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from the Wokingham Times, January 2012

'Variety gives festive cheer to audiences'

All Saints' Church, Wokingham
 

The Wokingham Choral Society's Christmas Concert has established itself as a 'hot ticket' for the local festive scene. This year's expectations were more than fulfilled.

Their concert on 10 December, at All Saints' Church, was given with their offspring, the Wokingham Choral Academy, under the batons of their respective Musical Directors, Alexander Chaplin and Jo McNally, with the Academy's accompanist Andrew McKenna at the piano.

The programme was memorable for its rich variety - there was something for absolutely everyone - and its sheer musicality. The Choral Society confirmed that their clarity of tone and diction, conspicuous in their performance of the Armed Man in November, was no flash in the pan, and the recently formed Academy sang both with panache and evident relish.

Unusually, supported by percussion, the framework was provided by a Brass Quintet who opened each half of the programme and added a striking richness of texture to the communal carols. And the trumpets and organ were a perfect accompaniment to a memorable Hallelujah Chorus, rounding off the first half.

 

There were, in fact, so many wonderful musical moments that it is almost invidious to pick anything out, but for the writer the highlights included the Society's Jesus Christ the apple tree followed by Willcocks' arrangement of Jingle Bells and the Academy's Sans Day Carol. Singing together the choirs gave a splendid rendering of the ingenious and witty Twelve Days of Christmas by Craig Courtney - definitely a work to look out for.

Alexander Chaplin, with his concert pianist mother, Eileen Broster, performed a spectacular duet of extracts from the Nutcracker Suite and the concert ended with a Christmas Canon, arranged by Jo McNally.

A special word has to be said about Alexander Chaplin who not only planned this imaginative concert but in the course of the evening was conductor, suave compère along with Jo McNally, organist, pianist and even (again with Jo) soloist.

The next concert by the Choral Society is the Monteverdi Vespers in the University of Reading Great Hall on Saturday, 31st March 2012, a key date for music lovers' diaries.

R.J. EAGLEN