What a good time we had! Tonbridge Philharmonic Society and the Tonbridge Round Table again presented their Family Carols in Tonbridge School Chapel on 17 December. The Chapel housed not only the Philharmonic’s Choir, conductor Matthew Willis, with organist Chris Harris and guest trumpeter Andrew Quinn, but members of Tonbridge Grammar School’s Motet Choir with their conductor Adrian Pitts and keyboard accompanist. Also present as readers of the lessons were our MP, Tom Tugendhat, and Mark Rhodes, Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling; other readers were, for the visit of the Wise Men, three beautifully clear junior school pupils, the senior members of each organisation involved, and, finally Robin Morrish, President of Tonbridge Philharmonic Society, with the noble message of St.John recited by heart.
The rest of us came to fill every part of the Chapel, all ages from the young to the rather older. Moved by the intensity of the whole event, we certainly sang!
The organisation of the whole, and the introduction of the guests, was guided by the musical judgement of Matthew Willis, in his red waistcoat. In a practical welcome, he sang us into the afternoon from O come all ye faithful . This great Chapel lends itself to his flexible and thoughtful approach. We had, from the Philharmonic Choir (joined by some of their Orchestra colleagues for the occasion) and the Motet Choir, examples of traditional and new carols, and of ingenious new settings of favourites, enhanced by the short organ and trumpet interlude. Andrew Quinn played Hear, King of Angels (arranged by Layton James) from the Christmas Oratorio by J S Bach, accompanied by the redoubtable Chris Harris, who played us out at the end with
Où s’en vont, ces gais bergers?, a noel with variations by the French Baroque composer Jean-François Dandrieu. The Motet Choir gave us a dramatic performance of items with decreasing numbers of singers, sometimes unaccompanied and without conductor – a virtuoso contribution.
How soon it was over! We hoped, as we enjoyed our refreshments and talked to both audience and performers, that the chosen charities The Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust and The Scott’s Project Trust will benefit hugely from our contributions.
19 December 2016