Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Hutton & Shenfield Choral Society at the Brentwood Centre

Steeped in tradition and Christmas spirit, this musical treat heralds the start of the festivities for many.
Accompanied by the excellent Aurelian Symphony Orchestra, the choir gave us Rutter, of course: his Angels’ Carol, with Lynne Creasey’s harp, and the Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, with Ann Miller’s piccolo. Plus a toe-tapping I Saw Three Ships, and a splendid choral Jingle Bells. Carols for the audience, too, beginning, as custom dictates, with Once in Royal, and ending with Hark the Herald. They were conducted with infectious enthusiasm by Tim Hooper.
Guests included Santa Claus, descending through the audience to reward the children who’d just sung Away in a Manger. The choir from St Thomas of Canterbury, directed by Anna Dunn, with Tim Smith at the keyboard, singing some lovely, less familiar, Christmas songs, including Gonna Catch That Santa, complete with harmonies and hand movements. The children joined the adults for an arrangement of Calypso Carol, commissioned last year for the Society’s 50th anniversary.
Chelmsford Ballet Company revived some favourite moments from this year’s Civic production, Alice's Adventures – flocks of flamingos, packs of playing cards, Tweedles Dum and Dee, all dancing to Carl Davis’s score played live – and, as a foretaste of next year’s Snow Queen perhaps, Ice Maidens.

Graham Padden was the narrator for Philip Lane’s setting of The Night Before Christmas, and also for the highlight of the evening, a witty setting by Edward Watson of John Julius Norwich’s hilarious Twelve Days of Christmas. Hissing geese from the choir, swans from Paul Lockyer’s cello, drummers of course, but, thankfully no bagpipes, the chanter melody provided by the violin of Aurelian’s leader, Philippa Barton.

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