Chichester: a sparkling programme with every Christmas favourite

Review: Christmas Concerts, until December 11, Chichester Festival Theatre

The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Collingwood
The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Collingwood

Cast aside all the gloom of further threatened lockdowns - Christmas has arrived in Chichester and it has never looked or sounded more splendid.

The Christmas Concerts are back - with a bang (and that's just the drums!)

The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Collingwood start proceedings with the National Anthem.

As one we stand, with more than half a tear in the eye. Throughout all the vicissitudes of the past two years our Queen has been our one constant - and in her recent health struggles has never deserved more our thanks and gratitude.

Then it's on to a sparkling programme - with every Christmas favourite beautifully wrapped in an assortment of arrangements from minor keys to a piece which is rightly labelled 100 per cent perfect.

Chichester Cathedral Choir and their barbershop repertory Close Company add a striking contrast to the beat of the brass; while that red-nose reindeer Rudolph happily canters through a Silent Night.

The audience, of course, is obliged to join in with a medley of verses from the Festive songbook.

There's also a chance to sing Rule Britannia - and even the tease that we might be expected to give a rendition of Land of Hope and Glory, before the music swerves to something more seasonal.

This is Christmas as it should be. A chance to celebrate the birth of Christ, to rejoice in family and friends, and to be proud to be British. And what better band than the Royal Marines under Captain Samuel Hairsine and Bandmaster WO2 Hannah Trudgeon to lead us through such joy.

Gary Shipton