four services a week and assisting in the Cathedral’s Music Outreach Project “Sing Together”.

A native of Georgia, USA, Joseph was Director of Music at Holy Trinity Parish Church in Atlanta, where he oversaw a comprehensive RSCM-based music programme for adults, youth and children. In Atlanta he was appointed Chapel Organist for the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he played for Eucharist services and was Collaborative Artist in Residence for the Candler Chorale.

From 2009-12 Joseph read Organ Performance, with a secondary emphasis on collaborative piano, at The Townsend School of Music at Mercer University. He is a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians and a Colleague of the American Guild
of Organists (CAGO).

An active parishioner at the Episcopal Cathedral of St Philip, Atlanta, he sang with Cathedra Schola in their 2013 Pilgrimage to England, during which they served as Choir in Residence for two weeks consecutively at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and Canterbury Cathedral.

TCS plays the Royal Albert Hall

Twenty-three of our members joined a 2,000-strong choir on 12th July 2015 to sing The Armed Man by Sir Karl Jenkins. The event had been organised by The Really Big Chorus and the performance took place in the Royal Albert Hall at 7pm.

The conductor, Brian Kay, impressed everyone from the moment he stepped onto the podium for morning rehearsal at 11am. His clear direction was delivered with much humour (“If you continue to sing a B flat instead of a B natural it will sound more like Stockhausen than Karl Kenkins!”) This meant that by the afternoon rehearsal, with full orchestra, there was a marked improvement in dynamics, clarity and timing. For example, in the morning rehearsal, the tricky exposed section for unaccompanied basses and tenors – Save Me From Bloody Men – was very ragged. By the afternoon it was delivered perfectly. It should be mentioned that we were greatly helped by the fact that our Music Director Martin Palmer had prepared us so well for this piece when TCS performed it in Truro Cathedral in 2013, so we had a head start on some others.

The massed choirs at the RAH were fired up to produce an evening public performance that the audience and singers alike clearly found exhilarating and moving (the hushed silence after the final chord said it all). The concert also raised funds for the National Autistic Society.

Part of the fun was meeting members of other choirs and swapping experiences (one of our tenors was even given a miniature koala bear by the Australian contingent attending!). It was also an opportunity for TCS members to get to know each other better. Most went up in a group on the Friday and stayed in a university hall of residence. Dining out together and attending either La bohème at Covent Garden or Fauré’s Requiem at St Martin-in-the-Fields on the Saturday night helped to bond the group in a way that can only be beneficial for the whole choir.

Our thanks go to Maura Clarke for organising the trip and to Dee Hughes for arranging some of the social aspects.

Everyone who took part looks forward to repeating the experience at another concert being organised by The Really Big Chorus next year.

IMG_1734    rah july 2015 015    rah july 2015 017

WP_20150712_10_54_54_Pro rah july 2015 020    rah july 2015 026


End of Season 2014/15

A big thank you to Paul-Ethan Bright for his below review of our concert in Truro Cathedral, on Saturday, 13th June (which also appeared in the West Briton). The programme consisted of Rachmaninov’s Bogoroditse Devo, conducted by James Orford; Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2, soloist Paul Comeau; and Sir Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, with the four soloists joining us from Royal Academy of Music. Truro Choral Society Music Director Martin Palmer conducted the latter two items. (For our preview, published in the West Briton on 4th June, head here.)

“A rather introspective programme was presented by Truro Choral Society and Truro Symphony Orchestra, a Rachmaninov first half followed by Michael Tippett’s secular oratorio, A Child of Our Time.

“The choir opened with Bogoroditse Devo, the last movement of Rachmaninov’s famous Vespers, a setting of Ave Maria. This first item was conducted by Truro Cathedral’s organ scholar, James Orford, making his directorial debut. The chorus were supported by the string section, giving the sound an extra luminosity. Orford’s simple yet definite conducting allowed the music to speak for itself without any fussiness unbecoming of the piece, while the choir’s diction of the Russian text spoke well into the Cathedral acoustic.

