Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
Phil Hopkins
Arts & Travel Editor
8:00 PM 15th December 2019

BFCS – The Perfect Brexit Tonic

“I don’t care whether he’s nice or not, he’s a Brexiteer and he’s not coming into our house this Christmas.”

The lady in front of me was adamant but, within an hour, the melodic tones of the city’s largest and longest running choir – Bradford Festival Choral Society - had soothed her frazzled nerves and marital peace had, once more, returned to the Piece Hall at Bradford Grammar!

Christmas Old and New was this year’s festive offering from the BFCS, billed as ‘a classical choir with community spirit since 1856’.

However, the only spirit in sight – other than at the interval bar – was in the hearts of the lusty singers and the baton of head boy, Thomas Leech, who conducts with the enthusiasm of a lush downing a bottle of sherry.

This is always a great evening; not too long and not too short.

I have now been several times and am always enthused to hear something completely new (to me), whilst also being able to look forward to the familiar: O Come All Ye Faithful, God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and other Christmas standards.

Even better, the lad with the baton, invariably turns and conducts the unrehearsed mob with the same enthusiasm reserved for the ‘worthy ones’ who have spent weeks rehearsing!

This is a great choir, made all the better, this time, with accompaniment from the wonderful Rothwell Temperance Band, who have deservedly won so many top awards in the world of brass.

Mark Freeh’s arrangement of Oakley Haldeman’s Here Comes Santa Claus, and their second half offering, I Wanna Be Like You – remember Jungle Book? – were light-hearted, joyful interludes which the audience loved.

Unperturbed by the austere nature of Hildegard of Bingen’s O Frondens Virga, the choir donned their traditional head gear – Rudolph antlers – to plough their way through this more challenging offering.

Mince pies at the interval, booze, Christmas cake and a raffle that would put Ladbrokes to shame. Who could ask for more? A great evening of musical fun with a touch of the highbrow, lots of carols and enough musicality to warm anyone’s heart…….or was it the pint of mulled wine I had? Not sure.

Christmas Old And New: BFCS
Piece Hall, Bradford Grammar School