Here are some press comments about Guildford Choral's concerts in recent years.
Opinions from music professionals, audience and choir members can be seen in Meet us - what people say.
Across the Centuries at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford
...There is no doubt this was an evening that will linger long in the memory of those fortunate enough to have experienced the outpouring of some of the best zealously charged sacred music... Click here to read full review.
Peter Burge, 17th June 2016
Verdi's Requiem at G Live, Guildford
...I have nothing but praise for the choir: thrilling fortes, exquisite pianissimi, rhythmic precision whatever the dynamic and a clarity of diction throughout which never ceased to impress. This was clean and precise choral singing at its best, especially in the 'Sanctus', and certainly the best I have heard in this venue. I particularly applaud the 'a capella' singing, the 'Requiem' sections sung from memory and the final 'libera me' - a mere breath of sound... Click here to read full review.
Gillian Ramsden, 19th March 2016
J S Bach, St Matthew Passion at Guildford Cathedral
...a hugely demanding and intricate work and because of the nature of the subject, emotionally draining. Under the careful and inspirational leadership of Jonathan Willcocks, Guildford Choral Society, together with Florilegium gave a performance that was quite simply a triumph...an evening to remember. Click here to read full review.
Nick Crissell, Surrey Advertiser, 13th March 2015
Handel's Messiah at Guildford Cathedral
Guildford Choral and the Hanover Band performed Handel’s monumental Messiah to a sold-out audience in Guildford Cathedral last weekend with great success...
The all-famous Hallelujah, performed without scores in the choir, brought the concert’s loudest and most confident moment yet... Willcocks and his musicians conveyed the numerous changes in mood and tone wonderfully, ending the night on an energetic high. Click here to read full review.
Tom Kilworth, Surrey Advertiser, 26th December 2014
Mozart & Beethoven at Guildford Cathedral
...a concert from which I departed feeling uplifted and happy...just the start of a year of celebration and a great start it was. The choir’s enthusiasm and commitment is clear and will I am sure be maintained. So, here’s to your and our continued enjoyment for this year and for the next 175! Click here to read full review.
Jeff Morgan, Surrey Advertiser, 7th November 2014
The Dream of Gerontius by Elgar at Guildford Cathedral
Particular praise must be reserved, however, for the chorus and its two chorus masters, Jonathan Willcocks and Eric Delson.
For a choir of around 200 voices to produce clear diction, particularly in this acoustic, requires a substantial degree of musicianship, which is seldom experienced... Click here to read full review.
Dr Douglas MacMillan, Surrey Advertiser, 21 March 2014
Family Christmas concert at G Live, Guildford
An audience approaching 1,000 gathered at G Live in Guildford on December 15 for the Family Christmas Concert.
Conductor Jonathan Willcocks introduced and led a lively programme of seasonal favourites, which included contributions from Guildford Choral, St Catherine’s Preparatory School choir, the Southern Pro Musica Brass and soloist Alison Langer...Click here to read full review.
Jeff Thomson, Surrey Advertiser, 27 December 2013
Beethoven's Ode to Joy at the Royal Albert Hall
If the enthusiastic audience reception was anything to go by, Alexandra Dariescu established that she is an artist to listen out for in the future...the Royal and Guildford Choral Societies...were forthright of tone and well trained...Click here to read full review.
London-based online music magazine, musicOMH, June 2013
A Great and Glorious Victory | Haydn's Nelson Mass in G Live
The concert opened with a sparkling and assured performance of Haydn’s Nelson Mass. The choir, as always, was on fine form... Click here to read full review.
Sebastian Forbes, Surrey Advertiser, November 2012
Mendelssohn's Elijah in G Live with Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra
A work like this required deep commitment, and that is what the chorus and orchestra gave in full measure, with bold choral sonorities, a confident well-rehearsed approach to the trickier contrapuntal sections, and a nice degree of soft tones where this was required....This was a superb collaboration, and one that deserves to be repeated.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, June 2012
Handel's Messiah in Guildford Cathedral
The conductor was that doyen of communicators Brian Kay, skilled in training choral societies. His approach to the work was inspirational: rarely have I heard such attention to light and shade in ‘Surely He hath borne our griefs’, or such a superb build-up from a quiet opening to the final great Amen chorus. The choir sang incisively and accurately, not to mention enthusiastically, and were ably accompanied by the excellent instrumentalists of the Hanover Band...the standing ovation was richly deserved.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, March 2012
A Christmas Celebration in G Live
a scintillating evening of Christmas music at G Live.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, December 2011
Fauré and Duruflé Requiems in Guildford Cathedral
Conductor James Morgan paced both works beautifully and there was a glorious send of line, of rise, and of fall from the singers, particularly in Fauré's evocative setting of the In Paradisum.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, November 2010
Howells's Magnificat in Guildford Cathedral
The chorus under James Morgan gave an exuberant rich-toned performance of great fervour, with plenty of contrast in the more contrapuntal passages leading to the triumphant Gloria.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, June 2010
Elgar's The Music Makers in Guildford Cathedral
The chorus...responded beautifully to shattering climaxes and stunning pianissimos alike.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, June 2010
Carl Orff's Carmina Burana in Guildford Cathedral
A wet night did not dampen the enthusiasm of Guildford Choral Society under their conductor James Morgan at Guildford Cathedral on Saturday 20th March. Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana sets a compilation of jolly, amorous words in dog-Latin and low-German by medieval students, and is either loved or hated. The Guildford Choral’s performance will have caused more people to love it: it was lively and alert, with the orchestra swinging along the pulsating rhythms.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser review, April 2009
Mozart's Requiem in Guildford Cathedral
Guildford Choral Society marked their first concert under new Musical Director James Morgan with a programme of popular music by Haydn and Mozart performed to a packed Guildford Cathedral on Saturday 21 March...In the first half of the evening, the choir sang Haydn’s motet Insanae et vanae curae with a beautiful, balanced harmony, Morgan drawing out the intensity and drama of Haydn’s last work...In the second half, the Requiem Mass by Mozart caught the audience’s attention from the start. The opening bars were strong, perhaps lacking some subtlety, but launching into the Kyrie fugue before exploding into the Dies Irae with startling force...For their first outing with Morgan, the Guildford Choral Society rose to the challenge, to perform an often electrifying version of this much loved piece. Some purists might find Morgan’s style too vigorous and lacking in subtlety, but there is no doubt that we can expect exciting performances from this well established choir with Morgan at their helm.
