Ashford Sinfonia went on tour again on 10 December – all the way to Folkestone for our annual concert in collaboration with Hythe and New Romney Salvation Army.
The weather was atrocious and the Towers Theatre was a bit chilly (until our music warmed it up) but the house was almost full and the atmosphere cheerfully Christmassy.
All the usual components were in place – Richard Carroll’s panto/cracker jokes, which Wesley, our talented music director Wesley Carroll has borne (sorry, Richard!) all his life, lots of audience participation and Ding Dong Merrily on High with swaying mini lights in the dark.
There were two memorable high spots this year. First an eight year old audience volunteer named Meredith stood at the front and sung two verses of Away in a Manger solo. She did it with a level of poise, confidence and aplomb which astonished and delighted everyone present.
Second was a show stopper from our own, wonderfully talented Wesley Carroll. A family emergency meant that the usual soloist had cancelled at the last minute leaving a vacant slot. Wes filled it admirably by taking the titles of Christmas songs from the audience and then weaving them into an improvised medley. It was clever, tuneful and apparently effortless. Bravo Wes!
Between these unexpected delights was some jolly playing from the band including a lovely setting of In The Bleak Mid Winter developed by the band with Wes on euphonium. The Shepway Community Choir sang well too especially in the very attractive Halleluia with solo by Grace Carroll.
And, as well as helping to accompany some of the carols and a medley we played Finlandia by Sibelius. We’re been practising it all term and the hard work seemed to pay off. The opening brass chords which can easily go wrong, and often did in rehearsal, were strong and incisive and we all managed to pack in plenty of atmospheric drama with all those rapid string bits, woodwind statements and lots of louds and softs. “Good, Well done all of you” said Wes to us beneath the applause at the end and I reckon we deserved it.
So thanks to all who made this event work so well, especially Callum and Beri, the spiritual leaders of Hythe and New Romney Salvation Army who shared their unpushy but passionate Christmas message with us.
Please may we come again next year?