Having begun life as a choral society for the staff and parents at Wellingborough School, the choir’s concert pattern was formed to avoid times of public examination. This had the added benefit of ensuring that each concert had sufficient rehearsals so that even those with no choral experience would have time to get under the surface of the works being sung.
We continue this pattern today* with most seasons including two concerts – one in May and another at Christmas. For each we therefore have the luxury of around fourteen or fifteen rehearsals. Both concerts can therefore be pretty ambitious, and our Christmas concerts in particular, are often spectacular (not least because of our Christmas Jumper rehearsals!).
The first half of our Christmas concerts is normally a large-scale choral work, more often than not with small orchestra and soloists; part one of Handel Messiah, Haydn St Nicholas Mass, Pachelbel Magnificat, Puccini Messa di Gloria, and Vivaldi Gloria have all featured in recent years. Those large-scale choral works are sometimes Christmas-themed, and performances have included Britten Ceremony of Carols and Saint Nicolas; Buxtehude Das neugeborne Kindelein; Chilcott On Christmas night; Gundry Hail! Sacred Day; McDowall Christus natus est; Ramírez Navidad Nuestra; and Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Christmas Carols.
Christmas is also a great time to return to old favourites, and so in the second half we have a large repertoire of carol arrangements, including many from the Carols for Choirs series. Our Musical Director, Lee Dunleavy, has been gently planning our first CD recording, which will feature carols arranged or composed by the legendary John Rutter. Our last three Christmas concerts (2017, 2018, and 2019) have included no fewer than fifteen Rutter carols. The real cherry on the top is to perform them not with piano or organ, but in Rutter’s own glinting and glistening orchestrations. When we return from our pandemic-enforced break, we hope to add a few more into repertoire, including one of his recent masterpieces, Christ our Emmanuel, and an old favourite we haven’t sung yet, Donkey Carol.
- All bells in paradise
- Angels’ Carol
- Candlelight Carol
- Dormi Jesu
- God rest you merry, gentlemen (arr.)
- Hark! the herald angels sing (arr.)
- Love came down at Christmas
- Nativity Carol
- O come, all ye faithful (arr.)
- Shepherd’s Pipe Carol
- Star Carol
- The Twelve Days of Christmas (arr.)
- We wish you a merry Christmas (arr.)
- What sweeter music
* 2020 and 2021 were, of course, exceptional years. In 2020 the pandemic prevented us from singing any concerts at all, and in 2021 we sang a Remembrance Sunday concert instead of our usual Christmas performance.