Followers of Congleton Choral Society always look forward to the concert of carols for choir and audience on the Saturday before Christmas. This year held a new surprise; there were two concerts at the Town Hall on the same day. Both were expertly led by the society's conductor Christopher Cromar and were accompanied on organ and piano by talented musician Michael Wynne.
Three choirs took part in the afternoon concert: the Choral Society, the Choral Academy and the Children's Choir. The children, aged between seven and eleven years, performed a group of songs including Andrew Carter's Grannies and Grandads, The Christmas Tree by Peter Cornelius, and Christmas Alphabet. They also sang with the adults for John Rutter's Star Carol and David Thorne's setting of Hark the Glad Sound. The audience joined in with several carols and it was a joy to see one child enthusiastically waving her toy rabbit in time to The First Nowell!
In the evening the Choral Society and the Choral Academy sang a varied selection of seasonal music. The audience enjoyed listening to traditional tunes such as Deck the Hall, Good King Wenceslas and Jingle Bells. Gustav Holst's medley Christmas Day gave a new take on some old favourites.
No one was surprised to hear carols by John Rutter, including What Sweeter Music? and the Sans Day Carol. The audience also admired the polished delivery of the modern carols Nova, Nova and Midwinter by Bob Chilcott, and Sir Christemas by William Mathias.
One guest commented: 'I enjoyed the evening concert immensely, as did the couple who were sitting next to me. It was their first visit to the Choral Society and they were really impressed.'
Congleton Choral Academy is a non-auditioned choir for adults who enjoy singing and want to improve their performance skills. The Academy joined the main choir for some items and also sang on their own in Merry Christmas by Martin Shaw and Alleluia by William Boyce. One member of the Academy commented: 'I really enjoyed that - and Christopher Cromar is inspirational'.
Expressive readings were given by four members of the Choral Society. John Betjeman's Christmas and St Luke's account from the bible of the birth of Jesus presented a thoughtful and serious view. Benjamin Zephania's Talking Turkeys and The Twelve Days of Christmas : a correspondence by John Julius Norwich were humorous and light-hearted.
By the time the choirs and audience joined together in the last triumphant carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, everyone felt that Christmas Day was close at hand.