Shrewsbury Choral's Spirit of Christmas review


Shrewsbury Abbey ****
This old grouch has never felt so Christmassy for years, and it is all thanks to what happened in Shrewsbury last Saturday.
Shrewsbury Choral brought to life "The Spirit of Christmas" together with the choirs of Meole Brace School and Prestfelde School, accompanied by the spirited Meole Brace Chamber Orchestra under the clear, urbane baton of Martin Charles Cook.
This was a wonderful celebration from participants of all ages, reflected in the community audience packing this huge, ancient building. We heard well-delivered orchestral offerings, with a particularly moving Hansel and Gretel Overture (wonderful winds, the orchestra needing a few more strings), contributions from the children which caught the heart (one little dot jigging along gleefully), though perhaps needing a bit more forward projection towards the audience, and sonorous singing from Shrewsbury Choral itself.
And the whole evening was genially marshalled by Wynne Evans, his compering continually taking the mickey out of his "Go Compare" persona – and the night's conductor, valiantly filling the acoustic of the vast, noble Shrewsbury Abbey without the assistance of a failed sound-system, and somehow maintaining his voice to give us memorable solo offerings, such as "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" among several others.
He also encouraged us to join in community carol-singing (even I contributed my cross-bred tenor/baritone), and goaded us to Mexican wave at the "Five gold rings" episode in The Twelve Days of Christmas, and that was a hoot.
All of the performers had donned Christmas garb for the second half of this heartwarming concert – Evans appearing in a variety of Christmas jumpers – an event for which it would be difficult for anything else to go compare.
Christopher Morley

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