A rare chance to hear a special performance from teh Stranraer Ladies’ Choir is coming this way.
The cold and treacherous waters of the North Atlantic in March 1942 were the birth place of what was to become Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols”. It was on a voyage back to England that Britten, perhaps to pass the time, perhaps to take his mind off the inherent dangers of the voyage, started to set poems from “The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems”, a book of mediaeval poems that he had picked up during a stop at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The text is mainly in middle English, unified into one piece by the addition of a setting of a Gregorian chant and a harp solo. The finished work was set for treble voices and harp, and received its first performance by the women’s Fleet Street Choir at Norwich Castle in December the same year.
This year, audiences in Stranraer have the opportunity to hear a repeat of that performance as the centrepiece of the Stranraer and District Ladies’ Choir’s Christmas Concert on December 6th in the lovely setting of the Trinity Church in Stranraer. They are joined by harpist Helen Thomson, who will also be performing a solo in the second half of the programme. Helen has performed with many of the major orchestras in UK and has appeared as soloist with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Bach Consort and The Academy Strings.
The programme is completed by a selection of 20th century carols and seasonal songs, including some old favourites and some that will be less familiar, and is rounded off with choruses from Handel’s Messiah.
Conducted by Nicki Junor and with piano accompaniment by Mitchell Shaw, this concert promises to provide a welcome respite from the frenzy of preparation (amusingly evoked in the Mistletoe Carol by Andrew Carter) and offers a magical start to the Christmas season.