2015 drew to a close with two traditional seasonal events which saw Loreto’s musicians take centre stage. Christmas Mass at the ‘Hidden Gem’ in Manchester provides our choristers and instrumentalists with the opportunity to perform in one of the city’s most iconic and splendid churches. Once again they didn’t disappoint, earning well deserved plaudits from all quarters.

The Chamber Choir performed J.S. Bach’s ‘Zion hort die Wachter singen’, followed by a jazzy version of ‘You’re All I Want for Christmas’ and the perennial favourite ‘Mary’s Boy Child.’ The choir then delivered the world premiere of the winning entry in the Loreto Composition Prize: ‘Christmas Carol’, a setting of a poem by Sara Teasdale, composed by Sarah Spencer. This beautiful piece featured soloist Marion Bayley. Marion later charmed the congregation with a quirky rendition of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Another highlight was double bassist Freddie Jenson’s highly original interpretation of the traditional carol ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’. In thanking the Choir for their performance, Father Nathan Horne commented that the music making from Loreto students gets better every time he hears them, and he proclaimed that the Choir’s performance would not have been out of place at the Bridgewater Hall with a paying audience.

Carol Service Poster 2015A pleasingly large congregation of parents, staff, students and members of the wider Loreto family gathered at the Church of the Holy Name, on Oxford Road, for our Christmas Carol Service. A candle-lit Chamber Choir, featuring soloist Stella Bracegirdle, began proceedings in the traditional way with ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, before the choir, directed by Head of Music, David Lloyd-Mostyn, reprised part of their Hidden Gem programme, holding the congregation spellbound with the stunning beauty of Sarah Spencer’s ‘Christmas Carol’. The superb acoustics of the famous old church lent a spectacular quality to Marion Bayley’s solo voice.

After a congregational carol the String Ensemble, conducted by Dewi Tudor-Jones, took centre stage. Violinists Megan Auld and , and cellist Joschua Spiedel-Johnson, were outstanding as the ensemble performed Corelli’s ‘Adagio for Christmas’, Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’ and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’, which saw Sarah Spencer playing a celeste. The Wind Ensemble ‘swung’ in fine style as conductor Jenny Dyson led them through a selection from the ‘Muppets’ Christmas Carol’ and Jonnie Vinson’s ‘Jazzy Holidays’. Freddie Jenson’s virtuoso double bass piece was extremely well received before the culmination of the concert, the musicians and singers, joined by Loreto’s Pop Choir, performing three items. ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, featuring Megan Corbridge on steel pans, was followed by a slightly abridged version of Shane MacGowan’s masterful ‘Fairytale of New York’, and a rousing ‘All I Want for Christmas’ to finish the evening off in lively, foot tapping fashion.

The college is grateful for the generosity of all those at the Holy Name Church and appreciative of the warm welcome extended to us as we celebrate Christmas in this most magnificent of buildings.