The Public Reviews Score
Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
What better way to get in the Christmas mood than an evening of Christmas music at Birmingham’s beautiful Symphony Hall? Certainly, the audience for this festive concert was up for it, many (including this reviewer) dressed in tasteless Christmas jumpers and sporting Santa Claus hats. And the London Concert Orchestra, led by conductor John Rigby and supported by Capital Voices and soloists Jacinta Whyte and Tim Howar certainly don’t disappoint. The programme includes a variety of styles, from the haunting ‘Silent Night’ from Capital Voices, to the rather more raucous ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’. Along the way, we have the opportunity to marvel at the beautiful voices of Whyte and Howar. We first hear Whyte with ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’, in which each verse becomes gradually louder reaching a lovely crescendo at the end. Howar’s first song is ‘Let It Snow’ in which the warmth of his voice is given full rein. Both singers move effortlessly between poppy styles and powerful notes, imbuing each song with proper meaning.
But mostly, this is a fun night. Conductor Rigby is introduced by Whyte as “the exuberant John Rigby”, and he certainly lives up to that epithet. When he’s not energetically conducting, he’s dancing around the orchestra, waltzing with Whyte or joining the high kicking Jingle Belles. Ah, yes, the Jingle Belles! They are eight leggy dancers who dance on stage to a number of the songs, dressed in festive costumes. The choreography of their routines might be rather predictable and unambitious, but they are entertaining and fit right in to the evening even so. The first half is maybe a bit slow to get going, but the obligatory communal singing of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ shortly before the interval certainly gets the audience going as different sections stand for their line, enthusiastically joining in with the actions too. The second half goes like a train with barely time to catch breath. Howar does a very respectable Elvis impression for ‘Blue Christmas’, and the audience enthusiastically clap and dance to the songs.
So a very enjoyable pre-Christmas concert, getting everyone in the mood. Cheesy? Undoubtedly. Sophisticated? Hardly. But feel-good? Definitely!
Reviewed on: 20 December 2013