December 2001: Carols By Candlelight

Carols by Candlelight

St David's, December 2001

Exeter Express and Echo, 17 December 2001

"There is a certain predictability about most carol concerts...

This concert, though, was different. A good many of the anthems were completely unfamiliar, and many of the old favourites which did resurface were performed to unexpected tunes which lent them a certain freshness. Even Ding Dong! Merrily on High has an alternative melody, it seems.

There was much audience participation, again mainly to unfamiliar tunes, with each carol being preceded by a humorous introduction and practice session from conductor Nigel Perrin. He even got us all singing in Latin for the carol Personent Hodie. 'Just pronounce the words as if you're Italian', he explained, and very good it sounded too. Soon we were happily singing The Holly and the Ivy in rounds to another hitherto unexplored tune.

With such results being produced by an untutored audience it was hardly surprising that the choir themselves were virtually faultless.

Adding another unconventional note, together with star quality - albeit somewhat shyly - was the all-girl Spectrum Saxophone Quartet... This was an eye-opener to anyone who thought that the saxophone was just for jazz music - the quartet's performance of Farca's Hungarian Dances, more chamber music than jazz. At such a good-humoured concert even the crush and scramble for mince pies and coffee in the interval turned into a fun event. Here's looking forward to next year."