Never mind selection box, this was a Christmas cracker of a concert.
The first half, comprising well-chosen movements from four classical symphonies by Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz and Tchaikovsky, had audience members riveted to their pews; while the second half was all about relaxing into the seasonal theme, with carols and old festive favourites, many of which had been delightfully arranged by conductor Nicholas Simpson.
In these particularly troubled times I find it enormously reassuring to witness so many talented local people working harmoniously together to produce such inspiring music. This Christmas is unlikely to bring peace and goodwill to the world but in our small corner of Yorkshire we have plenty of music to soothe the soul, including that produced by the 150-year-old Phil.
The parish church may not be quite spacious enough to house a philharmonic orchestra, but it was nevertheless a lovely period setting in which to showcase early 19th century music.
While I overheard one of the musicians complaining about cramped quarters for the players, and the resulting effect on acoustics, I can only say that attempts to fill the church with big sounds were entirely successful. Nowhere was this more evident than in the exciting and somewhat explosive fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4, a testing piece for the orchestra, in particular the percussion section, which was delivered with aplomb.
The first two classical pieces were familiar - the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No 40 (often used in television programmes and films) and Beethoven’s 5th - and together with the fourth movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique they represented a time-line of symphony development, a musical history lesson.
There was emotion and drama, coupled with incisive playing, in both halves of the concert.
We left, after 90 minutes or so of symphonies, carol singing and Christmas music, with that warm and fuzzy feeling only such festive events can produce.
While the orchestra had pulled in a reasonable number of punters I was saddened that there were so few children there to witness the experience of hearing a live orchestra - because there’s nothing quite like it.