Brighton Festival Chorus continues festive tradition

Brighton Festival Chorus maintains its happy festive tradition with its annual Christmas Concert at Brighton Dome on Sunday, December 11 at 4pm.
Brighton Festival Chorus  - James Morgan by James McDonaldBrighton Festival Chorus  - James Morgan by James McDonald
Brighton Festival Chorus - James Morgan by James McDonald

Conductor James Morgan brings together the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Brighton Festival Chorus, Brighton Festival Youth Choir and soloist Juliette Pochin. You can enjoy all your favourite carols and Christmas songs, hear your best or worst Christmas jokes read out, and you may even be asked to try your hand at conducting…

It comes with things pretty much back to normal in terms of presenting concerts but as James says in many ways, for the arts, the goal posts have moved.

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“I think there was some nervousness on the part of audiences getting back into the habit at first, again just because they had not gone to concerts for so long.

“It does kind of feel normal now but it has taken a while for us to get back to that point. It took us a while to get back up to speed because people had not sung for so long. But we've just done Carmina Burana at the Albert Hall and it was sold out.”

In terms of numbers in the chorus: “I think it took us properly up until September to get there. I think that was probably the first time that we were back to full strength and I do think that things feel different now, particularly for professional musicians. We don't ever take anything for granted but certainly the world seems quite precarious at the moment and there are cuts in arts funding going on left, right and centre which really does concentrate the mind on what you are doing. It does feel like the goal posts have moved through cuts in funding and audiences being a bit slow to come back. The whole thing is a much tougher sell but again that just means that we have got to make sure we are fantastic.

Now of course we have a different kind of crisis – the cost of living crisis. And James suspects that the impact of that will be that people will certainly be more choosy in terms of where they go and what they do.

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“But all that really means is that we have to make sure that we give people an absolutely fabulous concert.”

The Christmas concert is definitely an important part of the calendar: “It just feels like a real coming together in the city, and for a lot of people it marks the start of the Christmas season. It is actually quite hard to programme the concert. Everybody has got their favourite carols and at the same time no one really wants to change things. The difficulty is to keep everybody happy. You want to be offering something that is different to last year but you also want to be offering people what they want and so it's just really a question of balancing those two things.”

It's a tradition James himself started: “There was a lack. There was no real big Christmas orchestral concert in the city 20 years ago when we started doing this. It felt like the city needed something big to pull it together at Christmas but again it was quite difficult to get the balance right. It is a big classical concert but is not a classical concert. What we have to do is have a lovely mixture. We want to create a really good atmosphere.”