Chichester's Christmas Concerts offer fantastic start to festive season

Royal Marines Band
Royal Marines Band

REVIEW: Christmas Concerts, Chichester Festival Theatre, until Saturday, December 10.

There’s no finer sound than Chichester Cathedral choir in full flow, and under Charles Harrison, they are scaling ever-greater heights.

Add to that the wonderful sight of the Band Of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth in all their magnificence, and it’s the perfect combination for a festive concert.

Just the one element is missing. The schools choirs used to be such an important part of this event. It would be lovely to see them restored to the occasion however unwieldy they were at times in getting on and off the stage.

Their massed voices added that special extra element. It would be good too to have the programmes restored - always good to know what you are listening to and nice to know what’s coming up.

But the main thing is that Chichester Festival Theatre’s Christmas concerts are firmly back on the programme - and joyously so.

Marines musical director Captain Ian Davis is the perfect host, pitching it just right between the seriousness and the jokes. And you can hear the respect his musicians have for him. It shows in the music, every last note of it. As ever, the Corps of Drums is quite something to behold.

As for the Cathedral choir, they are in very special hands with master of the choristers Charles Harrison. The boys brought plenty of first-half tingle; in the second half, the choir’s adults - the six lay vicars - showed admirable skill under the very appropriate name, Close Harmony.

It all adds up to a sparkling and hugely-enjoyable night. Bring back the schools, and we’ll have the icing on our Christmas cake.

Phil Hewitt

Have you checked out our new Christmas section yet?

It's packed with ideas and tips to ensure you make the most out of the festive season.

There's recipes, suggestions for presents and everything from choosing your tree to recycling your packaging and paper.

Go to www.chichester.co.uk/christmas/