It is a much-loved fixture of the concert calendar, but over the years the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Noel! Noel! Christmas celebration has been through many reinventions.
A few years ago a highlight was a Ukrainian folk singer – a tribute to the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down over that country. Then it was the turn of the musicals with young Brisbane tenor Joel Parnis as the star of the 2017 programme. Last year award-winning First Nations crooner Marcus Corowa topped the bill in a slimmed down production.
So ABO fans must have been wondering what surprises the imaginative Artistic Director Paul Dyer, a master of showmanship, would come up with this year. Well, there weren’t any. The sole guest was an old friend of the band, Christina Leonard, adding an interesting mix of the old and the new with her soprano saxophone soaring over historically informed gut strings, sackbuts and valveless trumpets for a couple of tried and trusted settings by Sydney composer Tristan Coelho – another Dyer favourite.