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Our virtual musical Christmastide

My most memorable Christmas musical experience is undoubtedly my first Christmas in the choir of King’s College Cambridge. The excitement around the place at Christmas is palpable and recording the live radio 4 broadcast in that beautiful chapel on Christmas Eve was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

The music making during this Christmas period, however, has been very different. On 12th December I recorded Britten's A Ceremony of Carols and other Christmas music with Recordare, the Chamber Choir I co-founded. A week later we were due to livestream TPC's Christmas concert but unfortunately the concert was cancelled because of the high rate of Covid infections locally. Not wishing to leave friends and family of the choir without any Christmas musical cheer, James and I brought in a couple of friends to perform a small Christmas concert in support of our charities. It was amazing that our broadcast reached friends from the Symphonic Choir of Konstanz and others around the world, making it a truly international audience; something we could never have achieved in Kingston!

Our virtual musical Christmastide

What's so wonderful for a musician like me is that Christmastide is such a busy and rewarding time with so many live concerts and performances. Whether it's Christmas carols or a performance of the Messiah, it’s normally a real struggle trying to fit everything in. It creates a real sense of musical community when you complete a long term with exhilarating performances, followed by a beverage or two to celebrate.

This year's been very different but thankfully we've managed to re-create that sense of community in a different way through our foray into the virtual sphere. I don’t think I’d have thought that any of this would have been possible if you’d asked me last year. Obviously nothing will ever beat the feeling of a live audience and the rapport between the performers and the audience members, but the live-streaming rehearsals at St Margaret’s have been a real revelation.

Looking forward to 2021, I can’t wait for the day we can all be back in the same room making great music together – without having to freeze with all the doors open to ventilate the church!

Harry Bradford

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