BEFORE Covid, David Pitts of Minehead was admired for his annual charity concerts in the (former) Colston Hall in Bristol and St David’s Hall in Cardiff, where he led huge amateur orchestras and choirs, writes CJ Rufus.

Some 500 musicians and choristers also contributed generously to the charity for which they were performing happily under David’s baton.

Cancer Research benefitted but Covid-19 ended these renowned annual concerts. This year they were re-invented and relocated to the Regal Theatre in Minehead. 

The concert, clearly well-rehearsed and superbly directed, with 30 choristers, 18 musicians, and 10 or so backstage helpers, was of remarkable quality. There is not room in even the expansive Regal for the outsize orchestra and choirs of pre-Covid renown, yet the theatre was packed full of happy people who became happier still – and still more generous – as the charity concert evening progressed.

The thoughtfully designed programme of 20 top-notch items included elements of Lloyd-Webber, Handel, Mascagni, John Williams, Bernstein, and others, and coalesced in a glorious evening that did more than justice to the fine performers and to their charitable cause.  

A total of 34 mellifluous chorists, a score of whom were also stunning soloists, thrilled. Among far too many highlights to list, for this reviewer, Doyle’s Non Nobis Domine was especially moving.

John Williams’s stirring Hymn to the Fallen (used in the film Saving Private Ryan) was also apt for this month’s anniversary of D-Day and for cancer victims. For all, Rhythm of Life (from the film Sweet Charity), and the final brilliantly arranged medley from Les Misérables rightly earned rapturous applause and encores. 

The programme’s variety, from operatic intermezzo to showbusiness musical hits, was a tribute to the orchestra’s remarkable versatility, to the choir, including the sparkling Fusion singers, and to the presiding David Pitts, whose conducting inspired performers and audience alike.