The weeks leading up to our Christmas celebrations can only be described as intense. We already try to cram a ridiculous amount into a very short space of time, and illness, changes of rehearsal venues, new uniforms, new members and a whole new youth choir to rehearse meant the ten weeks seemed to fly by. Before we knew it, we were at Henshaw’s, preparing to preview our set, along with half of the youth choir. As always, the evening lifted our spirits, and at the Thatch for drinks we realised we were down to just one remaining ticket- 349 sold in advance, a record!
Christmas jumper tech was the usual crazy affair then finally the evening we’d all been waiting for. Sevently or so adult choir members were joined by twenty or so very excited ReFresh Youth Choir and a packed church, all ready to raise the roof with some beautiful Christmas music. Joy to the World started the evening, and then choir and audience took a moment to remember Simon who had done such an amazing job the previous year. Phil Marshall then opened in prayer for us, dressed as a sprout! The audience were again invited to join us for the Cornish Sans Day Carol, then Liz came and read from Luke, followed by the women singing the hauntingly beautiful Breath of Heaven, accompanied by scenes from the film The Nativity Story. Then it was time for the youth choir to join us along with specially invited members of the audience (under the age of sixteen!) to sing Away in a Manger. David then read to us from Isaiah, and the choir sang Rutter’s lovely Nativity Carol. The ReFreshers then joined us again this time to perform the first of their two numbers- Who Would Imagine a King- with lots of lovely solos and small groups. The adults and children united in song for Chilcott’s breathaking For Him All Stars Have Shone, followed by a clip from Polar Express to kick off a series of songs about the bells of Christmas. Carol of the Bells and the slow waltz of Silver Bells were followed by another clip from Polar express then the audience and ReFreshers joined us again for Ding Dong Merrily and their second number, Jingle Bell Rock, complete with funky moves which closed the first half.
Teas, coffees and mince pies were served in record numbers and time, and the second half began with a mix up of costumes- the boys were in Hawaiian shirts, the girls were dressed for skiing! All became clear when the boys set off to California beaches with Little St Nick, then the whole choir headed off to the ski resort for Wham’s Last Christmas. ReFresh Youth Choir joined us again just in time to collect the snowballs which had been flying in the previous number, and we all sang Good King Wenceslas- audience too. It was really Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, until Reflect managed to lower the tone with their fairly graphically violent 12 Days After Christmas, then Sarah’s poem took us to lights down and the peaceful strains of A Christmas Blessing as the closing sequence began. The snow began to fall as the evocative Silent as a Snowflake began, and Have Yourself a Merry Christmas led peacefully to Hark the Herald, as the audience joined in to lift the rood on the final carol. A closing prayer led to thoughts of a peaceful reflective organ closing, but that was soon ditched in favour of Slade, as the whole church wished each other Merry Christmas, Everybody! And we all disappeared out into the December air, ready to begin the festive season with songs in our hearts.
Our main Christmas event was very late this year, on the 22nd of December which made Sarah very happy as she likes it very close to Christmas! We decided as Peter and Felicity had moved on from Leyland Road it would be a good time for us to move churches too, so we approached the newly installed Simon Glynn at St John’s in Burscough where we held our first ever Celebrate nine years previously. We were delighted to be returning, and looked forward to the evening, but first we had a few more sings to get under our belts!
In order to raise money for our 10 for 10 appeal, a group of ladies went carol singing around a few venues in Ormskirk, delighting the customers and staff everywhere they went. This will be the first of many busking outings in the New Year as we aim to raise £ 10,000 for our tenth birthday! We then took our Celebrate to Henshaw’s, as usual, followed by a quick drink at the Thatch. Saturday saw a first for the choir- a Christmas matinee for the homes. Thanks to Cathy’s patience and perseverance the residents and staff of around ten local care homes came out to the Civic on a chilly, damp day to join us in some carols and a cup of tea. We were made up to have Josh back with us as he made the journey up the M6 to do our sound. Sunday saw an elite group of us at the Tanner in Skelmersdale, singing carols with the locals and enjoying a fairly fierce chicken curry. Then finally the school concerts, Christmas jumper tech and all the prep was over, and we met at the Church along with our biggest ever sell out audience of three hundred and fifty people to sing and celebrate.
