Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

TWO concerts delayed but not defeated by the snow were finally performed at the second attempt last Sunday. For the first time in its nearly 50 years, the South Chiltern Choral Society had to cancel their usual pre-Christmas concerts due to snow.

It is a tribute to the choir’s determination and the support it gets from the community that the concerts were performed in their entirety only three weeks later. They were right. The Manchester Carols are something special. The Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and composer Sasha Johnson Manning have created a truly original work that moves the concept of Christmas music on to a new plane. There is a series of 12 carols interspersed with readings, broadly covering the traditional Christmas story but the overall effect is totally different.  Duffy has used the story of Christmas as a metaphor for human experience, expressed simply. Combined with a series of varied and memorable melodies the carols, succinctly supported by the narration, reinforced the joy of Christmas and, by linking it to the real lives and emotions of the people involved, made it all more real and relevant.

They were delightfully performed with confidence and conviction, conducted as usual by Gwyn Arch, and the choir of Caversham Primary School, directed by Helen Willis, ably assisted by baritone Gareth Jones and narrators, Graham Phillips and Sally McEwen.

The novel orchestration consisted of piano, two recorders, a violin, flute and clarinet and was originally written for an all-female version. The children played a full part in the concert, often introducing carols. This was the best SCCS Christmas concert that I can remember, and I have been to many. It will require all of Gwyn Arch’s ingenuity to match this next Christmas!   PW

Back to past concerts.

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