Mid Sussex Choir blends old with new for perfect start to Christmas.
Review by David Barnes
Christmas Concert, Mid Sussex Choir, St Wilfrid’s Church, Haywards Heath, Saturday 14th December 2019.
The choir’s traditional Christmas Concert featured the Magnificat by John Rutter together with a number of Christmas songs and carols, some old some new. The audience was quickly involved in the carol singing by Andrew Sutton, Music Director of the choir, and this continued throughout the evening with much gusto!
The choir performed “My Lord has Come” by Will Todd, a modern English classical composer and pianist. His works range from choral anthems to expansively broad orchestral works. This piece had lovely melodies.
The Mid Sussex Choir has a liking for John Rutter’s works and throughout the concert several of his carols were sung. The “Sans Day carol” an old Cornish carol featured early in the concert and is a much-loved component of the Christmas Concert.
Soprano Katharine Collett provided a sensitive performance of Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night”. Adam was a French composer and music critic and a noted teacher, who taught Delibes and other influential composers.
The choir then sang two new pieces in their repertoire, firstly “Myn Lyking” by R R Terry, more correctly Sir Richard Runciman Terry (1865 –1938) who was an English organist, choir director and musicologist. and secondly the hauntingly beautiful “Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitaker, a modern American composer known for his choral and orchestral music.
The finale to the first half was Rutter’s Magnificat was sung confidently by the choir. John Rutter is best known today for his carols and also more substantial works such as the Magnificat. He is regarded as "the most gifted composer of his generation”. The performance was enhanced by the solo performances by Sopranos Katharine Collett and Cynthia Davies.
The second half of the concert started with a lovely traditional piece “Jesus Christ the apple tree” arranged by Elizabeth Poston an English composer (1905–1987).
More modern pieces performed by the choir were, “The Shepherd’s Farewell” by Hector Berlioz a romantic French composer (1803 – 1869) and “Torches” by John Joubert a modern British composer who died earlier this year.
Bass Alan Brock performed with the choir “The Three Kings” by Peter Cornelius a German composer (1824 – 1874). The final section of the concert was primarily devoted to the ever popular carols of John Rutter, “Candlelight Carol”, “What Sweeter Music” and “Nativity carol” and finishing with “Let it Snow” by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.
The concert featured many Christmas carols some sung by the choir and the more familiar ones with audience participation. This adds to the enjoyment of the concert for the audience who appeared well pleased with the evening’s entertainment.
Accompaniment was provided by Phillip Sear on the piano and Neil Matthews on the organ.
The retiring collection raised £ 183.13 in aid of the Kangaroos Fun Disability Clubs for Mid Sussex and the choir’s own charity.
The choirs next series of rehearsals begins on Wednesday, January 8 at the Haywards Heath Methodist Church in preparation for the Spring Concert on April 25 when the work of the Modern British composer Karl Jenkins, The Armed man will be featured. More information is available from www.midsussexchoir.org.uk