Calne Choral

The beautiful 12th-century church of St Mary’s in Calne was alive to the sound of music on Saturday evening when Calne Choral, the oldest choral society in England, performed its Christmas concert.

The church was packed, mulled wine simmered on the stove and tables groaned under the weight of mince pies, while the 60-strong choir, under the leadership of Philip Springate and organist Robin Jackson, took us from Medieval carols to the present day. The concert was interspersed with seasonal readings and traditional carols for audience participation.

There were some sublime solos, the moving poem ‘O Magnum Mysterium’, which was set to music by Gabriele in the 16th century and as a complete contrast, the carol ‘My Lord has Come’ composed in 2012 by Will Todd. This very intense and dramatic piece not only showed off the choir, especially the sopranos, at its best but was a demonstration of how a 21st-century composer can respond to the Christmas story in a way which respects tradition whilst sounding totally fresh.

The choirs next concert - Mozart - is on Saturday, April 6 in St Andrew’s Church, Chippenham and will feature The Requiem and excerpts from The Magic Flute.