Christmas with Southern Voices REVIEW

Christmas with Southern Voices REVIEW
Type of post: Press article
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Mark Wainwright
Status: Archived
Date Posted: Wed, 20 Dec 2023

Christmas with Southern Voices

The annual Southern Voices choir, “Christmas with Southern Voices” concert, was held at Chapel of St Cross in Winchester on a crisp winter's night in mid-December. As the conductor Jamal Sutton stated, this takes us on a journey of “the old and the new, the English, American and European, and darkness to light.” The evening was brimming at the seams with an enthusiastic audience who joyfully joined in with the jubilant carol singing.

The programme, comprised of a prodigious concoction of both old and new composers (some of whom were connected to Winchester such as Malcolm Archer and Herbert Howells) was perfectly balanced between Choir, Organ Solo by George Castle and the audience's carol singing, leaving us with the warm feeling of a community spirit at Christmas. I was particularly taken by Three Carol-Anthems which include Here is the little door, Sing lullaby, and A spotless rose. Those succeeded in invoking a profound feeling of intimacy especially as the harmony was so well controlled with a magnificently elegant lyrical flow. I was also touched to listen to I heard the bells on Christmas day which is based on the 1863 poem Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). Longfellow was probably the most widely known and best-loved American poet of the c19th and, incidentally, one of the few American writers who is honoured in the poets' corner of Westminster Abbey. Something which few people probably realise today is that his words in that carol referred to the sounds of Christmas bells during the American Civil War of the mid-1850s.

The choir is now looking for people to join their Celebratory 40th anniversary next year. The plan already sounds very exciting: a performance of Tallis’ 40 parts motet Spem in alium on 23rd March at St Cross and the day of “Come and Sing with the choir” on 4th May. I am sure that the evening's concert has succeeded in inculcating a strong incentive to attend any of these future events.

 --  Nao Dickson