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The Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir’s Christmas Concert – a real cracker of a performance!

YPC’s Christmas concert, held in Wakefield cathedral just a few days before Christmas, set the standard for all such concerts – the loveliest of choral singing; truly beautiful surroundings; Thomas Moore’s unsurpassed organ and piano accompaniment; a superb brass quintet and the novel addition a group of handbell ringers, all masterfully brought together by Andrew Padmore, conductor and musical director of the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir. It was a stunning performance, and a wonderful evening.

The choir mesmerised the audience with the beautiful ‘My Lord Has Come’, by Will Todd. Tenderly and expertly sung, this lovely song captures the story and the hope that Christmas brings to us all. Similarly, ‘The Colours of Christmas’, written by John Rutter – a very sweet song with the loveliest of harmonies – the choir sang it with great feeling and expression, telling the story of the birth of Christ through an array of colours, bringing hope to the world.

There was quite a ‘bell’ theme to the concert including ‘The Bell Carol’, by Philip Ledger; ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High’ arranged by Mack Wilberg and of course, a fun arrangement of ‘Jingle Bells’ by David Willcocks. All were sung with much enthusiasm and joy, and an appropriate ‘warm up’ for the Askrigg Handbell Ringers, led by Malcolm Carruthers.

Handbell ringing has its origins in the time around the turn of the 17th Century. Tower bell ringers developed sets of tuned hand bells to practise outside of their towers – probably much appreciated by local people when the ringers were working on new pieces!

Moving into the 21st Century, the Askrigg Hanbell Ringers treated Saturday’s audience to a feast of music, some well known, some less so, but all played with intense concentration.

A further treat for the audience was the Brass Quintet. At times witty, sometimes plaintive – but always skilful, they performed three very different pieces and accompanied the choir with great gusto in the ‘congregational’ carols.

But who will ever forget Andrew’s jokes? As he introduced each set of musical pieces, he regaled the audience with the sort of jokes you laugh heartily at - promise yourself that you will remember them, and of course, which instantly go out of your head. But it added greatly to the pleasure and the merriment of the evening, gently reminding us that, yes, Christmas is a time of solemnity and of reflection, but also a time of good humour, goodwill and laughter.

All the choir’s music was underpinned by the utterly capable and highly skilful accompaniment on organ and piano by Thomas Moore.

A fabulous evening – gorgeous singing, wonderful playing, lovely carols – and tremendous leadership on the part of Andrew Padmore who brought the whole thing together into a thoroughly enjoyable evening of music.

And a cracking good time was had by all!

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