The Harborough Singers presented their annual Christmas concert at St. Dionysius church on the Saturday before Christmas. In a celebration of Christmas the choir and their guest celebrity reader Christopher Timothy, entertained a packed audience, presenting all the facets of the season in a varied, poignant and entertaining evening.
Musical director David Beavan’s selection of choral pieces was perhaps slightly unusual, drawing predominantly from the contributions of twentieth and twenty –first century composers and arrangers like David Jepson and Bob Chilcott, but his careful, calm, guidance enabled the Singers to demonstrate their ability, confidence and discipline throughout the evening, producing wonderful moments of harmony and commendable part-singing. Their opening item ‘‘A babe is born’’ demonstrated an incisive excellence and the syncopated rhythmic singing in Gritton’s “Follow that star” was a warming moment, typifying richness and clarity in the vocal sounds that reverberated around the building: the accompanying humming in ‘‘Rocking’’ revealed both the sensitivity of the choir and their versatility.
In the second half a superb performance of Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe by Bryan Shaw accompanied by the talented Andrew King was especially moving.
Christopher Timothy’s asides suggested he was quite at home and wanting to engage with his audience. He delivered a selection of readings ranging from the jocular, such as Phinn’s “Journey to Bethlehem” and Alan Coren’s “Stocking up” to the thought provoking, including Sansom’s “The Carol of three”, in which “the cock crowed thrice”, giving us a clue to the message behind the reading: a reminder that beyond the jollity of a celebratory Christmas, in the Christian tradition, comes a time of darkness and despair before renewed hope. Was it a coincidence that readings featuring shepherds, cats in the manger and The Barn were included given the reader’s prominent portrayal of a vet on TV?
A highly enjoyable evening concluded with a short extract from Dickens and the appreciative audience joining in a rousing rendition of “O come all ye faithful’’ with a superlative descant.