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Radio City Cash for Kids Christmas Concert 2017

The ninth annual Radio City Cash for Kids Christmas Concert took place on Monday 18th December 2017. Featuring 11 choirs, two special guest acts, a string quartet and horn section, this was another spectacular and memorable event.

Following an opening sequence of Canon Paul Rattigan, The Bebington Bittermen singing from the bridge at the back of the cathedral and Simon Greening introducing the concert, the Birkenhead High School Academy choirs took to the stages! The junior choir opened the concert with their rendition of the upbeat Frosty the Snowman, directed by Amy Chalmers and Vanessa Singh. The senior choir then went on to sing Last Christmas as a tribute to George Michael; this featured an ad lib section at the end by Eloisa Goodall, which she carried off really well. Both choirs then joined together to perform Winter Wonderland to finish their set off with a flourish.

Following BHSA, the choirs all rearranged themselves during the congregational carol. Like clockwork, three choirs were in place ready to go by the end of the carol! The Bebington Bittermen had made their way from the bridge and were in place ready to perform a cappella! Led by James Sills, this choir has gone from strength to strength over the past few years since their first performance at the event. There is a real togetherness and their blend and tone are really quite special. They performed a stomping version of Frozen Heart from the Disney film, ‘Frozen’ followed by a beautiful version of Amazing Grace which they learned from Ian Davidson at Blokefest.

Sunlight Unplugged followed the Bittermen. They are another a cappella choir but they rehearse in their lunch hours at work! Led by Jennifer John, all the members work at Unilever in Port Sunlight. Again, their quality has really developed over the last few years and it is hard to believe they only rehearse for one hour a week. They performed Perri Alleyne-Hughes’ arrangement of The Coventry Carol followed by Counting Stars by OneRepublic. This was a nice combination of pieces and Bill Wilson was absolutely magnificent, soloing throughout Counting Stars. His range, dynamic control and overall tone were stunning and a real highlight of the concert.

The Bidston Avenue Primary School Choir were next up. This was their first ever performance at the event and they were so excited to be there! They only formed in September when they were established by Amy Chalmers. They sang with real power and energy complete with dance moves and they endeared themselves to the audience with their charisma and stage presence as well as their beautiful singing! They performed Sparkle & Shine from ‘Nativity’ followed by It Feels Like Christmas from ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’.

MiC Lowry finished off the first half. We were so pleased to have them back after they were unable to perform at last year’s event (they were out of town doing all manners of exciting events including supporting Justin Bieber on his European tour!) They performed Silent Night followed by their current single, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. They were absolutely stunning. They went down a storm and proved a real inspiration to all the young singers in the choirs who were sat watching in awe!

Following the interval, Egremont Primary School Choir opened the second half. This was their third appearance at the concert. Led by Vicky Burr, they always prove popular with the energy and pure joy that they always put into their performances. This year was no exception and they filled the cathedral with their big voices! A real highlight was Adele Gurr’s awesome solo at the start of One Little Christmas Tree by Stevie Wonder. They then went on to perform another Stevie Wonder Christmas classic, What Christmas Means To Me.

Creative Community Choir were ready on the other stage once Egremont finished their set.  They are the only choir to have performed at every single Radio City Cash for Kids Christmas Concerts! They started their performance with a rousing version of Christmas Is Coming Ely Hinchsliff and James Sills took solos in ‘Irish Blessing’, both showcasing a tonal purity that resonated throughout the cathedral; this really suited the acoustics.

Another congregational carol allowed the choirs to again exchange places and as if by magic, two brand new choirs were then ready to perform their sets! The next segment saw Chris Watson’s Kaboodle Community Choir collaborating with the string quartet and Dan on organ to perform a medley of O Come O Come Emmanuel and O Holy Night. The dynamic grew and grew throughout the medley until the crescendo of the chorus in O Holy Night where the Christmas feels were truly released across the cathedral!

Back on the other stage, it was the turn of St Anselm’s. It was their third appearance at the cathedral and they have really developed their sound and blend over the past three years. They performed Somewhere Only We Know, as made Christmassy by Lily Allen when she sang it on the John Lewis 2013 Christmas advert.

Kaboodle and St Anselm’s then joined together to collaborate on Chris Watson’s arrangement of Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney. They were joined by a horn section featuring players from St Anselm’s and Birkenhead High School Academy. This was a really uplifting piece that worked really well!

Another collaboration then took place between Over The Water & The Luminelles alongside the string quartet. Following a really busy year for both groups, they decided to come together for their big Christmas performances and this concert was their first performance together. Vicky Burr & Claire Cooper-Shone kicked off Do You Hear What I Hear with solos, their voices resounding around the cathedral beautifully, before the full choir came in. Following this, the pace was taken up and they performed This Christmas by Donny Hathaway.

Two Black Sheep were the final act to take to the stage. After a fantastic year where they have gigged their original album, this was an opportunity for them to take on a Christmas cover! With the string quartet and Over The Water/The Luminelles backing them, they performed Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon. It was a lovely rendition.

