Christmas Concert 2019


Ottery Choral Society’s Christmas concert, on Saturday evening 7th December in Ottery Church, gave everyone the chance to join in a selection of favourite carols in amongst the performance pieces, and very popular it proved.

So it was the audience, accompanying O Come All Ye Faithful, which gave a joyous opening to the proceedings. Three different carols followed from the choir; Archer’s When Christ Was Born Of Mary Free is a modern setting of old text to ornate organ accompaniment, followed by the evergreen Coventry Carol and then Rutter’s Rejoice And Be Merry, all delivered well by the choir and players.

The audience sang The First Nowell before trumpeter Andrew Stark delivered a clear and confident Trumpet Voluntary by Stanley, ably accompanied by Andrew Carter on the organ. Everyone sang Unto Us Is Born A Son before the main work in the concert, Rutter’s ambitious Gloria.

The first movement is striking with alternating choral and brass statements; the second is gentler with choir and organ together and a short soprano solo; the finale is lively and rhythmic throughout. The choir and players rose well to the challenge presented by this complex work.

A second set of three pieces followed God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen sung by all. The first, In The Bleak Midwinter, had solos for Pip and Michael Gascoigne-Pees. Then came a gentle and comfortable feeling Blessed Son Of God by Vaughan Williams, contrasting with a jaunty Torches by Joubert.

Gabrieli’s 16thC compositions include many antiphonal pieces written for the structure of Venice’s San Marco church and the brass ensemble gave good account of this in a ringing rendition of  Canzon Septimi Toni no 1. After Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, by everyone, came the final trio of choral pieces; a fine Sussex Carol was followed by a charming unaccompanied arrangement of Away In A Manger with Rutter’s Star Carol providing a buoyant conclusion.

At least, almost, as We Wish You A Merry Christmas was the choir’s prompt for everyone to participate in some seasonal refreshments to close a very pleasant evening out.

Stephen Shires