The Edinburgh Light Orchestra performing “A Most Wonderful Christmas” at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight got that difficult balance of Christmas music, humour and warmth of feeling just right in this well attended show which was made up of all ages of people – young, older and every age in between.
On the programme in this show over two sets was a mixture of festive themed music from the worlds of classical, traditional, film, cartoon and Disney music with many songs featuring special musical arrangements by members of the ELO.
For anyone reading this review that is not familiar with The Edinburgh Light Orchestra, they have been around for a long time and 2018 was their 40th anniversary year. The Queen’s Hall and the ELO have a long history together, in fact they were one of the first amateur groups to play there. The venue size, technical set up and acoustics make it the perfect one for ELO and, over the years, their regular concerts are always warm and friendly events. Over the 41 years of its performing life, Orchestra Founder and Conductor James Beyer has, with the help of many people, organised over 70 concerts. For more information on the ELO visit their website at
Under the guidance of James as Conductor, and Lawrence Dunn as Orchestra Leader, this 2018 Christmas performance treated us to festive music ranging from popular favourites such as “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and of course “White Christmas” to traditional Christmas songs including “Silent Night” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (the last one with almost obligatory audience participation).
Festive tributes to the music of Disney and the music of “Looney Tunes” cartoons/Silly Symphonies with “What’s Up At The Symphony?” proved to be huge audience pleasers as did a tribute to Lionel Bart’s much loved musical “Oliver!”
Our classical tribute to Christmas included Sergei Prokofiev’s “Troika” (from Lieutentant Kije) ,but many people in the audience might also have recognised this music from Greg Lake’s incorporation of elements of it into his 1975 classic Christmas song “I Believe In Father Christmas". For lovers of Prokofiev’s music, Scottish Ballet are just down the road at The Festival Theatre this year with their wonderful performance of “Cinderella”.
Christmas of course for many has music from the classical composers as a required essential, and our classical themes also included excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s ever popular “The Nutcracker”, including “Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy”, “Russian Dance” and “Waltz of The Flowers”. Unfortunately for me though, not my favourite work from “The Nutcracker” – the music from the Grand Pas de Deux - but maybe next year (hint).
Good music, not so good jokes and “The Grand Ceremony of the pulling of the cracker” - what more do you want from a Christmas musical show, particularly one put on at a very affordable price?
See you next year folks.
Review by Tom King