If it's the Monday the week before December 25, it must be the Jingle Bell extravaganza of the Raymond Gubbay Christmas festival.

This particular concert has become the first day of Christmas for many concert-goers, though what was immediately apparent was that there were considerably fewer of those than in previous years, and it seemed as if energetic conductor John Rigby had to work almost twice as hard to get the party going.

He was ably assisted – as ever – by buoyant Jacinta Whyte, an Irish singer who is clearly good value as she appears to have two different voices. On the obligatory high-octane, pop-style, versions of Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, her performance prompted one child to observe: "That lady's not singing; she's shouting."

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On the slower numbers, however, she once more revealed a beautiful, lilting voice which was best showcased on the older and old-fashioned sounding songs, among them the lovely waltz It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and, especially, the heart-warming, borderline schmaltzy, Christmas Stays the Same, an apt choice if ever there was one for a show which changes only slightly from one festive season to the next.

Whyte's singing partner this year was the Canadian Tim Howar who also stood out on the ballads, notably a sumptuous Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas which helped banish the Rod Stewart version momentarily from the mind.

But the main highlights were the always entertaining 12 Days of Christmas – with audience participation – and the classy contributions of the Consort of Voices.