City Hall hosts popular festive events

The Black Dyke Band  in rehearsals.
The Black Dyke Band in rehearsals.

SHEFFIELD’S two most popular events at this time of the year, the Philharmonic Christmas Concert and Keith Roe’s Christmas Musical Cavalcade, a rather special one this year, take place at the City Hall this weekend.

The Sheffield Philharmonic concert is on Saturday when the chorus are again joined by probably the most famous brass band in the world, the Black Dyke (Mills) Band.

Proceedings begin this year with an a cappella rendering of Silent Night from the chorus and end, as they invariably do, with everyone present, including the audience, proclaiming Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

In between, the chorus have another unaccompanied item, Grainger’s Sussex Mummers Carol, and with organ (Neil Taylor) give voice to I Saw Three Ships, The Word Made Flesh (Wilby), Sir Christemas (Matthias), I Heard Bells (Austin) and two John Rutter pieces, Jesus Child and In Dulci Jubilo.

With the band there is also offer Goff Richards’ Merry Little Christmas and Michael Perry’s Calypso Carol.

Under their own steam, the band play Prokofiev’s Midnight Sleighride, Santa Claustrophobia, In the Bleak Midwinter with leading tenor horn player Sheona White, and Riverdance.

Three more items involving everyone are Christians Awake, God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen and The First Nowell, getting its first outing at the event since 2001.

Conductors are the respective music directors of the Philharmonic Chorus and Black Dyke Band, Darius Battiwalla and Nicholas Childs, and the presenter this year is BBC Look North presenter Harry Gration.

Sheffield Oratorio Chorus travel to Ecclesfield Parish Church again next Thursday (December 15) to present their annual Carol Concert, although it’s not as far as Wentworth, where Escafeld Chorale go yet again this Saturday to offer theirs.

It is, however, repeated as usual at All Saints Church at Millhouses next Wednesday and features a soloist, soprano Rosie Williamson, a graduate with first-class honours from Sheffield University in 2009 whose name is cropping up regularly these days.

She is Escafeld’s associate soloist, 2011-12, and her most recent activity includes the First Boy in Sheffield City Opera’s Magic Flute as well as the unseen soloist in Jonathan Willcock’s Lux Perpetua.

The latter was with the Oratorio Chorus, who will hoping for better weather than last year when they went to Ecclesfield for the first time.

Then as next Thursday, proceeds from the concert, a generous affair of seven congregational carols and 14 from the choir, will be in support of the Peal Appeal to refurbish and augment the church’s bells.