Recent Concerts & Reviews

A variety of music at the heart of the community

Ashtead Choral Society has been performing for over 70 years.  On this page the details and reviews of our recent concerts will give you a flavour of our range.

We are proud of our long history of singing together in our community and a complete list of our performances can also be found at the link below.

Brahms Requiem

  • Conducted by Andrew Storey
  • Featuring the Kent Sinfonia
  • Soprano – Eleanor Pennell-Briggs
  • Baritone – Daniel Tate

Our May concert featured the magnificent Requiem by Brahms – perhaps the most unique of all Requiems. As Brahms himself said, it is less a Requiem for the dead than one intended to comfort the living; less a work of religion than a work of humanity. The Requiem emerged from a decade of turmoil in the composer’s life, including the death of his great friend, Robert Schumann in 1856 and of his mother in 1865. But, like all great works of art, it has transcended its origins, and has become one of the greatest choral works ever written.

Brahms was a deep, serious man, who was also extremely shy. All his emotions were expressed through his music; and this Requiem is one of the most beautifully expressed and personal of all his compositions. Musically, its carefully balanced architecture is matched by an equally firm musical structure. The Requiem unfolds as a gentle, lyrical expression of consolation, through rich melody, untroubled sweetness and beauty, into episodes of monumental power. Brahms’ Requiem will leave you feeling comforted, uplifted and on top of the world.

This choral performance of the Requiem was accompanied by Brahms’ Tragic Overture,  a free-standing symphonic movement for orchestra, performed this evening by the Kent Sinfonia.

From Rameau to Rutter via Rossini

Featuring Rutter’s Requiem & European Harmonies by Rameau, Rossini, Gorecki and Faure

16 March 2024

Our Spring concert featured the Requiem by contemporary British composer and conductor, John Rutter. Rutter is a composer of instantly memorable tunes, and nowhere is this more evident than his glorious Requiem. Composed in 1985, the work is characterised by its simplicity, brevity and rich choral writing. This seven-movement Requiem is traditional in its inspiration, using texts from the Requiem Mass and the Book of Common Prayer. The gloriously pure Pie Jesu is a real highlight – as is the Requiem Aeternam, which opens the work. Performed regularly all over the world, Rutter’s Requiem is one of the most popular compositions of the last thirty years.

As a nod to Ashtead Choral Society’s tour of Umbria in Italy in May, our Spring concert also featured a selection of European harmonies from composers Jean-Philippe Rameau, Gioachino Rossini, Henryk Gorecki and Gabriel Fauré.

Sing Carols for Charity

Carols for Choir & Audience

9 December 2023

Our popular annual Carols for Choir and Audience, conducted by Andrew Storey with Stephen Ridge on piano. With refreshments along with a Festive Stall selling crafts and produce.

This year we were pleased to be supporting two charities: Joe’s Buddy Line and Dyscover. Joe’s Buddy Line was set up in memory of Joe Lyons and aims to promote and protect the mental health of young people from Primary School to University. Dyscover is a charity that supports people with aphasia, a communication difficulty usually as the result of a stroke.

Petite Messe Solennelle

Rossini

4 November 2023

A heart-warming and celebratory work, bursting with humour, charm and sincerity.

Ironically, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle (Small Solemn Mass), is neither small nor particularly solemn! A naturally witty composer, it was entirely characteristic of Rossini to play with his audience’s expectations in this way. Most famous for his 39 operas, it might also be no surprise that, in this ostensibly religious piece, the vocal writing is unashamedly operatic.

In this the great composer’s final work, the music ranges from hushed intensity to boisterous high spirits, and abounds with the memorable tunes and rhythmic vitality for which Rossini became justly famous. It is a heart-warming and celebratory piece, bursting with humour, charm and sincerity.

In this performance, the choir was accompanied by two pianos played by Stephen Ridge and Simon Phillips, and a harmonium played by Lucy Morrell. Our soloists were: Soprano – Lucy Cox; Alto – Susan Legg; Tenor – Adam Tunnicliffe; and Bass – Philip Tebb.

Carmina Burana

Carl Orff

The Armed Man

Karl Jenkins

13 May 2023

Two classics of the 20th century choral repertoire were on the menu for our summer concert.

Most famous to many as the soundtrack for the Old Spice aftershave advert and films such as The Omen, Carmina Burana has become one of the most celebrated and performed works in recent history. Whereas The Armed Man is a relatively new work which has nevertheless become a choral classic in its short life.

We were accompanied by the Kent Sinfonia, with soloists Ana Beard Fernández (soprano), Richard Decker (counter tenor) and Rupert Pardoe (baritone).

A Sea Symphony

Five Mystical Songs

The Lark Ascending

Ralph Vaughan Williams

25 February 2023

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth, we presented a programme of the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, including the Lark Ascending, Five Mystical Songs and the powerful and beautifully crafted Sea Symphony. We were accompanied by the Kent Sinfonia with soloists Eleanor Pennell-Briggs (soprano), Daniel Tate (baritone), Christian Halstead (violin) and Stephen Ridge (pianist for Five Mystical Songs).

Pirates of Penzance

Trial by Jury

Gilbert & Sullivan

8 October 2022

We began our 2022-23 season on 8th October in the Epsom Playhouse with concert versions of Pirates of Penzance and Trial by Jury, operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan. A rip roaring evening of melodies and Gilbert-esque story lines, with the Kent Sinfonia and soloists Kathleen Nic Dhairmada, Susan Legg, Mark Nathan and Jeff Stewart.

Messiah

Handel

23 April 2022

No matter how many times one has heard Handel’s ‘Messiah’, if it is sung well, as it certainly was here there is always something new to savour while simultaneously rejoicing in the many highlights of this cherished score. The concert was dedicated to the people of Ukraine, and a collection for the Disasters Emergency Committee raised £1,350 on the evening, which commenced with the Ukrainian National Anthem, played majestically and poignantly on the church’s organ by Lucy Morrell of the Kent Sinfonia…

Elijah

Mendelssohn

5 February 2022

And so it came to pass that, as the UK seemed to be emerging from two years in the wilderness as a result of the Covid pandemic, Ashtead Choral Society’s long-postponed 70th anniversary performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah took place on 5 February at Dorking Halls – but – would anyone come to listen? Would there be any sign of a crowd, let alone a cloud?

We needn’t have worried, as the audience seats filled up and the lights dimmed to greet the arrival of the soloists along with conductor Andrew Storey…

Masters in Concert

Beethoven & Mozart

9 October 2021

After what seems like forever, Ashtead Choral Society were able to return to live music-making in St Martin’s, Epsom, on 9 October. Ably supported by the Kent Sinfonia and a range of soloists, ACS, and their Music Director Dr Andrew Storey, treated us to a programme of Beethoven and Mozart…