The heated pews at Carew Cheriton church were the warm, welcoming setting for the cheery and well-attended grand finale to a season of Christmas concerts with the Quaynotes Choir.

Rev’d Hannah Karpaty welcoming the Quaynotes to Carew Cheriton Church
Rev’d Hannah Karpaty welcoming the Quaynotes to Carew Cheriton Church (Observer pic)

After an introduction from Rev’d Hannah Karpaty, the choristers set the mood by leading the whole congregation in the carol Once in Royal David’s City.

Quaynotes Choir at Carew Cheriton Church, December 14
(Observer pic)

The Quaynotes’ first solo piece was Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride -  a piece which the audience were told was actually composed during a heatwave, but nevertheless conveys all the chills and thrills of winter snow. They followed this with Jingle Bell Rock, sleigh bells rung by MC Carol Cole.

Moods shifted through the concert, from the ultimate in council workers’ misheard lyric jokes: “God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing through this May”, to the sombre fears expressed in the Coventry Carol.

Other highlights of the performance included Away in a Manger, set to a minor-key tune from Normandy, and the traditional French A Maiden Most Gentle, with its cascading harmonies.

A section of the large audience at the Carew Cheriton Church Quaynotes Carol Concert
A section of the large audience at Carew Cheriton Church (Observer pic)

The first soloist, Lucy Evans, carried a tenor recorder to the stand, which she nervously declared she couldn’t play. However, the song that followed, John Dowland’s Come Again, was not only sung in a voice so pure that only comparisons with stars like Katherine Jenkins or Emma Kirkby would suffice, it also featured an exquisite recorder interlude.

Soloist Lucy Evans
Soloist Lucy Evans (Observer pic)

With a very tuneful, heartfelt and powerful rendition of The Birthday of a King, second soloist Christine Morgan conjured up the era of Musical Gospel Outreach as the Christian message of the season rang out loud and clear.

Quaynotes soloist Christine
Soloist Christine (Observer pic)

Choir director Mark Thompson was praised and thanked for his dedication in bringing out the best in the Quaynotes Choir. Watching from the wings the start of their performance of Christina Rossetti’s In the Bleak Midwinter poem - set to music by Harold Darke, you can see him constantly working to keep the choristers together and remind them of key performance points.

Accompanist Eileen Thomas also deserves commendation for her playing, which was never so pretty as during the Sans Day Carol (“The Holly bears a berry”), the piano notes trickling over and under the vocals in counterpoint.

The Quaynotes with their accompanist
The Quaynotes with their accompanist (Observer pic)

A final blessing from Hannah, and the concert ended with the rousing carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing; choir and congregation uniting their voices in song.

Quaynotes choir receives applause
(Observer pic)