Christmas carols at Kings: Sheer hell, says TripAdvisor

Christmas carols at Kings: Sheer hell, says TripAdvisor


norman lebrecht

December 30, 2015

‘Through its annual Christmas broadcasts, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge has become a centrepiece of the festive tradition for families around the world,’ begins Disgruntled of Chichester.


‘After an hour, Charlie and I rejoined the queue and prepared to wait another hour until we were requested to rejoin the queue! The time now was 1.15pm and we were now bunched up ready to be asked to move forward in 30 minutes! Eventually we proceeded to the Chapel ,the time now 1.50pm. We managed to get seated in the seventh row from the front and I was pleased with our seats. At 2pm the Organ Recital started and I then realised we were being subjected to an hour long Recital!

‘There were 13 individual movements and they were awfully dull and uninspiring. We really wanted to get on with the Carol Service!…

‘We then had another reading from the Representative of the City of Cambridge and it went on and on! It was so dull.A few Carols inbetween and then another dull and monotonous Reading from the Master of the Choristers ! By this point we had heard only three recognisably famous hymns…’

More of the same here.

It’s just not like that on the telly.



  • Peter Lovett says:

    Oh dear, what a shame, never mind.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I once bought a ticket for a performance of Bach’s Mass in B with the Kings College Choir and a bunch of well-known soloists, only to find-out that my seat was behind the organ screen in the middle, so I never heard the music but only the echos it made. The chapel is a fantastic building, though.

  • Robert King says:

    Firstly, we should blame that St Luke fellow for writing all that story in such a long-winded way, A few tweets would have been fine.

    Then we should blame the Dean and Chapter for not installing big screens and showing the Footy before (and maybe during) the service. Who needs boring old organ music in church (I mean, that Bach dude is just so eighteenth century) when you could show “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and maybe run a competition?

    Next, we should blame that earlier Dean guy back in 1918 for putting in nine lessons. Who needs nine lessons when you could just post it all on Facebook and then go shopping.

    And why isn’t there popcorn served during the service?

    Oh, good heavens, was it billed as a service? A service in a church? A Carol service? With Nine (is that a bit of a clue?) Lessons and Carols?

    Should have gone to Tesco. They play Christmas carols there, but you can still buy cornflakes at the same time and have a coffee if you get bored. That’s much more like Christmas should be.

  • Sponger says:

    Jeez you guys have all fallen for a classic attempt at trolling. The clues are there.

  • Patrick says:

    TripAdvisor also says this….

    Visitor rating

    Excellent 1,078
    Very good 268
    Average 54
    Poor 5
    Terrible 4

  • V.Lind says:

    Perhaps Disgruntled of Chichester (perhaps a cousin to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells) ought to train him- or herself on some of the superb lunchtime concerts available at Chichester Cathedral. They are reliably short, and you can even bring a sandwich if you want. She (the whinge has a feminine ring) might hear some music she has not heard before — seems very likely — but at least not for long!

    I have some recordings from Kings, including a Service of Lessons and Carols, and they included some carols with which, when I was younger, I was not yet familiar. I am now, and as I attended Services of Lessons and Carols in various Cathedrals through the years, I was more and more familiar with the programmes they presented. I agree, the word “Lessons” in the programme ought to be a tip-off, and, after all, it IS a familiar story (though considerably less so than it used to be) and in my experience of the Service in several denominations, the readings are pretty short — if that is a consideration. Judging by the response to the organ recital by DoC, it is…

    Kings is to be reprimanded for not choosing its repertoire from AM radio and the “music” infesting the shopping centres from Hallowe’en on. What a a swizz, to get people in at Christmas and then ply them with real music and the Nativity story.

  • Robert King says:

    The entry on TripAdvisor now seems to have been taken down (I couldn’t find it at all just now, whereas it was certainly there yesterday). Bit of a shame – it was a fine Christmas read.

  • Paolo V Montanari says:

    Well, once at Arena di Verona I heard a guy complaining that they should have put more famous tunes in the show. A friend of his assured him that he was able to recognize at least a couple of them. The show was Rigoletto.

  • King's Singer says:

    I was there too….
    It was perfection as always.
    Disgruntled of Chichester should really have stayed in Sussex and listened on the radio instead of attending the service.
    Maybe then he would have done us, himself and his poor son this ignorant rant

  • Michael Wilkinson says:

    People often do not read the label carefully. I was at an exhibition last week when an English lady noted – in one of those echoey, gallery voices – that she had not expected the show to be all pictures of people, and all by one artist. This was ‘Goya Portraits’, at the National Gallery.

  • Bernard says:

    It’s a shame neither David Willcocks nor Stephen Cleobury ever arranged “Feliz Navidad” for the service. And Buxtehude’s “Fantasia sopra Jingle Bells” would certainly have improved the organ recital.

    Haven’t they learned anything at King’s in the past century?

  • D0c2370 says:

    Yes they have learned a lot from the naysayers. There will mow be a new sog ion Cleobury’s office: “Some people are inherently assholes if you give them a chance.”