This was the second time I’ve been to the early evening pre-Christmas event featuring the Hythe Salvation Army band and choir and the relatively small Ashford Sinfonia orchestra.
The evening was ably hosted by Richard Carroll, the Army’s bandmaster and paterfamilias of the many talented musicians in his family. He is also a fine spinner of groan-inducing jokes. The programme is a nice mixture of short pieces of music played and/or sung by one or more of the onstage groups and familiar Christmas carols sung with gusto by the whole audience as well as all the performers.
Most of the choral items were well accompanied by Wesley Carroll on electric piano or conducted by him facing the players and singers. Wesley was also the musician who arranged a Christmas songs medley for choir and orchestra which, in addition, played a medley from the popular Disney film Frozen. The Sinfonia tackled two popular numbers, perhaps unwisely, from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker too.
It was pleasing this year to see and hear more strings in the Ashford group than last year, although they will always have to struggle to be heard when playing with the Army’s heavy brass.
It’s not quite a concert, neither is it quite a party, but it’s got what it takes to sell out weeks in advance every year. Long may it do so.