A great crowd enjoyed the Peterborough Singers’ Yuletide Cheer concert this year, the Singers’ first concert of the season and one that has become a family tradition for many in the community. It was particularly gratifying to see the number of young children in attendance this year, listening attentively or playing quietly in the aisles as their older siblings and parents and grandparents delighted in the traditional carols and holiday songs, as well as in the new seasonal music on offer.
The audience was in very fine voice, too, especially in the first sing-along carol (pictured below). One attendee particularly enjoyed this part of the concert: “Brass, organ, and choir, a totally wonderful combination for Christmas music, especially coming together for the singing of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful.'”
Our varied directors were in good form as well, Mary Taves, David Geene, Ben Keith, and Pamela Birrell all took a turn conducting, in part because Artistic Director Syd Birrell was doing double duty this concert as the choir’s organist. The choir clearly benefitted from the diverse conducting styles, rising to the occasion and doing its best to please each new “owner” of the baton. “Thanks to all the hard work of our magical conductors!” commented one chorister. For another choir member, the most memorable moment was not “messing up” in the fast-paced “In Dulci Jubilo,” conducted by Mary Taves, to have the choir catch its breath at the end of the piece and see that “Mary was smiling.” Others called singing “Mary Did You Know,” under the direction of Pamela Birrell, “a sacred experience.”
Still, the real joy was singing to and with the Peterborough community, accompanied by the fabulous musicians of the Venabrass and by Syd Birrell (organ), Stan Ewing (percussion), and talented Peterborough Singers, including Dave Tomlinson (percussion), Gael Morrison (pianist), and Anne Normand (piano).
Soloists Max DeBues, Madeleine McGregor, Alina Newnham, Rebecca von Criegern, and Patrick Jang were also outstanding. Two of these soloists were singing for their first time in a Peterborough Singers’ concert.
The most hearty thanks, however, should go to Syd Birrell, who created the sense of closeness and community amongst the Singers and between the choir and its audience. Here is how one PS member put it. “What a thrill to be tucked in to such a responsive audience, primed by you suggesting that we serve them some sweetness in troubling times. Your direction made it easy to remember to connect with the audience.”