The damp and dreary evening was cheered and illuminated, both by the spectacular Christmas decorations in St Mary’s Church and by a carefully chosen programme.
Excerpts from the ‘Armed Man’ by Karl Jenkins were admirably performed by the choir and Isabel Wilson, who sang a calm and solemn solo.
The choir responded with clarity and unanimity.
The heart of this work was contained in the ‘Hymn Before Action’ that led to the bitter irony of the closing words – “Lord, grant us strength to die!”
A degree of consolation was found in the Agnus Dei.
The piece ended not with applause, but with an appropriate silence.
Excerpts from Handel’s Messiah followed, in which both Gail Hinkins and Isabel sang beautifully.
The choir, ably conveying a positive sense of joy, sang with energy and conviction, achieving great excitement and majesty at the words ‘Wonderful! Counsellor!’
The choir revealed the attractions of the different idiom of Bob Chilcott’s ‘On Christmas Night’.
The outstanding performance of the evening was that given by Sylvia Ravenhall and Len McAllister, who sang a duet of both power and delicacy.
There was a brief moment for the audience to join in a carol, then Penny Holland offered, upon the retirement of Gerard Berry, an entertaining appreciation of all his work as chairman of the Choral Society.
As always, the success of the evening depended on the energy, clarity and reliability of Caroline Boden’s conducting, and on the accompaniment of Chris Hinkins.