6 December 2021
History will dictate that Christmas 2021 was a moment when separation, social distancing and the side-stepping of airport terminals was de rigour.
Global constraints included Austria in full lockdown – Germany following suit – Italy introducing a ‘super green pass’ and England not quite sure what it thought about the wearing of facemasks.
The very notion of zipping around the world for a spot of cultural interaction was the preserve of that rosy-cheeked chap, sporting red suit, beard and a vaccine passport recognised by every authority.
All this changed with curtain-up at Kilgraston School’s multi-cultural musical medley, ‘Christmas Around the World’.
Hosted by Perth’s magnificent Concert Hall, the entire school – from five-year-olds with vocal ranges rising and falling like those of their hem lengths – to accomplished senior pupils demonstrating orchestral prowess, took audience members on a whirl-wind tour across international time zones.
Scandinavia became our journey’s departure lounge, 16th Century ‘Gaudete’ heralding a spookily cool blue backdrop, quickly morphing to the warm glow of a Swedish summer sunset.
France was the next in-flight snack, a cheeky little ‘Noel Nouvelet’ delivered by cheeky little Junior Years’ pupils, beaming and blushing to the able direction of Director of Music, Andrew Morley.
Gathering altitude, we were off to Wales, native speakers reminding viewers the country was “very good at rugby, but even better at singing!”. Clarsach and violin tinkled like cats’ paws on Cardiff Bay, the hauntingly beautiful ‘When Christ was born of Mary free’ bringing a tingle to every spine.
Soaring above borders, next stop Austria, restrictions an unpleasant memory: “Here we are in Vienna,” trilled a native speaker, “the capital of classical music.” How lovely, there we all were, strolling aside the Danube, Kilgraston’s Junior Choir’s ‘Still, still, still’ ebbing and flowing like the great river itself.
A bit of in-flight turbulence as we approached the States. Wind Band, full orchestra and all three choirs upped the ante with an ear-popping Christmas Medley of everyone’s favourites: “Happy holidays,” beamed a native New Yorker, “It’s time for eggnog!”
Sadly, air stewards refrained from serving alcoholic libation to the stalls, but, after a swift spot of in-flight refuelling, time to buckle-up for the rest of the ride, Caribbean beaches our next destination.
The Dominican Republic – land of festive “suckling pigs and fireworks” according to our captain – was brought to the banks of the Tay by a finger-clicking, foot-tapping Chamber Choir, knocking-out upbeat ‘Cantemos a Maria’ as if maracas were mandatory in Perthshire.
Breaking sound barriers, the same pupils demonstrated all the agility of an F-16 fighter, jetting seamlessly over the Italian Alps with ‘Hodie Christus Natus Est’, both A cappella and in native Latin.
Nosecone over the Balearics, the Instrumental Ensemble was deftly guided through Spain’s traditional carol, ‘Campana Sobre Campana,’ guitar strings plucked.
Swooping over rural England, the Senior Choir ‘Watched their Flocks by Night’ – the song-flight nearing its terminus – circling over France, where pupil soloist Hannah-Rose lit-up the skies with her spiritual ‘Oh Holy Night.’
It certainly was.
Having landed safely, caution was promptly thrown to the tail-wind with a bracing rendition of legendary Live Aid’s, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’
Answer? Yes, they most certainly did!
Readings, in a multitude of languages, delivered with the crisp pronunciation of a British Airways pilot: full-throttle audience participation of traditional favourites, all made for a First-Class ride.
Throughout the world, many will wonder if it is indeed the season to be jolly.
But for a few short hours, at least, Christmas Around the World – Kilgraston style – was very definitely the destination of choice.