Brian Butler December 24, 2021

Actually Gay Men’s Chorus used the theme of bells for their farewell to 2021 concert in Kemptown. Under the inspiring direction of Samuel Cousins, the choir were at their usual high standard, with old favourites and new offerings at St Mary’s Church, with accompaniment by Simon Gray, Maria Dunn and Gareth Thompson.

Singing out of sight, they opened with the hauntingly beautiful but also powerful Do You Hear What I Hear? Samuel’s own arrangement of the favourite Let It Snow was suitably jolly, with a little taste of Jingle Bells to lead into the marvellously sonorous Ukrainian Bell Carol. The Bleak Midwinter featured Ian Hollands and Chris Cage: it was clear and touching, with great harmonies from the ensemble.

The Christmas pops classic Stop The Cavalry followed with a suitable militaristic accompaniment. The audience was brought in to sing -albeit in masks – for O Come All Ye Faithful, and there was a highly unusual bouncy almost country and western version of The Holly And The Ivy, which I gather was written for children. It was terribly infectious ( oops not the right word right now !) Samuel stepped in to sing a solo in The Spirit Of Christmas- we need to hear more of his marvellous voice in future.

One of my favourites from my choir days Torches opened Part 2 and there was much else to enjoy, including a mash-up of Little Drummer Boy and Peace On Earth. Jack Lynn sang a spirited and totally excellent Ave Maria, and there was a fabulous duet of Christmas Lights by Nick Paget and Chidi Ogbonnaya.

Holding to the theme, Chris Cage read Tennyson’s poem Ring Out Wild Bells – with many modern resonances- not least its reference to ringing out “party strife”, and “the old shapes of foul disease”. The audience was recruited again to sing the hilariously quick Twelve Days Of Christmas, and Ring Out The Bells sent us out with a spring in our step.

Let’s hope that all forms of live entertainment, but especially our local choirs, give us more entertainment in 2022.

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We're very proud to have delivered on our pledge to support the Sussex Beacon as our nominated charity for 2019, donating £1,200! We have also committed to work with the Beacon again in 2020.

Thank you for your continued support for us and, in turn, for The Sussex Beacon!

Nick Paget, Chair, Actually CIC

The Sussex Beacon charity offers specialist care and support for men, women and families living with HIV. Open every day of the year, The Sussex Beacon helps people manage with the everyday realities of living with this life-long condition that has no cure.

Julie Rawcliffe of The Sussex Beacon said, ”Every year, we need to raise over two million pounds to continue providing these vital services to people living with HIV. It is only through the generosity of people like you that we are able to continue our work.”