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The ’Phil gets Christmas off with a bang!

Christmas Carol Concert

Wakefield Cathedral

Saturday December 20 2008

CHRISTMAS, the BBC smugly likes to declare, begins with the first notes of Once In Royal David’s City in its broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge. Several hundred people in Wakefield would beg to differ, for they know the haunting soprano strains of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel are the official announcement of a feast of music which kick-starts their festive celebrations. Nothing puts a seasonal spring in the step better than the annual appointment with the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir on the last Saturday before December 25. That’s why tickets for this year’s concert sold out the day the posters arrived from the printer and why Wakefield Cathedral resounded with long and loud applause at the conclusion of another top-quality treat.The applause was thoroughly justified, for the choir was on fine form throughout a well-chosen programme in which everyone would have heard something they knew well and something new to them. Highlights were many: the aforementioned opener, Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day, conductor Andrew Padmore’s arrangement of Away in a Manger and a boisterous take on The Twelve Days of Christmas. And while critics might decry John Rutter’s Christmas carol production line, his matchless grasp of a good tune and a killer harmony were beautifully demonstrated with I Wonder As I Wander and Candlelight Carol.

Although a couple of the arrangements chosen for them were, to say the least, ambitious for a village primary school choir, the singers from Carlton Juniors nevertheless tackled them with gusto and, in their two spots, contributed fully to the evening’s enjoyment.

Music as well as voices always plays an important part in these concerts, with a sterling effort from Tom Moore on the cathedral organ and some enthusiastic work by the brass quintet, especially a mischievous medley of Jingle Bells and Deck the Hall.

Same time, same place next year? Few of the audience – nor I – would turn down the invitation.


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