“All change at the front for the second item, Rachmaninov’s C minor second Piano Concerto, as Martin Palmer took the stand alongside the soloist, Paul Comeau. While the second movement is probably the most familiar (a favourite of Classic FM Hall of Fame, no less), this performance showed us that the whole work is just as approachable – the opening Moderato: allegro finds the piano sounding out the deeps before the orchestra joins, more or less taking the spotlight away from the soloist before a majestic climax that restates the initial theme, taking us to the sparkling cadenza. Comeau was surely in his element here, at turns deftly maintaining his part in the orchestral texture, before blazes of sheer virtuosity, relayed throughout the Cathedral via the cameras so those further back wouldn’t miss out – a real delight!

“The second movement, the Adagio sostenuto, was a super-smooth episode of pure romantic relaxation, with eloquent solos from flute and clarinet. The finale, the Allegro scherzando, allowed for more dramatic elements to surface, balanced by the lyricism of the orchestral woodwinds, before building tension considerably to the final cadenza – Comeau once again holding the attention of the entire Cathedral.

“What elevated this performance, for me, was not just Comeau’s undeniably sublime playing, or Palmer’s well-mannered and sympathetic conducting, but the communication between the two of them, giving the concerto a calm, collected air. A rousing ovation followed, with plenty of well-deserved cheers for Comeau, a real local hero on Truro’s musical scene.

“As the programme reminded us, A Child of Our Time ‘…can never be comfortable’; a deeply personal statement by the composer conceived as a musical protest. The atmosphere was electric from the opening chords, with Palmer’s clear direction inspiring the choir to come in confidently on some exceptionally difficult leads. The young team of soloists added to the mood, their voices commanding in their own right, yet blending well when together. The five Negro Spirituals were particularly moving, Steal Away as a stand-out triumph, with a beautiful, sustained tone from the soprano soloist.

“While this concert’s programme was more inward-looking than one might usually expect from Truro Choral Society, they acquitted themselves with a dignity befitting the music during another evening of exciting music making.”

In addition, we received these kind words from Michael Galsworthy, President of Truro Choral Society, in the week following the concert:

“I greatly enjoyed the TCS concert on Saturday evening and thank you so much for introducing me to the choir members beforehand. As I said, I count it a great privilege to be the TCS President and will continue to support as many concerts as I can when I am not in London.

“In the meantime, my warmest congratulations to the TCS for the performance of the Rachmaninov Bogoroditse Devo and also Tippett’s A Child of Our Time. I thought the performance of the Rachmaninov piece was really excellent and delivered with great sensitivity. The Tippett is of course both complex and, from a singer’s point of view, more demanding, but again my congratulations to everyone for their performance.”


Paul Comeau in rehearsal

Soprano Lorena Paz Nieto

Soprano Lorena Paz Nieto

headshot 1

Mezzo-soprano Claire Barnett-Jones

Alexander Bevan - Tenor

Tenor Alexander Bevan

Christopher Dollins - Bass

Bass Christopher Dollins


“Precise dynamic contrasts…”

Thanks to Judith Whitehouse for her highly enjoyable review, below, of our performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, which also appeared in the West Briton. The concert was held in Truro Cathedral on Saturday, 21st March, and we were joined on the day by Truro School Chamber Choir, Truro School Choral Society and Cornwall Youth Choir, who had all rehearsed the piece separately. For our preview, which also appeared in the West Briton, head here.


Paul Comeau at rehearsal

“How do you like to spend your birthday? For Martin Palmer the answer is conducting Truro Choral Society plus two of Truro School’s choirs and the Cornwall Youth Choir — almost 200 voices in all — in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle at Truro Cathedral.

“But first, he was given a present — the composer/pianist Paul Comeau, inspired by the coincidence of Palmer and JS Bach sharing a birthday (Bach’s 330th), produced a set of variations for piano and organ on Happy Birthday, played by himself and Cathedral Organ Scholar James Orford. I’m pretty sure it started with The Pink Panther, proceeding via I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside and similar classics, culminating in a pastiche of Tchaikovsky. I thought I’d written them all down, but have mislaid my Chopin Liszt! Needless to say, great fun was had by all.

