This concert was full of nostalgia for childhood Christmases spent listening to carols from King’s on the radio: it was like a gentle festive hug. I confess now, I am no expert in choral arrangements so cannot comment on the technicalities of the singing, but as a keen layman listener, I can say the evening was a joy.
The arrangements, and their execution, by the Oxford Pro Musica Singers was fascinating. Watching each part of the choir maintain their pitch and timing when surrounded by the competing sounds of the rest was genuinely impressive.
The opening collection, including Ave Maria and Bogoroditse Devo, was simply beautiful. Familiar enough not to alienate us less well-versed audience members, but using arrangements sometimes different from the most common, made for an engaging line up.
There were one or two pieces where I felt the choir weren't quite sharp enough to fully bring the arrangements to life, and there was perhaps a lull halfway through the first portion of the evening, where the momentum fell a little flat.
After the interval, however, the choir came back with a bang with Britten’s Procession of Carols, accompanied delicately by Rupert McShane on the harp. A few female members of the choir offered some lovely, if a little nervous, solos and the entire movement built to a wonderful crescendo.
As a bit of a Christmas nut, my favourites came towards the end with classics like Coventry Carol, and the evening ended on wonderful jolly choral arrangements of the Christmas Song and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, which were great fun.
The setting of St. John the Evangelist's Church added fantastic acoustics, and the choir took advantage of the nave for the opening of Britten’s Procession of Carols, which was a nice touch.
It’s also worth noting the Oxford Pro Musica Singers have been supporting the Oxfordshire Fund for Music, which provides financial support to help less well-off children receive music lessons through the Oxford Music Service. Friday night was no exception and after such an enjoyable performance, the audience were more than willing to give.
A relaxing, festive and enjoyable evening all round.