Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra is streaming a special Christmas Concert filmed at Bridgewater Hall on YouTube for free over the next month.
The concert features a selection of traditional music and popular festive tunes.
It includes contributions from the entire Hallé Orchestra and its family of Choirs, as well as poetry readings by special guests Lemn Sissay MBE and Guy Garvey.
Introducing the concert, Hallé Associate Conductor Stephen Bell said: “We’ve been affected so badly by Covid, and so many people have had their lives affected by it, and we hope, if you and yours have been, that our music brings some comfort, particularly at this time of year.”
Eerie and whimsical classics from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker mingled easily with a reading from the tale Slinky Malinki’s Christmas Crackers, about a family forced to rebuild a Christmas tree after it is cruelly destroyed by the eponymous cat – “Slinki Malinki with mischievous glee, crept from the shadows to climb up the tree” – a relatable situation for many.
Phil Jones MBE, Managing Director of Brother UK, the concert sponsor, read his poem ‘A Distanced Christmas’, urging viewers to value what matters this Christmas: “The currency of kindness, a gentle word, a good deed.”
Mr Jones said: “Researching possible readings and poems, nothing seemed to sum up the circumstances of spending so much time apart and on screens over the last nine months.
“Given that, I thought I’d have a go at writing something that captures the moment, so I hope that it resonates.”
From a solemn and dignified Silent Night to an outrageously raucous Jingle Bells, the concert also includes less traditional surprises like Somewhere In My Memory from the film Home Alone.
Stirring and beautiful, the performance by the Hallé Children’s Choir evoked a peculiar feeling of being lost and found at the same time.
After the devastating announcement on Saturday that the easing of Covid restrictions would not continue as planned this Christmas, the song’s sweetly sad lyrics took on new meaning: “Living in my memory, all of the music, all of the magic, all of the family, home here with me.”
The Hallé Christmas Concert provides an enchanting escape from a challenging reality, and is a testament to the power of music to uplift and fortify.
Stream it for free over the next month: