Christmas Cracker Concert Review

Christmas Cracker Concert

It was the week before Christmas (give or take a few days)… and the St. Michaels Singers were behaving virtuously by offering rich entertainment for the village and its neighbourhood. Of course, this Christmas concert is well-established as a most happy and friendly event to start off the festive celebrations and its reputation is far and wide – I found myself talking with a gentleman from Orleton and there were many others present from Tenbury and the surrounding villages.

We were treated to a fine programme of singing, readings and dramatisations put together by the very resourceful and accomplished Jacqui Cable who was conducting her third (I think) annual concert. She let it be known that the contents had taken nine months from first conception, which struck a strangely familiar bell. The backbone of the evening was a sequence of medleys of both devotional and secular music ranging from Pearsall to Irvin Berlin that the choir addressed lustily and in fine harmonic style. There were a number of “swing” pieces, very well suited to the Singers’ sharp ear for syncopation: “Anything Goes” which closed the first part and the “Forest Gump Medley” that opened the second were two such high points of communal singing. But there were also individual renditions that were really quite outstanding. The sequence of vocalists in “7 Joys of Mary” and both Jacqui and Geoff in “Mary, did you know?” are two points I particularly remember, but there were several others also that delighted at the time.

I relished the introduction of brand new pieces – the lilting, rhythmic “Italian Pipers Carol” and “Away in a Manger” sung in unison to a beautiful alternative melody. Relished too on quite a different tack certain old muckers of mine doing their barbers’ quartet stuff, led by Brian, with the very definitely secular “Dinah won’t you blow” and an emotive “Silent Night”.

Then there was the spoken word. Ros contributing a personal touch with (surely?) her own poetic Christmas Message, Anne Fox giving her all to creating the wolf in a Roald Dahl ditty (excellently delivered by Vicky) and making lateness on cue a theatrical triumph, Pat becoming a sour complaining Mrs Scrooge in another command reading (where did that characterisation have its origins…Geoff?) and Chris B’s “Birth of a Tradition” that contained the best joke of the evening by far. And I’m sorry about that one, Mike J.

Finally, Santa Claus himself appeared in red plush and a wondrous fleece of white hair and beard concealing, some said, Mike E. and drove us all on a rollicking “Jogging along with Mi Reindeer.”

Two matters of organisation for the evening that made very good sense were firstly, this concert included more individual soloists than any I can recall so that we were introduced to many distinct capabilities and secondly, that the male voices were placed centrally in the body of the choir – which lent them a more robust and concerted sound.

Mike Jordan performed his part as compere with suitable panache (and jumper) even if he needed the help of a nine-year old boy for his punch-lines. Quite properly he gave a round of thanks to all who had helped with furnishing the hall, the catering, bar and raffle and in very much particular to Kath Ainsworth, who had slaved away as pianist like an automaton throughout the evening and who was effectively the mainspring of the entire complex machine.

So hearty thanks again to everyone for a most happy evening that sent us off in high spirits to our baking, stuffing-doing and vegetable prepping for that other major event to come. (And thank you also, Mike, for letting me sing the Third King – something I have been waiting to do for the past fifteen years!)

Graham Plender