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2023 Christmas concert combines old and new

2023 Christmas concert combines old and new

Sunday 17th December 2023

The centrepiece of our Christmas concert this year, on Saturday 16th December at Holy Trinity Church, was Make we merry, a cantata composed just five years ago by David Bednall, which celebrates the joy and wonder of Christmas using words from the 15th to the 19th century.

Early anonymous texts such as ‘Make we joy now in this fest’ and ‘Sweet was the song the Virgin sang’ appear alongside poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Gerard Manley Hopkins. The mood of the music changes rapidly, from boisterous and joyful to reflective and mysterious and back again, keeping the choir on our toes. We had just five weeks to learn this piece, which was a challenge, but the hard work in rehearsals paid off. Our performance on the day was greatly enhanced by our visiting brass group ARC Brass, along with our percussionist Keith Crompton and our organist Colin Druce,

Other pieces in the concert also presented the familiar in unfamiliar ways, with various arrangements of well known carols made by RLSBC Musical Directors past and present. Peter Hurford’s version of Bethlehem, of noblest cities somehow manages to combine an Australian folk tune with a traditional German melody, and Paul Trepte’s delightful arrangement of While shepherds watched includes some unexpected “chiming Christmas bells”. The words of carols are always interesting: some reference pagan Yuletide customs (Deck the hall), while others tell completely apocryphal stories about the life of the Holy Family (The Cherry Tree Carol)!

ARC Brass, a quintet of recent graduates from the Royal Academy of Music, added even more variety to the mix - their contributions to the afternoon’s entertainment ranged from Bach to the ever popular Sleigh Ride. Our audience were invited to jangle along to the latter - as well as joining in the congregational carols, of course. We were delighted to be joined on stage in the second half of the concert by a group of gentlemen who have been training with Peter Wilman as part of our Sing Together Leamington project, generously supported by the Town Council’s Community Grant Fund.

As ever, we owe huge thanks to our Musical Director Lee Dunleavy for his energy, enthusiasm and sheer hard work - some of it very much ‘behind the scenes’, such as putting together a third ‘Heritage Booklet’ for us, supported by the Vaughan Williams Foundation. As most of you already know, we are currently seeking the right person to be our next Musical Director, as Lee will be leaving at the end of the season to pursue a vocation in the Church of England ministry. We shall be very sad to see him go…

Please click the link below to read a very complimentary review of the concert published in the Leamington Courier.

Courier review (0.32Mb)

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