Monday 18 December 2023, 8pm
St John’s Church, Harpenden
Christmas in Blue
Festive jazz and Christmas close harmony, and festive readings.
A selection of carols for choir and audience.
Richard Hills - organ Matthew Woodward - piano
Conducted by Rufus Frowde
There will be seasonal refreshments in the Church Hall after the concert.
Programme notes and seasonal refreshments included in ticket price.
Tickets: Unreserved £16; Students £8; Under 16 Free
Hardynge Choir was delighted to see a very large audience at the Christmas in Blue concert at St John’s Church.
The concert opened with a jazzy upbeat arrangement of Personent Hodie: the tune is anonymous (traditional) German, arranged by Gustav Holst, but the irregular tempo and accompaniment was arranged by Carol Canning. After a short welcome from Rufus Frowde the concert continued with a performance of Jazz Gloria; this popular work is generally considered to be by an anonymous writer, but it may have been written by Natallie Sleeth.
The audience joined us in O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) in the arrangement by David Willcocks. Then the choir sang Nativity Carol, one of John Rutter’s earliest pieces.
After the first reading the choir sang three works: Quem Pastores Laudavere arranged by Nigel Short; Sussex Carol a traditional English Carol arranged by David Willcocks; and Carol with Lullaby, a very moving work by Phyllis Tate.
A second reading was followed by three more works sung by the choir: Sir Christèmas, a lively work by William Mathias; Sans Day Carol a traditional Cornish carol arranged by Peter Hunt; and The Holly and the Ivy a jazzy variant of John Gardner’s work.
After the final reading we were joined by the audience in Good King Wenceslas, an arrangement by Bob Chilcott. Then the choir sang three works: There is no Rose a 15th century English carol arranged by Rufus Frowde; John Rutter’s arrangement of the well known traditional English carol Here We Come A-wassailing; and the tranquil No Small Wonder by Paul Edwards.
As in previous years Richard Hills then amazed and delighted us with his improvised organ solo on Christmas melodies, in which he again sneaked in the famous tune from the Toccata from Widor’s 5th Symphony.
The choir than sang Spring Will Come Again (from 'Wassail! Carols of Comfort and Joy') by Joanna Forbes L’Estrange & Alexander L’Estrange, that we had recently sung in our last concert, Our Fair Ladies.
Finally, the audience joined us in the rousing Ding Dong! Merrily on High to a well known 16th c. French tune, arranged by Peter Hunt.
All the above carols were superbly accompanied by Matthew Woodward, piano, or Richard Hills, organ, and sometimes by both of them.
At the end of the concert Jenny Burley, wearing her (purple) Hospice hat, talked about the important work of the Hospice of St. Francis in Berkhamsted where she is a volunteer, and encouraged the audience to give generously to the retiring collection.
After the concert the choir and audience enjoyed seasonal refreshments in St John’s Church Hall, served by Harpenden Village Inner Wheel.
A couple of days after the concert Jenny circulated the news that Hardynge Choir had raised an incredible £910.74 at the recent events: carol singing at The Odyssey in St Albans raised £50.86 and The Christmas in Blue concert raised £859.88!