University of Plymouth Choral Society and soprano soloist Anita Watson, who stood in at the very last moment

University of Plymouth Choral Society sets the scene for the festive season

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When the University of Plymouth Choral Society presents its annual Christmas Concert, you can always expect a varied programme of shorter, and often less-familiar works, excellent young soloists, and, most important, a tangible feeling of genuine enjoyment from the choir.

True, for a large choir that doesn’t audition members and is obliged to rehearse during term time only, there will be occasional lapses in ensemble. But the key to success is to ride the waves, as they will surely calm within time – such is the particular expertise of conductor Simon Ible and his devoted band of singers.

The Sinfonia, led most efficiently by Lindsay Braga, got things off to a good start with an attractive overture by William Boyce, which proved an effective aperitif before Mozart’s Missa Brevis. Written at the tender age of thirteen, its brevity was probably the most endearing quality from the fledgling composer’s somewhat embryonic work.

More Boyce, served with an added portion of Mozart, gave the orchestra another chance to shine, this time with Plymouth University student Pierre-Emmanuel Largeron taking over the baton. Here Simon’s ever-watchful eye will no doubt address the importance of both a clearer preparatory beat, and the need for tidier endings.

Pergolesi’s Magnificat drew some excellent singing from all four soloists – Angela Simkin (mezzo-soprano), Ross Scanlon (tenor), Christopher Cull (baritone), and Anita Watson (soprano), standing in for the indisposed Laura Mitchell at extremely short notice.

With congregational carols, and some traditional offerings from the choir, where organist Sean Sweeney’s accompaniment made a particularly telling contribution, this was a delightful evening which sent its large audience home in high spirits, feeling better prepared for the impending seasonal festivities.



Philip Buttall

Philip Buttall

Philip R Buttall was the Classical Music Writer at Plymouth Herald from 1997-2017. He is a sought-after piano teacher, composer and arranger, and online concert and CD reviewer. Further information and contact details are available at
Philip Buttall