Christmas 2013

Belhaven Church, December 2013

Dunbar’s Christmas lights may have been sparkling for a few weeks already, but the festive season really seems close when Dunbar Choral Society presents its Christmas concert of carols and readings.

On Wednesday last, an eager audience gathered in Belhaven Church and was not disappointed. No procession this year, but the Advent Sunday Matins Responsary made an effective opening and was sung with full sound and excellent diction. The ensuing programme of carefully chosen carols took us into various centuries and to various countries – particular highlights for this listener were ‘Here we come a-wassailing’, sung with clear words and good rhythm, ‘Jingle Bells’ which truly brought good cheer in its energy and good dynamic control, the catchy 15th century ‘Angel Alleluias’, and the Ukrainian and Russian carols – in the ‘Carol of the Bells’ the bell sounds were well characterised, and the ‘Christmas Candle’ carol had a real flavour of the riches of Russian traditional music.

Interspersed with the carols were groupings of seasonal readings, verbal pictures of Christmas-time – past, present, and from all sorts of angles! Experienced readers Linna Pumphrey and Gordon Roberts entertained us well, in styles both serious and humorous – we shared Princess Victoria’s concern, in her 1835 Journal Christmas entries, for “such a nice set of gypsies”, we enjoyed hearing about the council workers putting up ‘Selkirk’s Christmas tree’, and appreciated the ‘Reindeer Report’, and ‘Master Thomas Beecham’s Carol’, to mention just a few items.

There were carols for audience too, and the evening ended on a high note with It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Dunbar Choral, directed with skill and enthusiasm, as ever, by Vaughan Townhill and sensitively accompanied by David Townhill, was in good voice and the audience was surely delighted.

Review byBarbara Richerby