Christmas Concert | Chichester Festival Theatre | Review

Christmas Concert
Chichester Festival Theatre

6th -11th December 2022

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood

Ah! There’s nothing to compare with a rousing Christmas Concert; plenty of shiny brass instruments, a Cathedral choir, a charismatic and entertaining Conductor and Bandmaster and wonderful musicians adorned with tinsel and Santa hats – and in one case a toy donkey …

You know that Christmas is arriving very soon when you spend an evening listening to a fabulous programme of seasonal songs and instrumental music, traditional and not-so-traditional, delivered in style by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Collingwood. Sitting in the welcome warmth of the Chichester Festival Theatre soaking up the festive atmosphere, gorgeously complemented by two enormous sparkly Christmas trees on stage with a starry, snowy backdrop between them was like being wrapped in a furry blanket in front of a bright fire, sipping from a large mug of hot chocolate – or mulled wine, whichever brings you the most cheer!

On opening night the house was practically full, everyone looking forward to this wonderful occasion, so much missed last year. Settle back in your seats and prepare to treat your eyes and ears to a couple of hours of pure Christmas joy. Captain Samuel Hairsine, conducting, expressed his unconcealed delight at being back with the band to entertain us all after two years, and the audience was clearly just as delighted. From the start we were encouraged not just to listen, but to join in at regular intervals. Song sheets were provided for the ‘Sing-alongs’ and sing along we all did!

During the first half we were treated to no fewer than 12 pieces of music – commencing with ‘Deck the Halls’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy’ – both from the band and subsequently the male Cathedral Choir, who delivered 4 beautiful choral harmonies including a French melody and a Polish carol. After the interval the adults from the Choir returned as ‘Close Company’, a group in its own right, giving us such delights as (my personal favourite) ‘Gaudete’ followed by that lovely modern classic ‘The Christmas Song’ (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire). Are you feeling the warmth?!

Bandmaster WO2 Hannah Trudgeon took over for the opening of the second half of a further 10 pieces of music, obviously just as happy to be back amongst us as everyone else. The band reappeared wearing various bits of festive apparel, Santa hats on instruments as well as heads, including the donkey…. I loved the humour from the two conductors and the happy faces of the band members whilst delivering such an amazing programme, expertly and thoughtfully put together. Listening to the final anthemic pieces featuring ‘Rule Britannia’ (sing-along) and the Regimental March, I almost felt as if I were at the Last Night of the Proms, such was the joyous enthusiasm in the auditorium.

No-one really wanted this wondrous festive evening to end, it was just what we all needed.

Christmas-is-a-coming. Sublime!

Approx 2 hours, plus 20 minute interval


Reviewer: Gill Ranson