Seasonal highlight

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus/ Black Dyke Band, Sheffield City Hall

Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 11:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 11:33 am

We are spoilt for choice with festive carol concerts, but this mix of the traditional and the less familiar, delivered by a combination of brass, voices and a professional presenter, is the seasonal highlight.

It has become a Sheffield tradition in its own right now  and,   apart from the  consistently high standards of their music-making, the joy is to discover what new ingredients they stir into the mix.

And what better than a previously unknown carol by almost-forgotten Sheffield composer and brass player Wilfred Heaton, born 100 years ago this month? The piece - Balulalow - is unlikely to take a regular place among the old chestnuts but is a welcome addition to the city's unrivalled range of indigenous Christmas music.

But the choir's outstanding contribution was the wordless and unaccompanied Sussex Mummers Carol in which, crisply drilled as ever by Darius Battiwalla, they came into their own.

The band matched them with a deliciously jazzy arrangement of Prokofiev's Midnight Sleigh Ride. 

Under conductor Nicholas Childs they have consistently been among the best bands in the land and they signed off with their seasonal party piece, an instrumental arrangement of Little Drummer Boy.

The final ingredient in the mix is a bit of poetry, and here affable presenter Petroc Trelawny made his mark with an atmospheric reading of WH Auden's Night Mail, reminding us that Christmas is the only time most of us still find a use for the postal service. 

      Philip Andrews