HOWEVER hectic your own preparations for the festive season might have been, you know as you settle into your chair for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s carol concert that you are about to experience one of Christmas’s great pleasures.

Once again, the orchestra was joined by the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, the Bournemouth Symphony Youth Chorus & Children’s Chorus – and by us, the audience, who sang half a dozen carols.

Things got under way with a deliciously festive Medley On Christmas Carols by Ron Goodwin, whose own Christmas concerts with the BSO were an institution for three decades.

Another highlight of the first half was the youth and children’s chorus adeptly performing the Carol of the Bells. It sat alongside such carols as Ding Dong Merrily On High, In the Bleak Midwinter and Good King Wenceslas, with a lavish arrangement of O Holy Night leading us into the interval.

As well as more carols, the second half contained the secular fun of Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. The Bournemouth Symphony Chorus treated us to a memorable rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus before the audience lent its voices to Hark the Herald Angels Sing, closing the concert.

But the evening was not all about work from previous centuries. It also contained no fewer than two world premieres – of the infectiously lively carol Joy Is Born, by the evening’s conductor Gavin Carr, and of the atmospheric Tommy’s Carol, composed by Alexander Campkin for Tommy’s, the charity that funds research into miscarriage, still birth and premature birth.

Beautifully played and sung throughout, this was a concert sure to soothe any pre-Christmas stress and remind the audience that the season can still be magical.