Charmed String Quartet played an instrumental version of Fairytale of New York while all the choirs got into position for the finale pieces. As always, the string quartet had added real magic throughout the evening, backing many of the choirs.

All the singers from all the choirs who had performed throughout the evening were in place for the two finale pieces. This was an awesome sight and it went on to prove to be an awesome sound too! The young singers particularly enjoyed the brand new Sia song, Santa’s Coming For Us and they sang their hearts out! Robyn Hart took the solo at the beginning of this piece and she did an outstanding job. The final piece of the evening was the traditional annual version of Walking In The Air.

A big thank you must go to the following –

All the Musical Directors & Pianists – Vicky Burr, Amy Chalmers, Jennifer John, Pat Lammin, James Sills, Vanessa Singh, Chris Watson
The Guitarists – Rob Chalmers & Casey Taylor
The String Quartet – Kate O’Brien (Violin I), Beth Watson (Violin II), Helen Measures (Viola) & Vicky Mutch (Cello)
The Horn Section – Scott Henderson (Trumpet), Cameron McGregor (Trumpet), Lissie Moots (Tenor Saxophone), Blae Stacey (Trombone), Martin Waters (Baritone Saxophone) & Jonathan Stevens (Trombone)
The Stage Managers – Molly Daniel & Dionne McHugh
The Organist – Dan Bishop
The Sound Team – Dave Corns & Rachel Harris
The Cathedral Team – Lucy Rafferty & co
The Cash for Kids Team – Carole Clare, Vevina Quigley, Alison Edwards, Katie Harrison

Full setlist for the concert below –

FIRST HALF

Welcome by Canon Paul Rattigan, Liverpool Cathedral

Bebington Bittermen sing from bridge (A Cappella)

Birkenhead High School Academy Choir                                   

Junior School:  Frosty The Snowman
Senior School: Last Christmas (Eloisa Goodall ad libs)     
Senior & Junior Choir: Winter Wonderland       

 Congregational Carol
HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING                       

Speaker: Carole Clare, from Radio City Cash For Kids

Bebington Bitter Men                            

Frozen Heart
Amazing Grace                                                 

Sunlight Unplugged  

Coventry Carol             (Soloists: Sally Grimshaw, Suzi Adams,
                                          Sally Lynam & Anne-Marie Carvell)
Counting Stars             (Soloist: Bill Wilson)

Bidston Avenue Primary School Choir           

 Sparkle & Shine
It Feels Like Christmas

Congregational Carol
THE FIRST NOWELL                         

MiC Lowry                       

Silent Night
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

INTERMISSION

SECOND HALF

Egremont Primary Choir                       

 One Little Christmas Tree     (Soloist: Adele Gurr)
What Christmas Means To Me

Creative Community Choir                       

Christmas Is Coming
Irish Blessing                        (Soloists – Ely Hinchsliff & James Sills)

Congregational Carol
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN                       

 Kaboodle Community Choir

O Come O Come Emmanuel / O Holy Night Medley

St Anselm’s Pop Choir

 Somewhere Only We Know

 Kaboodle & St Anselm’s Pop Choir with horn section

 Wonderful Christmastime                       

Congregational Carol
O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL                       

 Over The Water feat. The Luminelles
Do You Hear What I Hear             (Soloists: Vicky Burr, Claire Cooper-Shone,
                                                                 Dionne McHugh & Molly Daniel)
This Christmas

 Two Black Sheep (feat. Over The Water & The Luminelles)           

 Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

 Charmed String Quartet           

 Fairytale Of New York

 Finale (All Choirs)

Santa’s Coming For Us           (Soloist: Robyn Hart)
Walking In The Air

 

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Christmas Over The Water At Constellations

On Saturday 23rd December, Over The Water held their Christmas Concert featuring The Luminelles, Two Black Sheep & Charmed String Quartet. It was particularly Christmassy with it being so late in the season and only two days before Christmas Day and Constellations was dressed up beautifully!

The concert was full to the brim with Christmas cheer along with moving solos and lush harmonies!

The first half was a celebration and a revue of what has been an exciting year for all of the acts performing. The Luminelles opened the afternoon, singing Sgt Pepper/With A Little Help From My Friends, which we put together originally for the opening day of the ‘Sgt Pepper At 50′ festival earlier this year. They then went on to perform Runnin’ and Empire State of Mind from their repertoire and Annie’s Song which they learnt for Dionne and my wedding in July!

Two Black Sheep then took to their stage with their string quartet and they performed lush arrangements of their own songs along with Fix You by Coldplay and One Day Like This by Elbow.

Over The Water then took to the stage to perform an upbeat set from their repertoire which they have built up over the course of this year. Their set included Kiss From A Rose which they learnt on Pitch Battle, with solos from Claire Cooper-Shone, Nina Cox and Dionne McHugh. They also performed Thinking Out Loud, Don’t Let Waterfalls Go Diggity (featuring Jan Ross & Molly Daniel) and a medley of Sweet Dreams, Human and Rhythm Is A Dancer.

