#70 Christmas Celebration by Candlelight at St James’s Church, Piccadilly
Aw, bless. There aren’t many better places to hear Christmas music than the determinedly Christmassy St James’s Church on Piccadilly. Once you’ve threaded your way through the Christmassy market in the courtyard, you’ll seat yourself inside one of Christopher Wren’s smaller-scale, even intimate churches. Like so much of 18th-century London, this still feels like an (albeit grand) local parish church. I was tempted by Tituvillus to lazily write ‘it’s world away from the crowded streets outside’, but this is bollocks: it’s the same people in here, te well-to-do Mayfair types with nothing to prove and nothing to repay, as well as a smattering of slightly bewildered tourists and a handful of fossilised old dears who appear to have been attending since before the place was bombed, gutted and rebuilt after World War II.
This concert mixed up the classic Vivaldi usual suspects, a heaping of Messiah, Pachelbel’s soporific Canon, a handful of carols that we all joined in with, and a few determinedly modern pieces too. In the interval, we were encouraged to have a cup of tea – not from an old lady with an industrial-sized kettle, but from the Caffe Nero embedded in the church’s southern side. Well, this is Piccadilly, after all.