“You don’t expect fun in a solemn mass, but Rossini had other ideas — from the decidedly jaunty introduction on piano and organ (the Cathedral Father Willis impersonating the specified harmonium) the massed voices entered into the spirit of the work with precise dynamic contrasts and splendid intonation in the unaccompanied passages. The overtly operatic mood of the Gloria introduced the soloists — soprano Cheryl Rosevear and mezzo Rebecca Smith blending ravishingly in their duet, bass Mark Williams powerful and dramatic, and tenor Anthony Mee in full ‘divo’ mode in Domine Deus, with irresistible Tiptoe Through the Tulips accompaniment from Comeau.

“Palmer’s direction made the most of Rossini’s idiosyncratic blend of genial exuberance and underlying devotional commitment, and the singing remained fresh, even in the excessively protracted Amens — 24 pages of them! The chorus also blended well with the soloists — the Sanctus and Agnus Dei fittingly displaying a more serious mood. Splendid accompaniment throughout, even though Comeau and Orford couldn’t even see each other, adding to the mix of dignity and daftness that Rossini obviously intended — if only he’d cut some of those Amens!”
Thanks also to Sarah Griffiths Photography for these photographs. To see the whole album, visit our Facebook page.

James Orford

James Orford

Mark Williams

Mark Williams

Anthony Mee, tenor

Anthony Mee

Cheryl Rosevear, soprano, and Rebecca Smith, mezzo

Cheryl Rosevear and Rebecca Smith




Christmas celebrations

IMG_7097After the hugely enjoyable performance of the Coronation Mass, Music Director Martin Palmer moved swiftly on to focus the choir on preparing the Christmas programme for the December concerts to be held at St Piran’s RC Church, Truro, and Eden Project. Along with a beautiful selection of carols, including the Sans Day and Coventry Carol, and a couple of our favourite movements from the Messiah, Palmer also picked the Spirituals by Tippett. A collection of eight-part works, the Spirituals required careful rehearsal and members were very pleased to be able to give a worthy performance of them on 19th December at St Piran’s. Accompanying us were Truro Symphony Orchestra and four impressive young soloists: James Orford, the current TCS accompanist and Truro Cathedral organ scholar; Paul-Ethan Bright and Charlie Murray, who are both members of Truro Cathedral Choir and have performed as soloists with TCS in the past; and Eleanor Sullivan, who not only delighted with her beautiful soprano voice but also gave an exquisite recital of Mozart’s Oboe Concerto.

10888436_840571965985494_901391932721206232_nAnother big part of the evening was our decision to be part of CLIC Sargent’s Cornish Christmas Countdown, and a collection was held during the interval and at the end, raising the fantastic amount of £650. CLIC Sargent provide clinical, practical and emotional support to children and young people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to their work, Cornish families have access to free self-catering accommodation at the charity’s Home from Homes in Bristol, allowing them both to stay close to their child receiving treatment and to stay together as a family. The charity also provides funds for two specialist CLIC Sargent nurses and three social workers across the county to support those affected by cancer at home; in 2013, they were able to help 74 Cornish families. For further information on the charity’s work and how to donate, visit

The morning after the concert, a smaller version of the choir, the orchestra members and the soloists headed to Eden Project to do almost exactly the same thing all over again, in the relaxed and beautiful setting of the Citrus Grove in the Mediterranean Biome. Listeners perched on low, whitewashed walls by nascent vines or knelt on rugs nearby, and birds once again joined in with the performance – “It was wonderful to hear the music and voices rising up round the biome,” a visitor told us afterwards.

Returning after the Christmas break, we welcomed a representative from CLIC Sargent to our first rehearsal, where we were all delighted to be able to hand over a cheque for the £650 that had been raised on 19th December. And the West Briton and kindly recorded the handover.

A perfect way to wrap up 2014.

CLIC Sargent Photo 2 original

CLIC Sargent volunteer representative Katie Wild receiving the cheque for £650 from TCS