Touch of the Unexpected Allows Carol Concert to Soar to New Heights

Richard Holledge reviews Hogarth Singers' latest concert


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The Hogarth Singers can be trusted to do the unexpected. At their annual carol concert on December 17 at St Michaels and All Angels, Chiswick, they produced a happy mix of the traditional and the unusual.

Of course, the essential Christmas favourites were there for the audience to join in with - Once in Royal David’s City, Oh Come all ye Faithful, Good King Wenceslas - but to kick off with Xicocho, a sweetly evocative song written in an ancient Mexican language by a Spanish priest to attract his local Indian congregation, was a surprise – but one that set the tone for the evening.

So too was Riu Riu Chiu, a 16th century poetic and musical form from the Iberian Peninsular. Riu riu chiu is meant to represent the sound of nightingales and its verses had the bass soloists at full stretch with its tongue-twisting Spanish.
Under the musical directorship of Jonathan Wikeley the choir never shirks a challenge. The Corpus Christi Carol, Benjamin Britten’s deceptively complex re-working of an early-sixteenth century piece, was sensitively sung and the Badger Song written by Wikeley himself was a delight. There was even something of a world premier with a new piece, Then Let Us Adore Him, by rising talent Thomas Hewitt-Jones.

There were two stand-out performances – one by the children of Belmont School who sang with enchanting musicality and the other by the Hogarth choir tenor Cyril Michelet who sang Cantique de Noel, a 19th century French carol, written by wine merchant and poet Adolphe Adam, with power and tenderness. He brought the house down.

The next concert will be Haydn’s masterpiece - The Creation. Rehearsals start on January 9 at the Arts Ed School near Turnham Green tube. New members are welcome to come along – particularly tenors and basses. The concert is on March 17. See

Richard Holledge

December 23, 2011

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