The following review of the concert on Saturday 6th December 2014 was prepared by Keith Nixon for publication in the Sunderland Echo.
“A standing ovation at the end of the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society’s latest concert must have been music to the ears of their gifted conductor, David Murray. Their latest success showed the choir at its most versatile and proved that they can master whatever challenge their inspiring director throws at them.
Messiah meets the Miser was the theme of the evening with a beloved Christmas piece of the classical repertoire paired with a musical based on a classic Christmas novel. This was an unusual combination but the contrast worked a treat.
The first half was devoted to the Christmas music from Handel’s Messiah (plus the Hallelujah Chorus). The soloists (Ana Fernandez Guerra, Charlotte Heslop, Simon Lee and Richard Gooding) were excellent. They responded to the text and score with just the right amount of devotion and fervour. The choir was in terrific form with ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ sung with as much exultation as I have ever heard it.
The musical ‘A Christmas Carol’, based on Dickens’ novella, was written in 1979 by David Murray with words by Tony Runham. It was originally designed to be performed by schoolchildren but the writers extended the piece last year to make it into a much bigger work. With the choir donning Victorian costume, it gave the members an opportunity to show off not only their singing prowess but their acting and dancing skills too. They seemed to love every minute of it.
With catchy tunes such as ‘Do You Remember?’ and ‘Change My Ways’ interspersed with traditional carols, Murray’s musical wowed the audience. Semi-staged by Miranda Wright, the performers used the whole space of the minster to retell brilliantly the story of Scrooge’s transition from penny-pincher to philanthropist. The Bishopwearmouth Young Singers were excellent throughout, clearly enjoying the occasion as much as the adults. Amongst many of the society’s successes were Neil Pont’s splendid narration, Chris Moore’s snarling Scrooge, Martin Richards’ scary Marley and Ian Watson’s sensational dancing.
At the end, the performers threw ‘snowballs’ at the audience, who responded with thunderous applause before going off into the December night, full of true Christmas spirit.”