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“The Best Ever” Christmas Concert

Irish Heritage’s first bursary recipient Carolyn Holt returns for superb performance

The headline reflects the reaction on the evening and the response received over succeeding days to Irish Heritage’s “Christmas by Candlelight Concert” on Monday evening, 16th December.

The beautiful St George’s Church in Hanover Square in the heart of the West End provided an appropriate setting for an evening of carols, seasonal music and readings that the audience who thronged the church thoroughly enjoyed.

The principal soloist was mezzo-soprano Carolyn Holt, recipient of the first Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance awarded in 2015. Carolyn’s superb performance of “O Holy Night” with the Arb Ensemble in the early part of the concert set the standard for what was to follow.

Accompanied by another of Irish Heritage’s bursary recipients, talented pianist Brian Hughes, Carolyn also sang “He was despised” from Handel’s Messiah and Shubert’s “Ave Maria”.

The Arb Ensemble performed a number of choral pieces including “The Three Kings” by Cornelius and “The Wexford Carol”.

There were readings by Cecilia Gallagher, Chair of the Women’s Irish Network and Petroc Trelawny of BBC Radio. Petroc’s lively interpretation of “The Christmas Dinner” from James Joyce’s “The Dead” was memorable.
His Excellency, the Ambassador of Ireland, Adrian O’Neill read three favourite poems including “Magi” by Collette Bryce which had the audience smiling.

A highlight of the evening was Carolyn Holt’s performance of a new arrangement of the Irish carol “Don Oiche Úd I mBeithil”. The arrangement by Audrey McKenna, producer of the concert, was dedicated to Ambassador O’Neill, First Secretary Ruaidhri Dowling, and the staff of the Embassy in London to acknowledge Irish Heritage’s appreciation of their support.

In between traditional carols were enthusiastically sung by the audience accompanied on the church’s distinctive organ, the first American built of its type in London, by Polina Sosnina.

The evening finished with an enjoyable reception where the audience had the opportunity to meet the performers and readers.

Picture caption {left to right): Patrick Lennon, Chairman of Irish Heritage; Audrey McKenna, Artistic Adviser of Irish Heritage and producer of the concert; Petroc Trelawny of BBC; Carolyn Holt; HE the Ambassador of Ireland, Adrian O’Neill and Jonathan Darbourne of The Arb Ensemble.

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