Tonight’s repertoire was varied: traditional songs, such as ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’ and carols, with audience participation, were interspersed with religious, spiritual and humorous readings brought to life by the delightful voice of Jeremy Irons, whose showmanship in the pulpit resembled a curious mix of modern preacher and circus master.
The concert also provided an edifying moment for me, which was to finally realise that Christchurch Cathedral really is a cathedral. This should have been obvious, yet I had always assumed it was a college chapel with aspirations. I did not fully appreciate its magnificence - relative to closeness to home - until today. Maybe, as the poignant reading about Christmas Eve in the trenches reminded me, we don’t appreciate the things we have around us. However, grandeur can have its downsides.
I believe the voices of the choir would have been genuinely ethereal had I not been sitting behind two very large pillars and in front of two very noisy children; I attribute my personal lack of envelopment in the sound down to the acoustics rather than the choir, and would like to hear them in more intimate surroundings. Having said that, I am still left uncertain about whether paying a rather steep 40 pounds for a top end ticket would have been worth it for sound quality alone. With such large-scale events, it’s often the spectacle and experience that draw in the crowds.
Yet, I still did experience what my former music teacher would call ‘a spine-tingling moment’ during the solos in ‘Past Three O’Clock’ and Cornelius’ ‘The Three Kings’. Furthermore - and at the risk of these singers turning into an a cappella group of the Cowell genre (the prospect of which, I admit guiltily, is not entirely unwelcome) - their rendition of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ was the best I have ever heard. Overall, a great evening. Bring on some Christ Church gospel for next year.