Review: Carol Services

The order of service for the recent festival of lessons and carols announced ‘a traditional service’.  Traditional it was, but in no way predictable or routine. 

Point of fact, it was a superb blend of the established with music by the late Sir David Willcocks, the evergreen John Rutter and a splash of the unusual in Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and Eric Whitacre.

There were one or two further nice additional touches with organ music played by pupils Annabel Hannan (NC Sh), James Eyles (LI Hu) and Luke Smith (CO Hu) before the service and a beautiful vocal quintet in an arresting performance of Luis de Victoria’s Ave Maria.

Soloists Anna Laakkonen (MO Hu,) Alice Springett (MM L6), Juliette Hughan (MM U6) and Willow Cunningham (EL U6) deserve special praise for brave and expressive performances of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and the hymns were gilded with a splash of brass to provide welcome and extra colour.  Choirmaster Alex Hodgkinson once again cultivated a most precise and sophisticated performance from the Choir – phrasing and diction were particularly impressive and dynamic colours persuasively delivered, none more so than in the line ‘In a stable, ’tis no fable’ receiving a beautiful dynamic echo to conclude this famous carol.  All in all, another fine bespoke weekend of high quality music-making for which all those involved should feel rightly proud.

Philip Dukes
Artistic Director

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