City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Gloria and a Feast of Christmas Music, Greyfriars Kirk, Review

By Editor - Posted on 29 December 2013

Show Details
Greyfriars Kirk
The Edinburgh Singers
John Gormley, Musical Director
Performers: Soloists: Sopranos: Elizabeth McColl, Catherine Siddall, Aileen Boyle, Claire Claymore; Altos: Nicola Stock, Ailis Sandilands; Tenor: David Leavor; Bass: Mark Woods, Pat Snowdon. Organ: Henry Wallace, Greyfriars Kirk’s Director of Music and Organist The Brass Diversions Ensemble: Trumpets - Bryan Allen, Simon Bird, Mark O'Keefe, Tom Poulson; Trombones - Chris Mansfield, Cillian O'Ceallachian; Bass Trombone - Tom Smith; Tuba - Kenneth Brown; Timpani - Ruari Donaldson; Percussion - Phil Hague, Amy Murch
Running time: 

That glorious venue for music, Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, with its wonderful, warm-toned organ* was the setting for a fine pre-Christmas concert given by the Edinburgh Singers on a wild night that certainly didn’t deter their audience.

It was a concert of two very different halves, the first consisting of more traditional music and the second being decidedly modern.

There is really no substitute for listening to live music. The thrilling sounds of organ and brass duetting together seemed to wrap the audience in a cocoon of togetherness, which was a good preparation for the mass singing of the carols.

The first half opened and closed with two pieces from the ever-popular singers’ composer John Rutter: Te Deum and Gloria. In between John Gormley’s setting of Puer natus in Bethlehem was delightfully sensitive and gentle, while the full glory of the organ and brass carried the choir into a thrilling paen fit to raise the church’s roof. In between the audience joined the choir to sing carols.

Mince pies and mulled wine set the scene for a mental turn-around into a modern ‘take’ on Christmas music.

The second half had a distinctly modern, spiritual flavour. The rarely- heard Poulenc Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël was a gossamer veil that draped over the very short. mystical Hymn to the Mother of God that was a timely, elegant tribute to the late Sir John Tavener who had died 33 days before. Chris Hutchings reminded the choir of their Scottishness with his Bulalow and then a gorgeous arrangement of In the bleak midwinter.

I applaud the Director John Gormley’s brave initiative in including the final item: The Christmas song, penned by the evergreen Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in 1946. However, it didn’t work in this place. For this reviewer, the concert should have ended with O come all ye faithful and The Christmas song (aka Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) saved for an encore where it would have worked very well, giving the audience a final chance to join in.

*Built by Peter Collins, Melton, Mowbray and installed in 1990

Show times

Friday 14th December 19.30pm – Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh.