The Gala Concert at the Maltings in Farnham is a memorable occasion each Christmas that brings together the girls’ choir, the boys’ choir and the main youth choir. When the three join forces, for the first few moments the youngest singers at the front are often visibly startled by the wall of sound behind them! The stage is always brilliantly lit, and thanks to the stage decorations the effect is very festive – although unknown to the audience, the heat from the lights presents a challenge for the singers and there tends to be a casualty or two (expertly gathered up and spirited away by volunteer first-aiders). Things like this demand professionalism from the choirs and they always cope extremely well. Jo Tomlinson, Jo McNally and Patrick Barrett led the singers through a varied programme that showed their range, supported throughout by accompanist Matthew Rickard.
Two soloists opened the concert from the auditorium, getting proceedings off to a traditional, spell-binding start with the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City. When the audience rose to join in with the rest of the carol, the gentleman sitting next to me had to be coaxed to his feet – ‘do I seriously have to sing?!’ – but as the concert went on he found his confidence and relaxed into his new performing role. By the time Jingle Bells came around at the close and everyone was asked to shake their keys in time to the music, he was reluctant to sit down again. His party had come to the concert out of curiosity to see what Farnham Youth Choir was like. His verdict? ‘I think they must do a serious amount of work to achieve all this’, he said.
Review by Helen Cole