EVERYONE is familiar with The Snowman - a much-loved festive fairy story first broadcast in December 1982 about a small boy’s dream adventures with a snowman he built in his garden.

And like everyone in the audience, I’ve heard Howard Blake’s score a hundred times at least. But the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra brought this simplistic tale to life in a way I’ve never experienced before. It was as if each piece of music had been stripped back so you could appreciate every layer.

Conductor Hugh Brunt did a sterling job of keeping everything in sync with the short film animation which was projected on to a big screen at the centre of the stage, and full credit must go to the BSO who delivered a tight and well-rehearsed performance.

But the highlight of the night, without doubt, was 13-year-old soloist Oliver Payne who hit every high note of the iconic song, Walking in the Air, with an effortless purity. Oliver, who is a pupil at Twynham School in Christchurch, had been selected for the evening performance after a series of auditions. The talented singer, rose to the occasion as if he had been performing with a live orchestra all his young life. (Nine-year-old Oliver Gill was chosen for the earlier afternoon performance).

The first half of the programme consisted of extracts from Tchaikovsky’s famous Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, from the elegant Waltz of the Flowers to the exciting Russian Dance – each piece instantly recognisable. CBeebies presenter, Pui Fan Lee, was the perfect narrator for the younger members of the audience, accompanied by wonderful imagery on the big screen created by Emily Carew Woodward.

All in all it was an evening of irresistible nostalgia.