Christmas with the Chichester Chorale

Arthur Robson
Arthur Robson

The Chichester Chorale offers its Christmas concert in St George’s, Whyke in Cleveland Road, Chichester on December 16 at 7.30pm.

It finds the choir in good health under the leadership of musical director and founder Arthur Robson – though as Arthur says, in the New Year, they will be looking for a few more sopranos.

First, the Christmas concert, though...

“We have got part one of The Messiah, the Christmas part with some student soloists from the university. The organist Martyn Noble is coming down from London. And we have also got Holst’s Christmas Day, a medley of old Christmas tunes.

“And then we have got all the usual Christmas carols and favourite Christmas songs. We have got some of the silly songs like I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus and Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer. And also some carols like O Come, All Ye Faithful; Hark The Herald; and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

“I usually start thinking about the Christmas concert in the summer, trying to plan ahead. We like to have a fairly-chunky piece in the first part, and so this time we have got The Messiah, and then I like the programme to get lighter as the evening goes on.

“With The Messiah, the choruses are quite well known. They have got to be fairly tightly done by the choir. Most people, even if they have not sung them, will have heard them. You have got the lovely tenor aria and the lovely Rejoice, Rejoice from the soprano. It tells the Christmas story in a fairly-conventional way with Biblical text.

“The Holst is one piece, but a medley of ancient Christmas carols, done in a fairly-mystical way, in a way that the arrangement really works for the voices. It’s totally chorus with some solos sprinkled amongst the lines.”

As for the choir, Arthur is delighted to say that it goes from strength to strength.

“We will be auditioning for some sopranos in January. We are looking for four or five perhaps. We are quite well off for tenors, which is the usual cry. We need sopranos. I think as people get older, they don’t feel they can sing soprano, and we have also lost one or two. I can always top up with students from the university, but I really want to stay in the community with this.

“I think this is now the Chorale’s 16th year. It becomes rather difficult to find fresh things and to keep things alive, but there is always new music that people want to tackle. It does become a challenge finding new repertoire that meets the demands of stretching people enough while not being too difficult that it puts them off, but I think we generally manage to do that.”

Tickets for the Christmas concert are available on the door, from choir members, in advance from the church and also on 01243 823481.