Choirs Bring Joy in The Bleak Mid-Winter
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Bolton School Girls' Division's Ceremony of Carols offered a joyous and festive evening as the bleak mid-winter rattled against the windows of the School's Great Hall.
The girls of the Chamber Choir opened the concert as they processed into the hall with the evocative plainsong melody Hodie. Headmistress Miss Hincks welcomed the large gathering of governors, parents, staff and friends of the School before the Joint Chamber Choir offered up rousing renditions of a number of well-loved carols including In the Bleak Mid-Winter and Once in Royal David's City, where they were joined by the whole congregation.
There were then many highlights in what was a wonderful evening of Christmas music, prayers, reflections and readings.
The combined choirs sang John Gardiner's lively version of The Holly and the Ivy and the exquisite five-part arrangement of The Three Kings by Peter Cornelius; the singing of these two delightful pieces having become a Bolton School Girls' Division tradition. The Senior Choir performed an enchanting setting of the sacred Scandinavian Christmas carol Gaudete as well as Rutter's Star Carol and a spellbinding interpretation of Stille Nacht, which was accompanied by a harp.
The Middle School Choir performed an enchanting version of Schram's Snow is Falling as well as an inspirational Do They Know its Christmas? Not to be outdone, the Junior Chamber Choir delivered an uplifting and enchanting version of Albrecht's Mary Sat A-Rockin'. The Shepherd's Farewell, sung by the Chamber Choir and The Linden Tree Carol performed by the "Accidentals" provided further memorable moments during the evening.
Throughout the evening there was an emphasis on audience participation and they certainly lent their stirring voices to Christmas favourites including O Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night and Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!
There were a variety of beautiful readings, notably Since Love is Shivering, I Sing of a Maiden, Singing in the Streets, Incarnation, St John Chapter 1, T S Eliot's Journey of the Magi and the Carol Ann Duffy's armistice poem Peace in the Trenches.
The Ceremony of Carols was brought to a moving and atmospheric conclusion by the whole hall singing Adeste Fideles and the recession, by candlelight, of the girls of the Chamber Choir singing Hodie.
A retiring collection raised £901.17 on the night and the money will be presented to the Bolton Hospice. Afterwards members of the congregation were invited to the Dining Room for seasonal refreshments to a further musical accompaniment.