Review of our Christmas Concert, 2024

‘Brilliantly Beautiful and Bright’: Fareham’s Philharmonic Choir Celebrates Christmas.

Fareham’s Philharmonic choir celebrated Christmas in style on Saturday evening (16th) with a magical display of powerful pieces to classic carols.

By Isaac Maddock, a student journalist

A 60 strong choir, led by musical director Andrew Cleary, got together for an evening of angelic entertainment at the Holy Trinity Church, Fareham. With the choirs 125th year anniversary just around the corner, they wanted to put on a spectacular show.

The audience were treated to solos from the amazing Chris Williams, who is a bass-baritone soloist, singing with the choir for the first time. The show was opened by Vaughan Williams’ fantasia on Christmas carols which was accompanied by the smooth, peaceful sounds of the organ, played by the talented Sachin Gunga.

Musical director, Cleary, brilliantly engaged with the audience, encouraging us to join in with classic carols alongside the choir. The congregation were happy to oblige and were up and down from their seats throughout the evening. Among the crowd included the Mayor of Fareham who watched on from the pews and joined in with the carols.

Soloist, Williams, told me how much of a pleasure it was to sing with the choir, but also, he mentioned how difficult some of the songs were to perfect. His voice however turned out to be an operatic masterpiece and filled the church hall.

The interval saw the audience and choir indulge in mince pies and wine and then we were straight back to the action with a spine-tingling performance of Joy to the World. The singing was split up with a few readings from Christmas tales to humorous poems which gave the show an extra bit of fun.

The entertainment was finished off with a choral version of the classic carol, We Wish you a Merry Christmas and ended with the audience of just over a hundred giving a standing ovation to what was a spectacular evening of Christmas joy and outstanding voices.

Lots of the choir members I spoke to, told me how much the choir meant to them and how they’ve seen the group grow over recent years. Some mentioned about the struggles of rehearsing during covid using zoom and the drop in numbers that brought. Others spoke about the recent growth since covid seeing about 60 members weekly.

For more information or if you would like to join the choir head over to their website. https://fpchoir.org/

Dress code for October concert

Men

The committee has felt for a while that our traditional dress of ‘black tie’ for the gentlemen is very formal and rather dated. Many choirs and orchestras have now adopted a smart but less stiff form of dress. We would like to move in this direction and so have decided that for the October concert we will ask the men to wear a black shirt (top button undone) and black trousers.  

A quick investigation online has shown that relatively inexpensive black shirts are not hard to find so we hope that this will not prove too much of a problem. We’ll say something about this at the next rehearsal but meanwhile if you follow this link you will see the sort of thing we mean. It will take you to Marks and Spencer but, of course, other suppliers are available.  This particular shirt is £25 but is also available in packs of threefor £45 so if you can find two other gents the same size as you each shirt would be a bargain £15!

Women

All black as usual and with your coloured scarf rather than your blue scarf. New members will be able to buy a scarf for £5.

Brahms German Requiem

In the new year we will be rehearsing Brahms   ‘German Requiem’ (sung in English), so if you are unfamiliar with this superb music, please listen to it a few times in the next few months.  There are many superb orchestral recordings in German from which to take your pick.  However, the one below is to a recording in English with piano accompaniment.  The simplicity of the arrangement makes it very useful for personal practice. It’s also available on ITunes store (£6.99) and Spotify.