Sue Lister, Surrey Advertiser, April 2009
Walton's Belshazzar's Feast in Guildford Cathedral
Walton's Belshazzar's Feast remains one of the most difficult pieces in the choral repertoire. For Hilary Davan Wetton and his forces to perform it as convincingly as they did was indeed a great feat. It was an exciting, committed performance, displaying to the full the wild enthusiasm of the pagan revelry...and the mourning chant to the fallen city of Babylon was searingly moving. It proved a tremendous finale to Hilary Davan Wetton's career with the Guildford Choral Society and the standing ovation was richly deserved. In his speech afterwards he paid tribute to the commitment of the choir and in particular its several chairmen during his tenure. At a reception afterwards he was presented by the Countess of Onslow [the choir's President] with a scroll denoting his appointment as Conductor Emeritus.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, November 2008
Puccini's Messa di Gloria and Verdi's Stabat Mater and Te Deum from Four Sacred Pieces in Guildford Cathedral
Choir and orchestra entered into the mood [of Puccini's Messa di Gloria] in a performance of sincerity and enjoyment, with careful attention to light and shade, skillfully executed instrumental solos, and an excellent sense of drama.
Shelagh Godwin, Surrey Advertiser, June 2008
The Stabat Mater and Te Deum from his Four Sacred Pieces were written at the very end of Verdi's creative career and are extraordinary works. The opening of the Stabat Mater is for very well trained choirs only: GCS pitched the difficult notes with confidence and accuracy and under Gibson's guidance created a high degree of intensity and excitement. ... Entries are important and the tenors and basses created a strong, disciplined opening for the Te Deum, going from double forte plainsong to double piano while maintaining clear articulation.
Elizabeth Boyce, June 2008
Beethoven's Der Glorreiche Augenblick (The Glorious Moment) in Guildford Cathedral
A greater rarity surfaced in Guildford Cathedral last Saturday, when the Guildford Choral Society and Guildford Philharmonic joined forces under the baton of Hilary Davan Wetton for an exciting account of Beethoven's Der glorreiche Augenblick, Op.136. Unpublished in the composer's lifetime, and first and last heard in this country, it seems, in 1956, the cantata had a bad press - but much of the writing about it was proved wrong in performance. Wetton drew strongly committed singing and playing throughout the evening, which opened with a stirring performance of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture. The German Romantic strand was developed in Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 and Brahms's Schicksalslied. We could do with imaginative programming like this from London orchestras.
John Allison, Sunday Telegraph, March 2008
For Guildford Choral Society, paired with Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra, to resurrect this work and give it a triumphal airing in Guildford Cathedral on Saturday, after more than 50 years, was an appropriately grand musical gesture for the 40th, and final, season of concerts under the choir's musical director Hilary Davan Wetton. The choir was confident and sprightly and made a very good entrance to launch the work with 'Europa steht' with its bright underlying beat.
Elizabeth Boyce, March 2008
Beethoven's Symphony No 9 'Choral' in Guildford Cathedral
The fourth movement has a wide range of tonal colour and the choir and soloists rose to the occasion magnificently. Guildford Choral Society gave a splendid performance of the Brahms Requiem in March and their standard if anything is getting higher. This performance really was a tour de force.
Surrey Advertiser, December 2007
Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky in The Anvil
The tour de force was Prokofiev's cantata Alexander Nevsky. This was written at a time when the composer was striving to gain acceptance by the Soviet cultural establishment which loathed any kind of modernism. The cantata is therefore somewhat conservative in style and the choral lines are for the most part defiant or triumphal shouts. These came over well in The Anvil's resonant acoustic, but the more tender moments were also very effective and extremely moving.
