Christmas is coming with a feast of music in Seaton

PUBLISHED: 16:45 27 November 2010

Archant

A feast of Christmas music, accompanied by harp and piano, will be presented by Seaton Choral Society on Saturday, December 4, at Seaton Methodist Church.

The centrepiece - A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten, is a work of startling contrasts.

After a short Procession to an atmospheric plainsong chant, there is medieval warmth and enthusiasm in the chorus Wolcum Yule!

The music then reflects on the pristine innocence and simplicity of the birth, as well as the cruelty of its bitter cold.

The solo harp accompaniment emphasises the impression of radiance and fragility in such words as : “He came all so still, as dew in April…”, while in the setting of Robert Southwell’s poem This Little Babe, the individual chorus parts tumble over each other to rally to the call of the infant Christ : “The gates of hell he will surprise” announces the chorus. And so he does, with weapons that are unheard of: cold, need, feeble flesh, babish cries.

At the tumultuous climax the voices of the chorus unite in an irresistible cry:

“If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy, then flit not from this heavenly boy !”

The music Britten found for these words is a measure of his genius.

The programme also includes harp solos, a highly-entertaining Holly and the Ivy by John Gardner, songs and duets from tenor Leslie Baker and baritone David Fouracre, and other choral items ending with Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols.

This combines the familiar and the new, and captures Christmas like few other works.

From the opening solo baritone telling us of “the Truth sent from above” to the final choir ‘fade-out’, wishing us all a happy New Year, Christmas is celebrated with real fervour.

Mulled fruit juice and mince pies will be served in the interval.

Tickets/programmes costing £9 (under 18s free) are available from Brainwave in Seaton or on the door.


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