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The CHRISTMAS CRACKER, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

The Christmas Cracker concert given by the City of Glasgow Chorus and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera is undoubtedly one of the most aptly named of the festive shows at the Concert Hall.

There's an element of surprise to the programme – alongside the certainty there will be bad jokes, silly hats and some standard Christmas Cracker fare. Indeed, this concert has become such a staple of so many Glaswegians' Christmases that conductor and MC Graham Taylor receives requests in advance from regulars, and makes references to parties which attend – in the same seats – year in, year out.

For the first half of Sunday evening's concert we were in luxury cracker territory with a selection of Christmas classics that ranged from exquisite and sumptuous performances of such carols as The First Noel, O Holy Night and In the Bleak Midwinter (a repeat request, we were told, from "Captain Peacock of Helensburgh") to American holiday favourites, among them We Need a Little Christmas and The Christmas Song.

After what must have been the fourth Sleigh Ride at the Concert Hall this season and the pulling of the audience's crackers, the second half was where the element of surprise kicked in. In what turned out to be an over-long programme of crowd pleasers from across the musical genres it was a treat to hear this terrific orchestra playing the themes from favourite blockbusters, and to have the opportunity to singalong on medleys of Beatles and Abba hits. Less successful were the uneven Grease! medley and the lacklustre 12 Days of Christmas. When it comes to Christmas crackers, the quality of the contents is surely more important than the quantity.


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