Sunday, 17 December 2017

Festive spirit inspires 'Christmas Music Fest'

Festive spirit inspires 'Christmas Music Fest'

A FEAST of festive music is in store next weekend — courtesy of Henley Choral Society and Henley Symphony Orchestra, writes Matthew Wilson.

They announced this week that they have “combined forces” to bring the Henley public a special “Weekend Christmas Music Fest”.

This will take the form of two choral concerts on the Saturday (December 10) at St Mary’s Church in Hart Street, followed by a concert for young children and the orchestra’s full-scale concert for Christmas at Christ Church in Reading Road on the Sunday (December 11).

Choral society chairman Susan Edwards said that for the second year running HCS would be staging two festive performances.

The first of these, at 2.30pm on the Saturday, will see the society and its youth choirs giving their family Christmas concert. This will be followed at 7.30pm by the traditional evening concert.

Mrs Edwards said: “Last year, due to the popularity of our evening Christmas carol concert, we experimented with adding an afternoon family-friendly performance.

“It featured both of our Henley youth choirs and was a huge success, attracting a large and enthusiastic new audience with ticket sales to our evening concert proving enduringly popular amongst our very loyal and established audience.”

The 2.30pm concert is billed as an interactive and entertaining programme especially for a younger audience.

A spokesman for the choral society said: “Everyone is sure to enjoy the grand finale, where the choirs combined will demonstrate their full force by performing Zadok the Priest together.”

Handel’s rousing classic will also feature in the 7.30pm concert alongside Stanford’s Te Deum.

The ever-popular audience participation carols will be interspersed with works by Tavener, Lauridsen and Palestrina, and the concert will feature performances by the Henley Senior Youth Choir.

Joining the choirs for both concerts will be Onyx Brass — described by BBC Music magazine as “easily the classiest brass-playing in Britain” — and virtuoso organist Daniel Moult, who The Organ magazine hailed as “one of the finest organists of our time”.

Tickets for Saturday’s concerts are £12 to £15 or £5 for under-18s, available from Jan French on (01491) 572795, Gorvett & Stone in Duke Street, or from www.
henleychoralsociety.org.uk

The following day, the Christmas music weekend continues with two concerts by Henley Symphony Orchestra.

The 4.30pm Christmas Concert for Young Children is intended especially for families with two- to six-year-olds. Running for just 40 minutes, this offers youngsters the chance to see a live symphony orchestra and join in the music-making with their own rattles and bells during Jingle Bells.

Compere Andy Baker returns with his enormous double bass that never fails to draw the attention of the children.

A spokesman for the symphony orchestra said: “The children will love hearing Humperdinck’s music from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, as well as Blake’s magical music from the Christmas film The Snowman. Everyone can join in the Christmas carols and the concert concludes with Leroy Anderson’s rousing Sleigh Ride.”

Tickets are £5 for adults, £3 for children and free to those under two years old, available from Bagatelle Toys in Bell Street or members of the orchestra.

Rounding off the weekend at 6.30pm is the festive Concert for Christmas.

Aimed at young and old alike, this will again feature Blake’s music from The Snowman — this time followed by Humperdinck’s full overture from Hansel and Gretel. The pace then picks up with dance music from Johann Strauss in the form of the overture to Die Fledermaus and the Thunder and Lightning Polka, as well as a selection from La Boutique Fantasque by Rossini and Respighi.

After the concert, the audience are invited to join members of the orchestra for a glass of mulled wine or a soft drink and a homemade mince pie.

Tickets are £12 for adults, £6 for students and £2 for under-10s, available by calling 01235 859210 or via www.henleysymphony
orchestra.co.uk/contact — where full details of the programme are also available.

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