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  from the Wokingham Times, 24 December 1998

A rousing performance gets everyone in the festive spirit

Wokingham Choral Society's conductor Edward Gardner used some interesting arrangements for many of the carols in this lively concert at All Saints' Church

Wright's Deck the Halls lost its hackneyed feel and took on a new character.

Ding Dong Merrily was given a jaunty air with a lilting rhythmic backing.

The harmonies of Silent Night lifted the old favourite right into the twentieth century.

Of the Father's Heart Begottenwas a beautiful carol arranged by Willcocks.

It would have been impossible even to attempt this piece, or Joubert's dramatic Torches, without a very responsive well-trained choir.

Nor would Wright's brilliant The Twelve Days of Christmas, with its witty, nimble and variable tempo and tone, [have] been such fun.

Denny Lyster, who accompanies the choir at rehearsals, gave an exciting performance on the organ of Bach's In Dulci Jubilo

He also conducted the crisp, bright Sir Christemas by William Mathias and Warlock's lovely Bethlehem Down.

Away in a Manger was sung very sweetly and clearly by children from the audience accompanies by the softly humming choir.

Paddy Haycocks, the BBC presenter, read.

He brought fresh meaning to well-known pieces - Betjeman's Christmas, Tennyson's Ring Out Wild Bells, giving them a contemporary feel (...'ring in redress to all mankind!').

His quotation from Isaiah sparkled and his reading of St John Chapter One was illuminating and thrilling.

The occasion was an excellent start to the Christmas festivities, and we had the privilege of being led by Gardner himself who turned round to conduct us as we joined in our favourite carols.

The choir's next concert will be on March 28 - Mozart's Mass in C Minor. Not to be missed.

  Rosemary Bayliss