REVIEW: Rejoice! Sage Gateshead

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The perfect antidote to the death by recorder suffered by parents at school nativity plays has to be Christmas carols courtesy of the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The acclaimed orchestra adds an extra oomph and undoubted class to rousing renditions of classics like Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Good King Wenceslas.

Blue Peter presenter and TV adventurer Helen Skelton was the host of this festive musical feast and filled in the slots between song with Christmas readings which were warm-hearted and light-humoured.

Singing support was provided by the impressive Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia and the angelic Quay Choirs, which also featured the Quay Lasses and Quay Lads.

But audience-participation was actively encouraged during favourites like We Three Kings of Orient Are and O Come All Ye Faithful.

The orchestra was sublime and never more so than during their performances of the famous composers which included Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah and Tavener’s The Lamb.

That said, they showed they could also have fun, donning Christmas hats for a rip-roaring version of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride.

No pyrotechnics or special effects were employed, this was simply a musical version of mulled wine and sweet mince pies, warming all the senses and leaving everyone in attendance with that pleasing Christmas glow.

(The show was part of Sage Gateshead’s classical season which includes performances throughout Christmas, including live versions of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. For details log onto www.sagegateshead.com)