REVIEW: ‘Let’s hope this concert will become an annual tradition’

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Sussex Chorus Family Christmas Concert, King’s Church, Burgess Hill, December 22

The festively decorated King’s Church in Burgess Hill buzzed with Yuletide spirit for Sussex Chorus’ annual early evening family Christmas concert on December 22.

The evening began with William Matthias’ ‘A Babe is Born’, followed by ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, joined by the audience.

The choir continued with John Rutter’s ‘Star Carol’ and an arrangement of ‘Unto Us is Born a Son’ by David Willcocks, the choir’s vice president.

Gustav Holst’s ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ particularly demonstrated the choir’s vocal sensitivity, using the subtle colours of the music so ably under the direction of its musical director, Alan Vincent, accompanied by John Walker on the keyboard.

The mood changed to a sublime moment in ‘Away in a Manger’, the second verse sung by the children in the audience; a charming and magical moment. The choir followed with Alan Vincent’s own arrangement of the traditional folk carol ‘The Truth from Above’.

The festive spirit continued with the choir and audience’s stirring rendition of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. Christmas bells chimed as the choir rang out ‘The Carol of the Bells’ and ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’.

The audience had fun with Alan teaching them to sing the chorus of John Gardiner’s ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ in rounds, with the choir singing the verses.

The concert came to a climax with everyone coming together in ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and finally the choir singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ with the men demanding “figgy pudding, and we won’t go until we get some”. This provided the cue for the concert to end for the audience and choir to retire for hot drinks and mince pies.

This is the second year that Sussex Chorus has provided a family Christmas concert in the King’s Church. We look forward to their return next year with more festive music and fun to put us all in the Yuletide spirit.

Let’s hope that this will become an annual Burgess Hill tradition.