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Halle's Christmas Cracker

Halle at Christmas. Photo courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre.

The Hallé Orchestra, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry. 13 December 2023 (one night only)

Review by Ann Cee

Seasonal cheer was in abundance at last night’s Christmas concert at Warwick Arts Centre.  The Hallé orchestra arrived with santa hats and a huge array of instruments and musicians to give us a wonderfully mixed programme of festive music and song.  Strings, wind, brass and an incredible range of percussion filled the stage and I knew we were in for a good night.

Led by Associate Conductor Stephen Bell, the evening unfolded piece by magical piece starting with Adam Saunders’ ‘Journey to Lapland’ which evoked the reindeer sleighs and cheeky elves of the winter lands of Scandinavia.  It was a light and lovely introduction.

This was followed by some Handel and Mozart, sung by guest baritone Rodney Earl Clarke. Clarke’s smooth voice provided time for some melancholic reflections of the season before raising the mood with lilting tunes, followed by some big carols and songs from film, most notably Willy Wonka’s ‘Pure Imagination’.  I confess that ‘O Holy Night’ brought a tear to my eye and the audience loved ‘Stars’ from Les Mis.

There was a multitude of Snowmen references in the selection and many types of snow from dancing snowflakes to heavy blizzards and shifting drifts but we were safely ensconced indoors by the fire, so all was well.  The serenade from Greenville’s ‘The Snowman’ was beautifully played by the lead violinist and extracts from Prokofiev’s Cinderella gave the French horns their time to shine magnificently as well as giving me sweet memories of seeing the ballet in the past.  The triangle sent tingles up my arms every time it sang out and the wind machine solo provided an amusing novelty.

The concert ended with a fun singalong of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’, aided and abetted by Bell and Clarke, leaving everyone with a warm Christmassy glow.  We had dined well on a seamless, smorgasbord of seasonal dreams, fancies and hopes.  Wonderful!

The Hallé Orchestra will be back at Warwick Arts Centre in May 2024 when the programme will include work by Brahms and the Elgar’s Variations in celebration of the tenure of Sir Mark Elder as Music Director.  A pre show talk will also be offered.

See Warwick Arts Centre for tickets for the Hallé’s next visit:


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