In the church of St Oswald’s, Voices prepared to sing ‘A Christmas Celebration’, full of popular chart toppers and carol choral classics, with a friendly and open atmosphere.
The choir started with a classic in choral repertoire, ‘Adiemus’ by Karkl Jenkins, with a peaceful and clear opening. The solo lines stood out, particularly among the sopranos, and the choir was together, although intonation could have at times been slightly more accurate near the end of phrases – the singers could have made more eye contact with the audience and their conductor, Daniel Murphy.
They then followed with Tears for Fears’ ‘Mad World’, a lovely interpretation despite the rather dubious programme notes on the song which seemed to have been hastily put together. The piece started rather tentatively but saw a growing number of performers shaking the nerves and looking up, some even smiling. By the time ‘Candle in the Wind’ by Elton John started, the choir seemed to truly enjoy themselves, and the main chorus and harmonies seemed to be sung with pleasure. The tenors opened clearly with their line and the moments of unison were very good, keeping in tune and in tight rhythm. Another special mention must be given to Daniel Murphy for arranging these chart covers which were delightful.
The choir then slipped on their festive and colourful jumpers as four members of the exec treated us to an intimate one-to-a-part performance of ‘Jesus Christ Apple Tree’. The singers were confident despite original nerves and it was a lovely transition between the pop repertoire and the Christmas music which alternated between audience-participation carols and choir-only repertoire. The ‘Gaudete’ which followed was very rhythmic although could have done with even more punch and some English vowels were slightly jarring, particularly one the ‘virgine’.
Nevertheless, it was an energetic performance where both the audience and the performers were engaged. The carols, Once in Royal, O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald were joyful and engaging and ended the concert with a sparkling touch as the audience gladly joined in the festive spirit.
As the last chord died on “Glory to the newborn King”, the audience was invited to enjoy some mince pies and soft drinks with the choir as all gathered round in the (relative) warmth of the church to share congratulations and conversation.