For this reviewer, Bury Choral Society’s Christmas concert is an event much looked forward to, as it is invariably a source of many good, seasonal things musical. This year’s was as good as, if not better than, ever.
Musical Director Juan Ortuno’s cheerful exuberance sets the scene, but his light-heartedness never means losing his grip on the material. And what a mix we had, too much to mention items individually, but nearly all suitably Christmassy.
Choral highlights for me were Michael (“the other”) Haydn’s Run ye Shepherds to the Light, John Rutter’s calmly melodic I Wish You Christmas and, piece de resistance, Vaughan William’s sublime Fantasia on Christmas Carols. The chorus dealt with all that came their way with smiling aplomb.
Accompaniment and solo items were provided by the hugely talented Jonathan Ellis on the piano and Elin Rees on the organ, with additional support from the Bury Camerata Quartet. And as in the past, Beryl Shepherd provided variety with a couple of Christmassy readings from the writings of Alan Coren and Charles Dickens.
Mention must be made of invited soloist, baritone Samuel Jackson, a young man of great talent and calm presence. His solo of Benjamin Britten’s arrangement of I Wonder as I Wander was exquisite, while his solo with choral backing at the opening of the Vaughan William’s Fantasia could not be bettered.
In summary, the best possible way to start the festive season, made even better for your reviewer by his winning a Christmas hamper in the raffle!