Thursday, June 20

Christmas Music by Candlelight – The Shows Must Go On

I love a good carol concert. I’m no expert (or singer), but I love the songs and the feeling of Christmas.

Online carol singing though, how’s that going to work?

Well, it does, and it does it exceedingly well.

Through the flickering candlelight at St Paul’s Church, Birmingham, conductor Jeffrey Skidmore takes Ex Cathedra through a range of carols old and new bringing joyous melodies and harmony to your home.

I was astonished how in love with this show I became. And maybe it’s the power of the music and the beauty of the voices, but I found this performance a time to reflect. A time to step back and enjoy the wonder of the world.

Visually, I felt I was there. The candlelight is so atmospheric you feel yourself drawn into the dancing lights reflecting off the church windows.

Musically, I’m hooked. I watched this show via YouTube on my television, but afterwards looked it up on my laptop. Here I could source and play my favourite songs.

‘Videte Miraculum’, a song not familiar to me, has been on repeat ever since. Ex Cathedra perform it like an opera. It is truly spine-tingling. ‘Torches’ was reminiscent of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ with melodramatic organ action accompanied with a stunning candlelit procession. ‘Stars’ was also a particularly stellar (!) recital. Alongside the high-pitched hum of the wine glasses being stroked, the deep vocals added a richness which was both joyous and ethereal. ‘With a merry ding dong’ and ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ are fabulous upbeat, pop-style versions which will have you tapping your toes and singing along.

But I think we all have a particular carol which can overwhelm us with emotion. For me, it was ‘In the bleak midwinter’, which brought a tear to my eye, such was the power and beauty of the performance.

I never thought I was such a big carol singer fan. And I never thought I would be watching carol singing online. But Ex Cathedra have changed that. I am now totally a convert. And I’d love to see them upload their song list to Spotify. I’d totally listen to this all year round, not just for Christmas.

If I was forced to say anything negative, it would be to cut down some of the in-show YouTube ads which break the spell. Other than that, I’ve already shared this show link with all of my friends urging them to watch this magical performance. Hang some tinsel around your screen, light a candle and you’ll be there.

Christmas Music by Candlelight is available via The Shows Must Go On YouTube page until New Years Eve.

Reviewer: Samantha Collett

Reviewed: 9th December 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★