A big debate you’ll inevitably be a part of is when Christmas officially starts; some people argue the start of December, others argue when the Coca-Cola Christmas adverts hit our screens, and some of the keenest elves believing straight after Halloween. For me, however, it has always been when I visit my first Christmas carol concert.

Being from a village, carol concerts are a regular occurrence during November/December and nothing gets a community together quite like it. Carol concerts always hold some of my best memories of village life, and the Contemporary Choir’s performance in St. Michael and All Angel’s church certainly reminded me of why.

The setting: a dark, cold winters evening in a beautiful, richly lit church where some of my favourite Christmas songs – as well as a few off-the-cuff modern pop songs, even a Zulu traditional song – echoed through the nave and aisles. Carol concerts where I reside tend to stick to the traditional set lists, so a performance with a mix of new, old and unexpected tunes was a refreshing listen. All the while, the contemporary Choir sang with passion, excitement and superb timing – certainly helped by president Jack Watts’ direction.

a performance with a mix of new, old and unexpected tunes was refreshing

I enjoyed the choice of songs for the evening. A personal highlight was Carol Williams’ arrangement of ‘Lean on Me’, the Bill Withers anthem, which complemented the choir’s energy and passion for their performance excellently. At many points, I was enjoying the performance so much I needed reminding that only the choir were supposed to sing certain songs!

Praise is warranted for the brilliant accompanist Amy Dowd, who drove the choir well with her brilliant piano service, joined on occasion by organist Harry Sullivan and bass guitarist Andrew Cox who enriched the choirs already wholesome sound. Of course, however, the biggest kudos is deserved by president Jack Watts, who directed the choir excellently and worked tirelessly to organise and execute the whole stellar evening. Nothing quite gets you in the Christmas spirit like 50+ voices singing in harmony, whilst the smell of mulled wine and mince pies hangs in the air – to me, the perfect remedy if you’re not quite feeling the holiday cheer.

Jack Watts directed the choir excellently and worked tirelessly to organise and execute a stellar evening

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