The following is an extract from an article by Keith Miller, published in The Telegraph and online at telegraph.co.uk on 6 December. Please read the whole article here.
Happily, as with other essential activities (office work, pursuit cycling), technology has come to the rescue of singers and their audiences. The traditional carol concert has migrated online. On Dec 11, Macmillan Cancer Support, one of four charities supported by this year’s Telegraph Christmas Appeal, is presenting “Follow the Stars”, a celeb-strewn updating of the classic Nine Lessons and Carols format, with music from the Oxford Bach Soloists and readings and performances from Stephen Fry, Benjamin Zephaniah, Joanna Lumley and others, filmed in Christ Church Cathedral and at performers’ homes. It will be free to stream, with opportunities to donate.
Fry, who will read an extract from The Wind in the Willows, said: “Macmillan needs to raise money to continue providing vital support to people living with cancer. The volunteers have done a fantastic job of taking a much-loved festive event and adapting it to work in this most unusual of years.”
Tom Hammond-Davies, artistic director of the OBS, told me that, despite the impossibility of putting on a real, flesh-and-blood gig, there is an upside to doing it this way: “We’ve been able to expand, to bring more to the party. We are taking viewers on a magical mystery tour around the cathedral and we’re featuring more performers, some of them filmed in their living rooms, which has an intimacy to it. It’s more light-hearted than a traditional carol service. And of course, if you can’t make the 11th, you can always watch it afterwards.”