Shelagh Godwin, June 2007
Brahms's Requiem in Guildford Cathedral
Guildford Choral Society paired up with the Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday (March 17) for an extremely polished performance of Brahms' Requiem at Guildford Cathedral. The choir certainly exuded disciplined confidence with this much loved work despite the challenge of singing it in German. The opening Blessed are they that mourn… set the standard. Under Davan Wetton's baton the choir showed off its paces: beautifully sustained piano passages, crisp dynamics, well shaped phrases and good diction.
Words & Music, May 2007
As ever, the choral society put everything into its music and the effect was superb. The choir was highly effective during the full choral sections and the fugal singing was impressive. It certainly does the choir credit that, yet again, among professional company its musicians have looked and sounded every bit the part.
Surrey Advertiser, 30 March 2007
Vaughan Williams's Hodie in Guildford Cathedral
The choral society was also in good form, its soprano line true and the voices well balanced. Diction, articulation and dynamics all spoke of discipline and training. The dramatic climax at the end of St Matthew's Angel was the first opportunity for the choir to sing at full throttle and it was great. The March of the Three Kings showcased the three soloists (baritone James Rutherford, tenor Peter Hoare and soprano Janice Watson) with the choir, top and tailed by dramatic brass and drum rolls. The Choral 'No sad thought' was beautifully executed, delicate and very well sustained.
Words & Music, March 2007
Mozart's Coronation Mass in Guildford Cathedral
The dynamics were dramatic: punches of sound with well articulated diction, such as the K of kyrie, and the choir also produced by way of contrast, some very controlled, sustained pp passages that were impressive. The soprano tone was good and the sections were well balanced.
Elizabeth Boyce, June 2006
Bach's St John Passion in Guildford Cathedral
The choir was in good form projecting a confident, clean and well articulated sound. The ensemble had good balance and impressive control of light and shade. This was a sensitive, thoughtful and intelligent performance of an intricate and surprisingly adventurous work.
Farnham Herald, 30 March 2006
The opening was highly sensitive and dramatic, the fugal choruses were precise and the voices were well-timed and clear. Generally the chorales were precise and the voices were phrased well and the ending was gentle and serene.
Surrey Advertiser, 17 March 2006
Constant Lambert's Rio Grande in Guildford Cathedral
The choir sang this difficult work with great aplomb...Lambert's various styles were given great personality and there was a real sense of contrast between the languidness and urgency of the work.
Surrey Advertiser, 3 June 2005
Mozart's Requiem in Royal Festival Hall
Guildford Choral Society abandoned the provinces for the splendour of London's Royal Festival Hall, proving that hard working and disciplined amateur choirs are able to do justice to such surroundings. Mr Davan Wetton's approach to the Requiem was original and brilliantly effective. The choirs followed where he led, confident and dynamic, there was no reason to be nervous in the two big fugues Kyrie/Cum santis tuis and Quam olim Abrahae, with Dies Irae and Rex Tremendae full of vigour and awe. The orchestra was irresistible throughout and the evening belonged to the massed choirs who rose to the occasion with such fluency.
Surrey Advertiser, 11 February 2005
Vaughan Williams's Dona Nobis Pacem in Guildford Cathedral
The choral society provided the main impetus. The choir was heavily involved in the bellicose beat! beat! drums and the emotional heart of the work, Dirge for two veterans... There was real musicality throughout and the training of such a distinguished director as Davan Wetton showed through.
Surrey Advertiser, 26 November 2004
Monteverdi's Vespers in Guildford Cathedral
The Vespers is quite a contemplative and introspective work with complex rhythms and the choir responded to its mood changes well, affirmatory for the Gloria Patri section ends, bouncy for the Audi Coelum, dramatic for the Lauda Jerusalem. The Ave Maria, Sancta Maria and Magnificat were performed beautifully - choir, soloists and orchestra on absolutely top form: Monteverdi at his best, with the nuances and contrasts between solos and accompaniment excellently interpreted and directed by Gibson. A lovely concert for a summer's evening.
Haslemere Herald, 25 June 2004
Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise and Brahms' Song of Destiny
Guildford Choral Society flooded the cathedral's spacious marble interior with warmth, sound and a touch of drama... Well supported by the orchestra, the chorus's voices soared to a great crescendo of heavenly celebration then died away to the beat of a drum as they mimicked the failing pulse of 'grief-laden mortals'.
Surrey Advertiser, March 2004
Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Rutter's Requiem in Guildford Cathedral
The Bernstein was immediately electric, the choral society charged with controlled energy, rhythms power-packed and punchy, entries cleanly disciplined and with good intonation... Towering crescendos and immaculate diminuendos gave a crisp dynamic force to the psalms and also to the choir's performance of John Rutter's Requiem that followed. There was an underlying sense of confidence. Diction was excellent and the muscular phrasing with intense contrast between loud and soft was highly effective. This concert was superb and the Bernstein has been echoing round my head ever since.
Haslemere Herald, July 2003