The Luminelles then returned to the stage, joining Over The Water to finish off the first half with a bang. This formidable combination of choirs sang Symphony with solos from Amy Heywood and Lauren Heywood and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough with solos from Molly Jackson, Arden Williams and Joanne Steel.

All the performers returned to the stage for the second half, which was a full-out Christmas celebration! Full to the brim with festive arrangements, the Christmas spirit took over the whole room!

There were lots of standout solo moments including Jess Hynes leading Silver Bells, Poppy Smailes, Imogen Green and Kelly Nsutebu in Do You Hear What I Hear and Mary McCombs taking the emotional lead on Real Love. Len Higginson revived his ‘Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire’ with the string quartet which was a special moment and Amy and Rob performed their traditional ‘Fairytale Of New York’. Our final two songs were the Anglican Cathedral finale pieces that we had performed earlier in the week with a number of other choirs. A number of members from some of these choirs very kindly came and supported us in the audience and we invited them up to join us at the end of the concert along with my mum on piano which was another special moment.

Following this, we performed an encore of Happy Xmas (War Is Over), led by Two Black Sheep.

Big thanks to Rob Chalmers on guitar, Ian Davies on bass guitar, Ieaun on cajon and the string quartet which featured Wendy Dickinson and Beth Watson on violin, Helen Measures on viola and Vicky Mutch on cello. Our very own Yvonne Sharples presented the concert with aplomb! Finally, a massive thank you to Dionne who did all the organising behind the scenes to create an amazing and memorable event.

The full setlists are below –

First Half

The Luminelles

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band/With A Little Help
Runnin’
Annie’s Song
Empire State Of Mind

Two Black Sheep

Fix You
Tongue Tied
One Day Like This

Over The Water

Don’t Let Waterfalls Go Diggity Mash-Up
Thinking Out Loud
Sweet Dreams/Human/Rhythm Is A Dancer Mash-Up
Kiss From A Rose

Over The Water feat. The Luminelles

Symphony
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Second Half

Over The Water feat. The Luminelles & String Quartet etc

Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth
Carol Of The Bells/Somewhere In My Memory
Silver Bells (Jess lead vocal)
The Christmas Song (Len Solo)
Fairytale Of New York (Amy & Rob lead)
Do You Hear What I Hear
Real Love (Mary lead vocal)
This Christmas
Walking In The Air
Santa’s Coming For Us

Encore: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – with Two Black Sheep

Over The Water are –

Phoebe Adamson
Vicky Burr
Amy Chalmers
Claire Cooper-Shone
Nina Cox
Molly Daniel
Imogen Green
Austin Hewitt
Lauren Heywood
Len Higginson
Jess Hynes
Mark Joynson
Matt Lammin
Mary McCombs
Julie McClean
Charlotte McDonald
Dionne McHugh
Kelly Nsutebu
Jan Ross
Jeroene Saccheri
John Sharples
Yvonne Sharples
Joanne Steel
Ben Turner
Claire Vicars
Alison Williams
Stuart

The Luminelles are –

Carys Barber
Molly Daniel
Imogen Green
Pippa Hall
Robyn Hart
Amy Heywood
Lauren Heywood
Esther Humphries
Jess Hynes
Lucy Jackson
Molly Jackson
Jess Lattin
Kate Lattin
Erin Moxham
Kelly Nsutebu
Grace Osuhor
Zara Phillips
Poppy Smailes
Arden Williams
Mia Wright

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Christmas 2017

As usual, Christmas was a busy time for all the choirs I am involved with! The Luminelles were particularly busy, performing two sets at the Autism Together Christmas Concert at the magnificent Eaton Hall in Cheshire on 13th December…

They then went on to perform in collaboration with Over The Water at the Radio City Christmas Concert at the Anglican Cathedral on 18th December and at Constellations on 23rd December (see separate posts for these two events). In between these two events, they sang in the waiting room at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on Friday 22nd December…

At the beginning of the month, I had the privilege of coaching the one-night-only staff choir at the St John’s Hospice ‘Light Up A Life’ event. The staff were all absolutely lovely and it was so special that they stepped up to perform at their own event.

Wirral Globe article HERE.

As has become tradition, I led a quartet of carol singers in performing at various Botanist venues around the country as well as at the Titanic in Liverpool. This year we visited Liverpool, Chester, Didsbury, Sheffield, Nottingham and Newcastle. The quartet consisted of Izzy Owen, Dionne McHugh, Amy Chalmers and myself, with Jeanette Boyhan filling in for Izzy in Nottingham and Newcastle and Ben Turner filling in for Amy on Christmas Eve at the Titanic in Liverpool and in Alderney Edge.

My final gig of the season came on Christmas Day, performing three festive 45-minute sets at The Titanic Hotel in Stanley Dock, Liverpool.

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