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Carols by Candlelight: A Yuletide Concert | South London Singers

Saturday December 16, 2023 at 19:45
Christ Church, Beckenham
Free admission – a ticket is required

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  1. A Ceremony of Carols Op 28 - Benjamin Britten, arranged for mixed chorus and harp by Julius Harrison
  2. In the bleak midwinter - Harold Darke
  3. The Little Road to Bethlehem - Michael Head
  4. Angels, from the realms of glory - Traditional, arranged by Roger Wibberley

To quote the 14th century words set by Benjamin Britten ‘Wolcum Yole’! The South London Singers under conductor Nicholas Wibberley with accompanist Jack Stone would like to welcome y’all to our concert as we look forward to the time when we do welcome Yule. The core work will be Benjamin Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’.

It is amazing to think that the bulk of this ebullient work was written in early 1942 as Britten and Peter Pears returned to the U.K. from the U.S.A. Britten composed in order to beat the boredom of the trip. There must also have been a degree of anxiety, and the circumstances were not ideal for composing music as the Swedish cargo ship chugged across the u boat infested North Atlantic. Fanciful, of course, but can we feel the incessant rhythm of the ship’s engines in some of the movements such as ‘This Little Babe’?

The South London Singers are very pleased to welcome back Keziah Thomas, who has worked with us a number of times before to provide, as Britten intended, the solo harp accompaniment.

After first performance in 1942, Britten made some amendments and additions resulting in the current format of ten carols with a harp interlude. The work was intended for treble voices and harp but proved so popular from its first performance that a four-part version with harp or piano was arranged by Julius Harrison in 1955 and this is how we will present it.

Needless to say, there will be plenty of other seasonal music as we set out on a metaphorical trip along the little road to Bethlehem, including the now established South London Singers tradition of performing Harold Darke’s setting of ‘In the bleak midwinter’. Alternative melodies for well known carols are not always welcome but the version of ‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’ here by Roger Wibberley has a delightful rolling quality that is well worth a hearing. The audience will have their own chance to join in with well known carols and the atmosphere will be heightened by the ambience of candlelight (though not the health and safety issues!)

We are conscious of the financial pressures at this time and wish to make full use of the larger venue for this concert at Christ Church and, accordingly, are offering free entry to the concert. Our costs in putting on this concert remain significant, of course, so we will invite audience members to contribute to a collection, without pressure, with as much or as little as they feel able. To avoid disappointment, please obtain your free ticket reservation via our website.

Christ Church
Fairfield Road

This advertisement was submitted by South London Singers Charity.
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