REVIEW: Angmering Chorale Christmas Concert

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The Angmering Chorale with school choirs from The Towers Convent, Swiss Gardens Primary, Georgian Gardens Primary and Rose Green Infants.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose – so the song goes but it wasn’t cold enough in Angmering on Saturday 12th December 2015 although we did have Yuletide carols sung by a choir ……well actually five choirs!

The Angmering Chorale and four children’s choirs combined, once again, in Angmering School’s Sports Hall for their traditional prelude to the Festive Season. They were directed by George Jones and ably assisted by piano accompanist, Alison Manton, Patcham Silver Band, their conductor, James Benka-Coker, and a large enthusiastic audience.

Apart from the usual favourite carols lustily sung by all, we heard the Chorale perform lesser-known gems from Poland, Puerto Rico and Scotland blended with beautifully crafted alternative arrangements of While Shepherds Watched and the Coventry Carol. Our shepherds had moved to Ilkley Moor and the children were warned by George about the “scary men” (they were!) in the Coventry Carol’s verse about Herod’s search for the new-born perceived threat to his sovereignty. All of these choral numbers were superbly complemented by some less frequently heard American spirituals and original works from our own shores.

The children’s choirs were, once again, a joy to savour and their performance fully reflected the unstinting dedication of their respective music teachers. Ranging from Year 3 to Year 6, they delighted us with Sleigh Ride, Frosty and Jingle Bell Rock whilst, at the same time, showing us how sweetly and softly they could sing in The Rocking Carol and other favourites. They also coped magnificently with the Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, a Christmas hit of yesteryear recorded by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. This fusion of two separate songs would surely test an experienced adult choir but no such problems for these talented young artistes.

Patcham Silver Band provided sensitive backing for the audience carols and clearly delighted everyone with their solo spots especially Instant Concert (30 tunes in just over 3 minutes) and An Oompah Christmas which featured many carols given the foot-tapping Bavarian Bier-keller treatment! Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Pie Jesu, featuring a flugel horn and soprano cornet duet was well received but, for me, their finest and most moving ensemble playing was heard in an arrangement of the delightful choral work, O Magnum Mysterium by the American, Morten Lauridsen.

Our evening concluded splendidly with everyone taking part in a rousing rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas complete with movements and gestures splendidly choreographed by Oliver Martin, one of the Chorale’s young tenor singers.

Jim Hurdwell

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