The Joy of Christmas, Dereham

GEOFF PULHAM It is hard to describe adequately the precision, professionalism and sheer vocal power displayed by the Mid-Norfolk Singers during this wonderful and varied evening of music with a festive flavour.

GEOFF PULHAM

It is hard to describe adequately the precision, professionalism and sheer vocal power displayed by the Mid-Norfolk Singers during this wonderful and varied evening of music at St Nicholas' Church with a festive flavour. Suffice to say the quality of their output, whether restrained or at full pelt, is so high it has a beguiling, almost calming, effect on the listener and made this reviewer realise there is more to music than rock and roll.

Well-known Christmas carols were interspersed with longer items during the concert, which began with a beautiful version of Away in a Manger, enhanced with enchanting harmonies, before moving into a spirited performance of Holst's Festival de Deum.

Next on the musical menu was Ding Dong Merrily on High, which benefited from a softly-sung chorus, followed by Bach's Sleepers Wake – for me the highlight of the evening. The lilting, flowing tune was delivered flawlessly and complemented perfectly the voices of tenor George Pooley, mezzo soprano Deborah Miles-Johnson and baritone Fearghus Cooper. After a fine version of O Little Town of Bethlehem, the singers gave an exuberant performance of Vaughan-Williams' Fantasia on Christmas before the mood was altered for the final number, Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio. Exquisite strings provided a suitably-ethereal backdrop for soprano Nicola Drake, whose sweet vocals were both charming and inspiring. All in all, a concert of exceptional quality.