IT’s that time of year when audience participation is as much part of the entertainment as the mincing Dame and the thigh-slapping principal boy – and it doesn’t just have to be in pantomime. Audiences love singing carols and at Trowbridge Chorus’s joyous Christmas concert, they were also invited to join in the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Graham Dalby, making his debut as musical director, went into the body of the church and encouraged sections of the audience to sing the various ‘gifts’, with the soprano soloist Beth Thomas singing “and a Partridge in a Pear Tree” and the choir contributing “Three Gold Rings”.
The concert began in more serious vein with Schubert’s setting of The Lord is my Shepherd, followed by Bruckner’s moving Ave Maria, the magnificent How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings by Brahms, and the first half concluded with Schubert’s Mass in G major. The other soloists were tenor Ed Coton and bass Graham Case. For the second half, the carols spanned many centuries, from the medieval Adam Lay Y-bounden and Boar’s Head Carol, through the renaissance, including Praetorius’ arrangement of A Great and Mighty Wonder, and Bach’s O Jesulein Suss, to the poignant Stille Nacht, from a small village near Salzburg in Austria, composed by Franz Gruber in 1818 and declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011!
The concert ended in rousing style with half a dozen of the most loved Christmas carols and songs, including God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. The audience joined in O Little Town of Bethlehem and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
The joy in this concert was not only the well chosen programme, and the engaging style of the choir’s new musical director, but the arrangements of even very familiar works, with descants and harmonies that showed the quality of voices in this long established choir.