Eastbourne’s joyous Christmas concert

Christmas gala concert at St Saviour's church in Eastbourne 2015
Christmas gala concert at St Saviour's church in Eastbourne 2015

A feel-good Christmas Gala concert will be performed - with just three sleeps left until Christmas Day - at St Saviour’s church in South Street.

This event, billed as Eastbourne’s “most joyous Christmas Concert” will be held on December 22 at 7.30pm.

Eleven years ago a local tradition began when Paul Collins (then organist and choirmaster at St Andrew URC) had the dream of creating a new Christmas Gala concert for the town. Vital ingredients would be a brilliant band, a great choir, an enthusiastic organist, some top soloists, a conductor to keep it all together, and some talented readers, along with a huge audience ready to join in and sing their favourite Christmas Carols with “great gusto.”

In 2004 the first concert took place at St Andrew’s in Blackwater Road, with the Eastbourne Silver Band, The St Andrews Church Choir with invited singers to augment the sound, Paul Collins at the organ, Shirley Barrell (musical director of Eastbourne’s Renaissance Singers) conducting the choir, and David Dimbleby with some great seasonal readings.

It was a roaring success and the mulled wine and mince pies provided for all apparently went down well too.

Shirely explained; “Here we now are in 2015 and the annual Christmas Gala concert has gone from strength to strength.

Each year audiences have grown as the word has spread about the Christmas cheer that it brings.

Indeed for many people it now marks the real beginning of their Christmas Celebrations.

“The regular band, who have played with us for some years now are the prizewinning ‘Lewes, Glynde and Beddingham Brass’ led by Ian Stewart. They are a truly talented group of musicians who really raise the roof.

Come early and you will not only be able to choose the best seats, but have the privilege of hearing the band play for 15 minutes before the concert begins. If you enjoy the sound of a brass band at Christmas, you really must hear this ensemble.

The quality of the soloists too, will leave you longing for more.

Two of our great friends Lynn Weaver (soprano) and Stephen Rooke (tenor) will be performing glorious solos and joining with the choir for a spine-tingling version of ‘O Holy Night’.”

The choir of 50 invited voices under the direction of Shirley, is “in better voice than ever.” A beautifully balanced choir of experienced choral singers, she said: “They make a wonderfully joyous sound in the magnificent acoustic of St Saviours as they sing Christmas favourites both old and new. You’ll probably spot one or two local soloists in the choir too!

“Our guest reader this year is Carol Mounter who guarantees to delight us with her seasonal offerings. A well respected singing teacher in the town, Carol has recently branched out into directing and was very involved with the WW1 commemoration show for the Underground Theatre.

And the organist? Paul Collins of course. Paul is now organist and choirmaster at St Saviours Church, so who better to play than the man who knows and understands the workings of this magnificent organ more intimately than anyone else.”

Entry cost £8 on the door (£7 in advance cobboldcollins@aol.com – under 12s free) and includes mulled wine and mince pies.