Mark kicked things off with the evocative Wonderful Christmastime, and Simon welcomed us all to the church as we launched into the journey to Bethlehem, interspersed with readings from Jan, David and Liz. The audience joined us for Once in Royal David’s City, and we followed it with Cliff’s Little Town and the boys singing about the night When love was Born. Ding Dong Merrily on High kept the audience on their toes, and the beautiful new Will Todd carol, My Lord Has Come saw Reflect arriving at the Stable. The ladies described the scene on that Not so Silent Night and again the audience joined us for the traditional Sussex Carol. Finally the Muppets It Feels like Christmas heralded the tea and mince pie break, thanks to Jan, Liz and their team, along with a raffle organised by Fran and a collection of our requested ten coins!
The second half started with a Mean Old Mr Grinch stealing candy canes from two very sweet young ladies, as the men really told him what they thought of him. Reflect followed this with a modern take on the art of Christmas communication, Text Me Merry Christmas. Cowboy hats appeared in the choir and the audience as we started our Cowboy Collection with Sweet Chiming Christmas Bells, followed by the Autry classic (Elvis version) of Here Comes Santa Claus. Sleigh Ride Jingle Bells got us all on our horses, horses, horses, horses, complete with an awe inspiring yodel from Bill, and Little Donkey saw the choir joined by many of the children in the audience to sing with us. Sargeant’s spectacular arrangement of The Cowboy Carol rounded off the Stetsons and spurs as the choir lowered their hats for the closing sequence. A new poem by Sarah led us reflectively into candlelight and the beautiful and complex weaving voices of Chilcott’s The Shephed’s Carol, followed by the perfect and magical O Holy Night, sung by Harry Geldart backed by the choir, as the snow fell on the wall behind.
All that remained was for the audience to join us in Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and we rounded off a perfect evening by wishing everyone A Merry Christmas! A wonderful and joyful night was had by all, and we’re so grateful so many of our friends and family came to share it with us. Roll on next year!
The early date of this year’s Celebrate meant we all felt the pressure of learning the songs in a shorter space of time than usual. Our earlier gigs proved to be a fantastic dress rehearsal- firstly the Silver Tea Party at Leyland Road, which was followed by us staying to prepare our rucksacks for the Rucksack project that we supported in lieu of giving Christmas cards, then the wonderful complete run through at Henshaw’s a few days later. Henshaw’s was really full, though of course we still outnumbered them! But they loved singing along and joined in every song with gusto, even heckling a few along the way!
After a Christmas Jumper Tech Rehearsal, the night finally dawned. Almost two hundred and fifty audience members, our biggest so far, gathered in the beautiful church to join with us in celebrating Christmas. The choir started the evening with the evocative Do You Hear What I Hear, summoning us all to visit the child in the manger, and setting the tone for a first half centred on the Nativity story. After a welcome and prayer from Peter Knight, the congregation joined us for O Come All Ye Faithful. A reading from 1 John by Jan set the scene for a group of songs about love- Thou Who Wast Rich, which became something of an anthem for the choir, focusing as it does on the simplicity of the Christmas story without the tinsel and glitz; Reflect’s The Power of Love in a fresh arrangement written by Sarah, and the spine tingling No Eye Had Seen by Amy Grant and Martin Smith. David’s reading from Matthew 1 led the boys into the beautiful Joseph’s Lullaby, accompanied by photos of themselves as fathers, grandfathers and uncles, reducing half the audience to tears! The mood took a distinct turn with the cheerful See Him Lying- performed by children of the choir members, accompanied by the audience with their home made shakers- it sounded fantastic! Our final reading should have been the story of the Magi but somehow got skipped… so the choir took us through Cornelius’ haunting Three Kings, solo sung by Sarah, and on to Shaun’s arrangement of the powerful A Spaceman Came Travelling. A very medieval version of Good King Wenceslas saw the audience choose their role as either the King or the Paige, and then the first half was rounded off with Rutter’s challenging and exciting Deck the Halls.
