Harmonious celebration of Advent

Rock Festival Choir Advent Concert, St Paul’s Church, Alnwick, Sunday, November 27

A LARGE audience was presented with an inspiring performance by the Rock Festival Choir on the first Sunday of Advent.

Their decision three years ago to move the event at St Paul’s Church to the afternoon has proved popular not just because of the winter cold and darkness but due rightly to the special quality of their singing.

They began with an arrangement by Cheryl Camm of Hodie Christus Natus Est, the men’s voices, here on earth, announcing Christ Is Born Today and the women’s voices responding out of vision and sounding like angels in heaven.

An introduction Of The Father’s Love Begotten on the organ brought the choir into focus and led them with a seamless flow of movement and sound into the whole programme.

There were gentle and harmonious arrangements on the familiar subjects of the Advent, The Angel Gabriel and Mary depicted as a rose.

In John Tavener’s The Lamb, the sopranos sang Little Lamb Who Made Thee as if with a single pure voice.

The listener was invited and drawn in to the dance like rhythms of the song This Have I Done For My True Love by Gustav Holst, telling the story of Jesus from birth to death in the words of a Cornish poem.

O Magnum Mysterium by the American Morten Lauridsen was truly serene and spine-tingling.

A modern arrangement of the Coventry Carol by Richard Allain had discords and dissonances which depicted powerfully the threat of Herod but the little, tiny child wins through, perhaps a hopeful reflection for world events today.

This was followed by JS Bach’s O Little One Sweet, every word and every note sung with precision because the message and, indeed, the whole programme mattered so much.

The final piece, Venite, Gaudete! by Adrian Peacock for two choirs, must have almost given the 18-choir members each their own part and what a joyful and thrilling end this made to a wonderful and professional performance.