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Minchinhampton Parish Church

Friday 16 December

Conductor: Philip Colls

The Cappella Singers were joined on this occasion by pianist Timothy Barratt for an unusual programme of music for Christmas. What was particularly unusual this time (and Cappella concerts usually are unusual!) was that Conductor Philip Colls had chosen all the music for its arboricultural and horticultural references.

Thus there were three settings of "There is no rose": the tenors and basses began the concert at the altar with a well known anonymous setting from the 15th century; and the sopranos and altos sang Britten's setting from A Ceremony of Carols. The third setting, later in the concert, was the beautiful setting by John Joubert. Other rose references were to be heard in Praetorius's Est ist ein Rös; and the setting by Howells of A Spotless Rose, in which the choir's singing was suitably mellifluous, with astonishingly fine tuning, and in which the baritone solo was sung equally mellifluously by Paul Prouse.

Timothy Barratt played with typical sensitivity and technical control three pairs of pieces from Weihnachtsbaum by Franz Liszt, the bicentary of whose birth was widely celebrated in 2011.

Other pieces in this collection worthy of Gardeners' Question Time included the evergreen O Tannenbaum; Cornelius's Christbaum; Deck the Hall and two versions of The Holly and the Ivy, Walford Davies's popular and extraordinarily effective arrangement of the traditional tune and, to finish, the lively and original setting by John Gardner, whose death at the age of 94 had been announced only a few days earlier. For this song The Cappella Singers wandered among the surprised and delighted audience. A member of the choir commented on the sudden change of atmosphere as the choir and audience alike became "irrationally exuberant".
Everyone enjoyed it, for it was encored - twice.


The Cappella Singers: Registered Charity no 262530