Christmas gift

23rd December 1994 at 00:00
I felt very proud as I danced down the aisle", said nine-year-old Claire Ovenden. And rightly so, for Claire had managed her role as one of the singing shepherds in the nativity opera, A Gift at Christmas, with skill. The production was mounted by the recently revived Kent Opera in St James's Church, Egerton, and involved 60 children from five schools.

Johanna Platt's libretto proved accessible and sometimes witty, while the music, composed and conducted by Ruth Byrchmore, showed some originality in its melodic shaping and use of dissonance. Becky Chesson was convincing as the Angel Gabriel, and Hannah Griffith played Sam, the angel sent down to earth for singing wrong notes in the heavenly choir, with panache. Choreography used the limited space well, although the country dance needed more rehearsal. And chorus work was well projected despite occasional intonation problems ("I sing of a maiden", for example).

Afterwards, I asked nine-year-old Hannah Griffith how she had felt, playing Sam. "I was really nervous, but excited", she said. "I enjoyed it because I've never been in an opera before and I had lots of things to do".

Congratulations to the new Kent Opera on a successful education project.

Kent Opera Education, Pembles Cross, Egerton Ashford, Kent TN27 9EN (0233 76237).

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today