With their concert on Saturday, December 3 the Waverley Singers once again got the Christmas season off to a bright and uplifting start. Awake, Arise! Music for Advent and Christmas, in a packed St Lawrence’s Church in Alton, was a happy mixture of music ancient and modern.

Each half began with pieces by JS Bach.  His wonderful music is notoriously challenging for singers, but under Richard Pearce’s inspiring conducting the Waverleys rose to the occasion.  They first sang two chorales from Wachet Auf and, in between, Philip Scriven continued to show his extraordinary ability in an organ solo from the Cantata.  The choir began the second half with Fallt mit Danken from the Christmas Oratorio, a particularly fitting piece.

The guest-soprano, Nina Bennet, accompanied by Richard Pearce on the piano, sang a range of music in a voice that is clear but warm, even at the highest notes.  Starting with Verdi’s Tacea la Notte and Lehar’s On my Lips, she returned with Wagner’s Der Engel, Gershwin’s A Foggy Day, and finally Take Me in a Taxi, Joe!  She sang flawlessly in each genre, which is a rare ability.

The programme was completed with Stanford’s Magnificat in G, Sandström’s arrangement of a Praetorius carol, Hadley’s setting of I Sing of a Maiden and two recent pieces by McDowell, including her settings of carols in English, Latin, French and German.  The audience was also invited to join in the singing of two carols – in English.

Waverley Singers produce consistently interesting concert performances of high quality, in a relaxed atmosphere.  We are very lucky to have such talent performing regularly across our region, and I would encourage anyone to check their website for future events.  The choir also raises funds for local charities: this time the collection was for the youth charity, The King’s Arms in Alton, and raised a wonderful £738.26!

The choir’s next concert is the Brahms Requiem on March 25 in Aldershot, preceded by a choral workshop open to all singers on January 14; details on waverleysingers.com

Review by Lars Mosesson