Kendal South Choir, St Thomas' Church, Kendal

NOVEMBER 22 is the feast day of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music. It was also the birthday of Benjamin Britten, one of England's greatest composers. So it was fitting that Kendal South Choir should mark the occasion with an enterprising programme devoted to his works.

This is not easy music - the slow sustained vocal lines, rapid tongue twisters, intricate harmonies and jazzy rhythms test even the most professional choirs. Don Gillthorpe coaxed miracles from his singers - the odd mishap did not matter. Furthermore, he had assembled a line-up of young soloists who were a joy to watch and hear.

In the first item Rejoice in the Lamb the marvellously contrasted solos were sung by Sieberen Granger, India Harding, Daniel Kozma-Percy and Adam Hilton. Festival Te Deum gave us a chance to hear the mellifluous soprano of Lauren Osmond. Much to commend here, but the opening section seemed too slow, and the ornaments in the organ chords should be on the beat - as a result we lost a sense of direction. Jubilate Deo in C brought the first half to a sparkling conclusion. The excellent organist was Adrian Self.

It was an intriguing idea to alternate spoken Christmas poems with the movements of Ceremony of Carols. Presumably because Ceremony on its own would have made too short a second half! Unfortunately for me it didn't work despite beautiful individual narrations from members of the choir. Momentum was lost and Britten's masterpiece is so carefully structured anyhow.

Emma Richardson directed a convincing performance but some of her slow speeds made tuning and breathing difficult for the choir. The notoriously difficult In Freezing Winter Night was well done, as were the rhythmic intricacies of This Little Babe.

The harpist, AnnaKate Pearson, was outstanding. Two solos in the first half - one French and one Welsh - were a welcome contrast to the Britten pieces. Her sympathetic accompaniment and ravishing solo interlude in Ceremony of Carols transported us to a realisation of the magical innocence of Christmas.