Songs of Christmas Past at Highcliffe Castle

What a glorious evening it proved to be. This female ensemble, 11-strong in this concert, sings superbly – and the harmonies were absolutely divine. Conducted and directed by Michelle Nova with piano accompaniment by Victor Burbidge, the programme ranged from the relatively unknown, such as Peter Warlock’s First Mercy and Grahame Kendrick’s Thorns in the Straw, the latter containing a beautiful, expressive solo from Rachel Scivier, to old favourites such as Silent Night and Jingle Bells.

My particular favourites were the glorious – and hitherto completely unknown to me – Elgar song The Snow, with violin accompaniment from Anna Tyrrell and Hannah Scott, and Max Reger’s Cradle Slumber Song, but there was so much that was simply mouth-watering in this excellent concert.

John Rutter’s cycle of six carols, Dancing Day; Little Drummer Boy – the boy in question being young Ben Watton, who played superbly despite being brought in at the eleventh hour; Chestnuts Roasting; The Twelve Days of Christmas; Winter Wonderland; Carol of the Bells; O Holy Night – I could have listened to it all over again.

They sang like angels proving once again that the esteem in which they are held is totally justified.

Linda Kirkman, ‘Scene One

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