Sunday, 11 December 2016

Review - Christmas Praise 2017

It's rare to review a church-based Christmas event, but here goes:

Christmas Praise comes out of a musical tradition at All Souls Church, London, the church next to BBC, dating from the 1970s involving top quality music arranging and professional and amateur Christian musicians. This has developed into Prom Praise and The Schools Prom which both annually fill the Albert Hall - and has branched out into many concerts around the country and abroad.

All Souls, Langham Place, a John Nash 'Waterloo' church, is a large space for performance. It was decked like a stage with a huge Christmas tree and footlights, proving to be a perfect setting, if slightly small, for the full sound of the All Souls Orchestra. This was the star of the evening, led by Caron Cavalier, producing a Hollywood-Rogers and Hammerstein type sound for a variety of carols, musical numbers and also ably playing The Scherzo from Symphony in C by Bizet.

West End Singers
Conducted by the musical director at All Souls, and a BBC 'Songs of Praise' conductor, arranger Noel Treddinick, it went for a high energy sound, to start Christmas with a 'cracker'. It succeeded admirably, with the help of a lot of talented professional singers, most notably Philip Griffiths, long standing member of the cast of 'Phantom of the Opera' plus a superb rendition by Constantine Andronikou of Mariah Carey and Walter Aganasieff's Song Jesus Born on this Day.  We heard how backstage at many West End theatres, Bible study and prayer groups operate among performers. Recognising that music is a gift from God, the performers were still aiming at something else - to get unfamiliar ears to hear the real message of Christmas  - illustrated this time, by a black bin liner of dirty washing!

The Gift of Christmas
An evangelist told how the gift of Christmas is actually 'Jesus,'a two thousand year old Jew', who gets very relevant once one realises:
  • that through giving ourselves to Him in faith, one hands Him one's 'black bin liner' of dirty washing (self and sin) and one's inner demons (passions) - which kills Him on the Cross - while walking away 'blame-free' - with His ticket of a Purity straight into Heaven.  Sounds too good to the true? That's the Good News (Gospel), otherwise known as God's wonderful 'grace'.
Their Gift of Time and Skill
These musicians gave up part of their demanding Advent schedule to perform, no doubt for nothing, if amateur, seeking to serve the Gospel message through music.

We walked out 'on air' among the lost sheep of Oxford Street who are seeking a gift of no value, without the power to change, reshape and heal lives.  Many of them would have been inspired and amazed by the message of 'Christmas Praise' - if someone had thought of inviting them.

Further information:
  • 'Christmas Praise' will be broadcast on Premier Radio on Christmas Day at 3pm and on Boxing Day 10pm
  • All Souls is offering some of their stock of musical arrangements including for worship groups, orchestra and solo piano and instruments
  • The next Prom Praise is the Saturday after Easter 2017 in the Royal Albert Hall
  • Prom Praise for Schools if on 21 March 2017 in the Royal Albert Halòl
  • Noel Tredinnick broadcasts on Sunday mornings on Premier Radio at 7am in a programme called "All Souls in Praise" which has many recordings of the All Souls Orchestra.

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