Rick's Silent Nights rock the cathedral

MARK NICHOLLS Keyboard virtuoso Rik Wakeman brought a huge sprinkling of festive sparkle to Norwich Cathedral last night with a magical concert of Christmas music and song.

MARK NICHOLLS

Keyboard virtuoso Rik Wakeman brought a huge sprinkling of festive sparkle to Norwich Cathedral last night with a magical concert of Christmas music and song.

In the magnificent setting of the cathedral, and to a building packed with hundreds Wakeman introduced a blend of his own songs with some of the best loved festive tunes and carols.

With the smell of mulled wine drifting through the colossal nave the audience was taking on a mesmerising musical journey through Christmas.


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Narrators related the history of carols and their meaning before Wakeman and a stunning selection of musicians and soloists - accompanied by the English Chamber Choir - gave a unique interpretation of those carols.

O Come All Ye Faithful was followed by his daughter Jemma singing When An Angel Spoke To Me before narrator Christopher Strauli portrayed the story of Hark The Herald Angels Sing and the choir, under the leadership of Guy Protheroe, filled the Cathedral with its verses.

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The EDP sponsored concert was held to raise funds for Norwich Cathedral and the Norfolk Churches Trust and is already scheduled to be repeated in 2008. Other key sponsors of the evening were City Living Developments and The Dunbar Bank.

The eclectic mix of music had one overriding aim - to put Norwich well and truly in the Christmas spirit.

Well-known guitarist and a close friend of Wakeman, Gordon Giltrap, gave a number of solo performances in his own inimitable style.

While the massive pillars of the Cathedral were not best suited to a good all-round view for everybody the Cathedral performed magnificently in terms of the acoustics and perfectly carried voices and instruments throughout.

Wakeman, who is a devout Christian and lives on the Norfolk-Suffolk border also played excerpts of his own pieces themed on the Gospels and relaying the story of Christmas with narrative Jamie de Courcey and a solo from Ramon Remedios.

Twas The Night Before Christmas, was read to musical accompaniment, after a fascinating insight into the inspiration for the popular poem first published in December 1823.

With the story related by Christopher Strauli of children in their beds, sugar plums dancing in their heads in a house where not even a mouse stirred, the audience was enchanted by the musical accompaniment to the verse.

It continued with the arrival of Saint Nick in his sleigh drawn by Dancer, Prancer, Blitzen and the other reindeer before he descended the chimney and delivered Christmas presents.

The evening was a huge success, a moving festive extravaganza with a blend of traditional and modern music, seasonal poetry and verse, in a wonderful retelling of the story of Christmas.

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