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The Manchester Camerata’s Festive Happening

A former Wesleyan chapel built in 1910 and abandoned in 1969, Albert Hall extrudes history from every inch of peeling paint and stained glass window. The modern additions of lighting rigs, fans and a long bar barely disturb the effect at all, fading in the background against the building’s decayed grandeur.

The hall is mostly known as a gig and club night venue, but there’s always a mix of events on, with comedy Bingo to a live show of cult podcast Welcome to Nightvale, and this weekend they hosted the Manchester Camerata for their Festive Happening.

One of the country’s most well-known chamber orchestras, the Camerata are always a joy to watch and listen to, with a regular programme of music of all genres. Their eclectic mix of styles was certainly in evidence on Sunday –  the programme covering the whole gamut of festive music from Corelli’s Christmas Concerto to White Christmas.  The audience sat in unreserved seating on rows of simple chairs, or on the wooden steps around the long balcony, creating a casual and cheery atmosphere.

For pieces such as Gabrieli’s Sonata pian’ e forte, the musicians were able to play from the balconies either side of the stage just as the original performers would have done over 400 years ago in St. Mark’s Cathedral, Venice. This bring the work to life in spectacular fashion as well as making the  audience feel closer to the action.

One of the country’s most well-known chamber orchestras, the Camerata are always a joy to watch and listen to.

As well as the fantastic music, the presenters were happy to send themselves up a little, with plenty of jokes from presenter/conductor Laura Bowler, as well as principal flautist Amina Cunningham and composer in residence Simon Parkin who conducted his own gorgeous re-imagining of Vivaldi’s Winter.

The Manchester Camerata can next be heard at The Bridgewater Hall on Thursday 31 December for their New Year’s Eve Bond Spectacular. Check out their website for more of their concerts.