The RSNO Christmas Concert 2015: The Snowman, Usher Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Gregory Batsleer (RSNO Chorus Director)
Christopher Bell (conductor), Georgie Glen (narrator), Andrew Whitelaw (soloist), RSNO, RSNO Chorus.
Running time

The RSNO Christmas Concert is a festive treat for all the family.

The full orchestra take to the stage at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, looking smart and stylish in their traditional black and white dress. They are soon joined by conductor Christopher Bell, whose somewhat garish and less traditional red, white and blue snowflake suit, together with his jaunty, ebullient persona, generates some laughter and cheering among the audience.

Bell is both skilled and experienced in motivating audience-participation, and when he announces that while he has been conducting this Christmas concert for over twenty years, today’s is the first that has ever been sold out, the audience cheers again – all on board and ready to go, with Bell, to make this concert one to remember.

They begin with a Christmas medley by Leroy Anderson that includes such favourites as Hark the Herald Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful – there’s even an opportunity at this early stage for Bell to get everyone involved, as he conducts the audience in a hum-along to the Silent Night bit. Having successfully warmed up the room and kindled a Christmassy spirit, it’s on to the main event – a ‘full-fat version’, as Bell calls it, of The Snowman that includes a screening of the film, a live accompaniment by the RSNO and a narration by a special guest.

Today, the story of a boy’s night-time adventure with the snowman he creates is ably narrated by Scottish actress Georgie Glen, and young Andrew Whitelaw does not disappoint with his angelic performance of the Walking in the Air solo. Add this to the sheer delight of simultaneously being able to watch the film while an accomplished orchestra brings the story to life before your eyes, and the result is a truly magical experience.

After an interval the orchestra come back looking less formal, wearing silly hats, tinsel and costumes, and are joined by the RSNO Chorus who are similarly attired. Christopher Bell generates further cheers when he appears in shiny red trousers and a Christmas jumper adorned with a stuffed reindeer. This second half is a joyful celebration of Christmas, with some rousing and glorious singing from the Chorus and lots of on-your-feet participation opportunities for the audience.

The concert is a warm and hearty affair and is surely one of the few communal events that can boast an age range that must span close to a hundred years, with babes in arms, great-grandparents and all decades in between equally represented. It’s an all-inclusive slice of quality festive fun.

Event: 20th December