Two festive concerts, one night

Hastings Philharmonic Choir at St Mary-in-the-Castle and Inspiratus Brass: Molly Townson’s Ensemble Cantabile at St Michael’s Hospice, December 15. Review by Marrion Wells. 
HOLLYWOOD’S favourite scenario: Star attraction falls by the wayside, unknown steps from back row of the chorus and scores a hit. Not totally replicated at St Mary’s on Saturday but nearly - certainly the latter part, and then some!

For early in the programme the Philharmonic’s musical director Marcio da Silva turned on the podium and burst into song with O Holy Night in a resounding tenor which he has been keeping under wraps since he arrived in Hastings.

The surprised and delighted audience would willingly have heard more.

There were more goodies however, thanks to Marcus Plant’s ensemble Inspiratus Brass, with fellow trumpeter Pete Davis, Eira Owen on horn, George Ellis on tuba and Sarah Leeves on trombone whose session included the fiery Sabre Dance ­ before joining the choir in O Little Town of Bethlehem.

The choir responded with O Little Town of Bethlehem, contrasting with Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, Bendicamus Domino and a present-day setting including the audience in The Holly and the Ivy.

John Rutter’s Joy to the World and Candlelight Carol opened the second half in contemporary style, leading into more from the brass ensemble. The Christmas songs and carols by the Children of Christ Church School, St Leonards, directed by John Read delighted the audience. The children’s gentle approach to O Silent Night, followed by Thank You for the Christmas, and Away in a Manger was greatly appreciated.

The choir closed with The Twelve Days of Christmas, and Adeste Fideles - O Come All ye Faithful to rounds of applause from the near-capacity audience which included Mayor Cllr Alan Roberts and Leader of the Council Jeremy Birch.

Thereafter some of the audience hurried to the beautiful St Augustine’s Chapel of St Michael’s Hospice, for music by Molly Townson’s Ladies Choir Cantabile, accompanied by Richard Eldridge.

Soloist Emma Stace Darling charmed with her approach to the 16th century Queen of Heaven and O Holy Night by Adolphe Adam (composer of the ballet Giselle).

With Howard Goodall’s Just a Tale to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, en route including Silent Night and John Rutter’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You Molly assured the audience that Hastings’ long-standing musical tradition is being carried on in a remarkably skilful fashion.