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Concert a wonderful start to Christmas

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Matthew Ross, left and Conrad Roach play the trumpet in the Bermuda School of Music’s Joy To The World concert (Photograph supplied)

In the Bermuda School of Music’s Christmas concert, Joy To The World, director Marjorie Pettit led 100 talented singers and musicians to give an unforgettable evening of unalloyed Christmas joy.

The Bermuda Chamber Choir and Orchestra and The Bermuda School of Music Youth Choir performed in the concert on Friday at St John’s Church in Pembroke.

Ms Pettit’s carefully thought-out balance of the traditional and modern included material new to us, but of outstanding quality and interest. Every performance supported the central concept of a joyous Advent tide.

And to draw us into the spirit of the concert, she made us all part of it. We joined with the choirs to sing four favourite traditional carols with them, including, of course, Isaac Watts’ Joy to The World.

The Bermuda School of Music’s Christmas concert was back at St John’s Church after a long hiatus due to the pandemic (Photograph supplied)

It was quite marvellous for us, after the long Covid-imposed silence, to be able to join in and sing with these fine musicians whose presence and strength encouraged us to greater efforts.

Included in the traditional choral works were a number of beautiful classical part works, beautifully executed, especially the two chorales from Handel’s Messiah, For unto us a Child is born and the Hallelujah Chorus. These performances were anchors around which the concert revolved.

Handel’s music, for me, always has a freshness which never fades and the choir’s seventy singers produced levels of intensity and emphasis which brought it to new, exhilarating life.

Performances included works from many different sources and traditions including Spain, France, Moravia, Germany and Finland.

The finely executed version of the Carol of the Bells reminded me that its composer was Ukrainian. Among the less familiar music was the Lullaby by Arnold Cooke, O Men From the Fields, performed solo by Youth Choir member Euan Forster.

Euan sang beautifully and simply with minimal accompaniment and the simple message of domestic love and security was profoundly moving for us all.

The instrumental highlight of the evening was Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Trumpets performed with dazzling clarity and obvious enjoyment by Matthew Ross and Conrad Roach.

An echoing, fuguelike, melodic chase of heraldic fanfares gave way to a slow movement beautifully punctuated by Andrea Hodson-Patton’s keyboard in the manner of Autumn from the Four Seasons.

The last movement returned to the fanfares with dazzling trills and powerful unison work before the string-led finale.

Raymond George’s moving organ arrangement of Nettleton’s Come Thou Font of Every Blessing accompanied us out at the end of the performances. Marjorie Pettit and her talented musicians have once more given us a wonderful start to Christmas.

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Published December 16, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated December 16, 2022 at 12:41 pm)

Concert a wonderful start to Christmas

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