It would be nice to believe everything conductor Nicholas Kok told the audience on New Year’s Eve.

According to him, those gathered in the Royal Concert Hall were the best singers, the best clappers, the best…well, just the best. Even if all this buttering up was just part of the festive fun, there could be no doubt about the real talent on stage to welcome in 2018.

Marking a year of musical superstardom, Sheku Kanneh-Mason was there to play the hauntingly beautiful Nocturne from Shostakovich’s The Gadfly and the dazzlingly virtuosic finale from Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto . Nottingham audiences have almost got used to his beauty of tone and total command of his instrument. What is still astonishing is the emotional generosity of each performance, of joy in musical creation being shared with those listening.

I hadn’t come across local singer (and fire-fighter) Andy Quinn before, but suspect that everyone will be talking about him soon. His slightly self-effacing manner didn’t obscure a lovely voice, some thrilling top notes and a musical intelligence that reached deep inside songs such as Younger than Springtime, Always on my Mind and Anthem from Chess .

Sinfonia Viva was on top form throughout the evening, fizzing in the opening Bartered Bride dance, dancing its way through Tchaikovsky and Johann Strauss, caressing the audience tenderly with Elgar’s Salut d’Amour and providing enough warm Spanish atmosphere in Bizet’s Carmen to make us forget that a cold, dark, wet New Year’s Eve awaited us outside.

Nicholas Kok ensured that all this orchestral sparkle and pizzazz seemed effortless. He knew how to handle his audience too, knowing that a bit of flattery goes down well – a well as some endearing vagueness about what the programme notes said. All in all, a cork-poppingly good way to end Nottingham’s musical year.