Mince Pies and hot drinks skilfully provided by Jan and her team restored the audience before the second half began with the boys recreating East 17’s classic Stay, complete with hoodies, bling, shades and attitude! A romp through our Christmas favourites began with Shaun’s fantastic arrangement of It’s the Most Wonderful Time, followed by a walk in a Winter Wonderland and a slightly sunnier Mele Kalikimaka, with of course the glockenspiel solo and the kazoo instrumental. Liz’s stray reading from the first half slotted in nicely before the lively I Saw Three Ships, with the audience joining us on the echoes. Then Reflect took things distinctly downhill with a (deliberately!) chaotic performance of Richard Gregory’s Twelve Days of Christmas, complete with jumbled up music and warring singers! Sarah’s poem A Christmas Wrap calmed things down again as we headed in to the beautiful and peaceful closing sequence, starting with a hummed verse of silent night in a gently lit church, and the choir lit their candles as the song came to a close, allowing the lights to be taken down and the snow to start gently falling for In the Bleak Midwinter, complete with two beautiful solos by Jan and Rafe. Rutter’s The Lord Bless You took the voices to soaring heights, as the choir sang to their lovely audience, wishing them peace and joy for the coming year. Our final carol of Hark the Herald brought us all back down to earth as the audience joined in with gusto, and the evening was rounded off with a bless, thanks, and the wonderfully cheesy Feliz Navidad, as we danced off into the night.
Once again we had an amazing time. As Felicity and Peter will be leaving to go to pastures new, we don’t know where next year’s Celebrate will be, but we have had such a fantastic time in all our years at Leyland, and we’ve loved every minute of it. Thank you to everyone who makes the event possible. And Merry Christmas to you all!
The beautiful Leyland Road Methodist Church was once again the setting for Celebrate, our Christmas musical extravaganza. After the traditional run through the previous week at Henshaw’s, and the tech rehearsal the night before, the choir met early at the church to prepare for the evening ahead.
Mark kicked things off with Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime, and we encouraged the audience to join us with a lightening rendition of Ding Dong Merrily on High. The choir kept the pace going with Carol of the Bells, then our first reading slowed things down to take us to our first challenge- Tavener’s The Lamb. Unlike anything we’d tackled before, the choir had had to work incredibly hard to grasp the complex harmonies, and the control they showed created an amazing, spine tingling sound. Eleanor was our guest pianist for our next congregation carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and then the choir launched into the vibrant and dramatic Mary, Did You Know? Once again the congregation were invited to join us in an older carol, A Virgin Most Pure, and the boys followed that with the beautiful Drummer Boy as performed by Bing and Bowie. Sweet Chiming Christmas Bells was a lively version of While Shepherd’s Watched, joined once again by the congregation, then the first half was rounded off by a new version of Midnight Clear, composed and arranged by our own Sarah!
After an invigorating cup of tea and mince pie, the choir set the tone of the second half with Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas, followed by an lively and audience participatory version of Go Tell it on the Mountain, complete with actions! The concert nearly ground to a halt during the explanation of the actions as Sarah fell off the podium block, but after a few tense minutes she clambered back up and carried on with a smile. Reflect took over next with a cheeky rendition of Santa Baby, and the boys led us with a bit of Shaky- Merry Christmas Everyone! The tricky and complex It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas was followed by the lights being dimmed for a closing sequence, Reflect singing Shaun’s beautiful arrangement of Let it Snow, leading to the snow lights falling on the back wall, and the choir lighting their candles for a moving rendition of A Christmas Blessing. Hark the Herald was the final rousing carol, and a blessing was followed by I’ll be Home for Christmas, and the choir came down in to the audience as Iain lead us in to an amazing Bagpipe rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Holding hands across the audience, we all sang our hearts out, and the evening closed with several Irish Reels and Jigs played by Rafe and the musicians. As usual, it was the perfect start to the Christmas period, and we all left with songs in our hearts and goodwill for our fellow men!
So there we are again, another evening of magical musical mayhem done and dusted.
It seems that each Christmas gig gets better and better- the music is more beautiful, more challenging, more fun… the setting more theatrical and atmospheric, and the final touches, the kazoos, the glockenspiels, the saxophones, the awesome harp and the snow more dramatic. Only the entire Salvation Army band will top it next year!
Henshaw’s was once again the week before the main event and really lifted everyone’s spirits as songs which had proved challenging started to come together and sound beautiful! Choir and residents enjoyed every minute.
On the night, the choir started the evening from up near the rooftop, singing Joy to the World, along with the hundred and eighty strong audience. As Peter Knight, Leyland Road Methodist Church’s minister, welcomed everyone the choir headed down the steps to their places. Reflect then regaled us with their classic Winter Wonderland, followed by a beautiful solo by Cheryl, 2000 Miles.
