Anyone in the large audience filling All Saints Church to capacity on Saturday must have felt that Christmas had really come as soon as they entered the beautifully decorated building, and that feeling only grew stronger as the choir and all their guests performed with heart and soul and voice music full of warmth and joy.

This programme banished all thoughts of shopping malls and internet glitches, and reminded us all of the glory and variety of Christmas music. The concert began without any introduction as the sweet and delicate sounds of the handbells filled the church and hushed us to silence.  The expertise of the Broxbourne Handbell Ringers is remarkable and the musicality of their performance was a revelation of the range of this instrument, so appropriate at this time of year.

The Choral Society was also joined for this evening by the Duncombe School Choir under their conductor, Vanessa Welch.  They gave an exciting performance of carols which were new to most of us, and which they obviously enjoyed.  It was encouraging to see enough boys to perform the story of “King Herod” without the girls and with great enthusiasm.  Keep singing, boys, don’t give up, we need you.  The whole choir’s contribution was as refreshing as a fizzy drink after a mince pie, and we loved them.       

Hertford Choral Society, the foundation of the evening, was on absolutely top form.  Their conductor, Derek Harrison, had only a short  rehearsal  time  and had chosen their items wisely, with some old favourites such as  ”Ding Dong! Merrily on high” and others unfamiliar like the very unexpected “Ragtime Carol”, delivered with much vigour.  But old or new each piece had been carefully prepared and was impeccably delivered, with pianissimos at times which were breathtaking.  The tenors and basses are particularly strong at the moment, and are going to sound wonderful singing  Brahms in the spring (adver!).

There were also invaluable contributions from the organist, Nick Robinson, the flautist, Sally Quantrill, and the indispensable compere, Roger Mullis.  Over £1,000 was collected for charity, and altogether we enjoyed an evening in the true spirit of Christmas.

Susan Hitch