Saturday, December 20, 2008


at Chelmsford Cathedral


A varied selection box of musical delights raised money for the Mayor's charities just before Christmas.

BBC Essex star Dave Monk kept the programme moving, and managed to bridge some pretty wide cultural gulfs. For instance, Philip Cashian's contemporary piece Landscape, was followed by Kay Starr's unforgettable The Man With The Bag.

Sasha Valeri Millwood – the Cashian pianist – also gave us Bach and Chopin, as well as two finger-breaking virtuoso pieces: a Kabalevsky prelude and Fireworks from Debussy. Another award-winning young musician, Sophie Biebuyck, used her bright, warm soprano to excellent effect in extracts from The Messiah, and closed the concert with a simple but effective arrangement of Stille Nacht, backed by the very impressive chamber choir Bra-vissima.

Conducted by Julia Wilson-James, these dozen ladies started the evening with Frosty the Snowman, and ended the first half with the last two numbers from Britten's Ceremony of Carols, disappearing out to the vestry in candlelit procession.

We also heard about the Christmas Truce of 1914, and Conrad's Christmas Guest. Tricia Etherton's Theatretrain – who sang The Man with the Bag – had several more upbeat festive numbers for us; then, just before the mince pies and mulled wine, provided by event sponsors Cosmopolitan and Russell's Restaurant, everyone joined in one last chorus - We Wish You a Merry Christmas. I'll drink to that !

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