Marcio da Silva is singing O Holy Night.
It must be Christmas once again. Since that time he first turned to face us and sing, the carol has become not only a fixed point in the Christmas calendar but a quintessential emblem of all that is best in Hastings at this time of year.
Hastings Philharmonic Choir goes from strength to strength, the top sopranos excelling in a number of unfamiliar but very rewarding carols. Alongside the carols for audience participation we heard William Mathias’ A Babe is Born, with its tight rhythms and accuracy of diction, and the ladies only singing with great tenderness There Is No Rose from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.
There was strong dynamic range in Bob Chilcott’s The Shepherd’s Carol which segued easily into the harmonies of Tavener’s The Lamb.
Inspiritus Brass provided the choir with a break with lively arrangements of Little Drummer Boy and Mr Sandman, returning during the second half with Jungle Bells and Deck the Halls.
It was good to see Tom McLelland-Young in the audience to hear the choir sing his moving setting of Jesu, Son Most Sweet And Dear, before we all indulged ourselves in the Sussex Carol.
Following Unto Us Is Born A Son, we arrived at O Holy Night and the climax of the evening. Not only has Marcio not sung this better, the choir was superbly in tune with him, not just musically but emotionally.
If the rhythms in Hurford’s On A Sunny Bank seemed a little bumpy after this the choir came back into shape for Rutter’s Donkey Carol.
It was then time for local children, this year drawn from the choir of Christ Church Primary school, who sang two settings by John Rutter and Johnson’s Midnight. If Marcio da Silva achieves his dream of a children’s and young people’s choir, maybe in future years we will hear Hastings Philharmonics own young singers? The children led us in Away in a Manger before we came to the final choral item, Mathias’ Sir Christemus - a lovely setting but somewhat upstaged by the return of the children to the gallery. We went on our way with the triumphant sounds of O Come All Ye Faithful ringing in our ears. By Brian Hick.