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 –
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
HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING
Speaker: Carole Clare, from Radio City Cash For Kids
Bebington Bitter Men
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
THE FIRST NOWELL
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
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)
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
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)
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