Eleanor took her place at the harp to accompany the choir in the evocative What Sweeter Music, followed by Brittan’s challenging This Little Babe sung by the ladies. Continuing the precious Baby theme, the choir sang a beautiful arrangement of Away in a Manger to Camsey’s haunting melody and then the especially Christmas-sy When a Child is Born, featuring solos from the gorgeous Harriet and the equally gorgeous Tony! O Come All Ye Faithful got the audience on their feet, before the boys showed off their hard work with Stop the Cavalry. The first half was rounded off by a lively rendition of the Wizzard classic I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day, accompanied by Sarah on the sax!
Mince pies and cups of tea provided a welcome break before the choir kicked things off again with a Hawaiian greeting, Mele Kalikimaka, featuring an exceptional glockenspiel solo by Rafe, and an amazing kazoo instrumental section! The audience worked off their mince pies with See Amid the Winter’s Snow, before Eleanor treated us to the spine tingly beautiful Impromptu Caprice by Gabriel Pierné, listened to by a breathless audience. The girls performed the cheerful Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day with a gorgeous solo by Sarah Hepke, and then the boys regaled us again with White Christmas. By now the audience had found their voices and were happy to join in the second time through! Reflect taught us the Christmas Alphabet and managed to (mostly) get it in the right order, then Sarah read us a poem of her own composition, A Certain Sort of Peacefulness, to get us in the mood for the closing songs… a hushed Silent Night culminated in darkness falling, the choir lighting their faces and beautiful snow falling on the back of the church as Mark’s pure tones carried us through Silent as a Snowflake in to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Hark the Herald broke the quiet and lifted us all to higher heights, and all that was left was a blessing from Peter and the thanks to Sarah and the choir. The choir treated us to just one more… Santa Claus is Coming… and with a smile we were on our way into the cold December night, with a spring in our step and a warm glow in our hearts. Roll on next year!
Henshaws was early this year, a full week and a day before the concert. It was no less Christmassy for that though, and really set the choir up into concert mode, ready for the big event. A few of us hit the Tanner afterwards to sing carols for the locals, an event which managed to be both incongruous and moving all at the same time. A bit like a baby in a manger, I suppose.
The main event itself came after a week of singing- tech rehearsal on the Monday, choir on the Wednesday. The weather was terrible as usual, but with rain rather than snow, so we sang to a relatively packed church, a fantastic achievement given that had double the number of tickets to sell.
The choir did themselves proud, rattling through numbers like Do You See What I See? and The Star Carol, alongside the challenging A Spotless Rose. The young voices Wondered as they Wandered, complete with violin solo, and the first half was brought to a close with Ormskirk Ukulele club playing a couple of carols then uniting with choir and congregation for Jingle the Red Nosed Sleigh Ride, a fun romp through several Christmas Classics.
During the interval we all learned more about the fantastic Birchwood Centre while we enjoyed our mulled wine and mince pies, and everyone bought lots of raffle tickets to support them.
The second half kicked off with It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, followed by Reflect performing Sting’s Soul Cakes and the young voices again taking the stage to sing Winter Wonderland. The audience were invited to choose their roles, page or monarch for Good King Wenceslas, then the choir introduced a little Scrooge to the proceedings, leading in to the Muppet’s It Feels Like Christmas. This was the cue for the final congregational, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and the choir wished us A Merry Christmas before we were all back out into the cold.
Once again it was a fantastic evening, raising a great deal of money for our charity and putting everyone in the mood for Christmas. If you would like to know how much was raised please come to the Karaoke night where we will be presenting the cheque to the Birchwood Centre! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the evening such a success.
This year sees a change of venue for our magical ‘Celebrate’ evening of music. The choir, and the audience, have outgrown the gorgeous St Elizabeth’s in Scarisbrick, so we have moved to their sister church, the beautiful St Anne’s Catholic Church. The evening will be the same mix of old and new, sacred and secular, and we are looking forward to welcoming Ormskirk Ukulele Club to play for a couple of the songs. Mince pies and mulled wine will complete the Christmas spirit!
As always, the profit (after costs have been covered) will go to our local Charity of the Year which, this year, is the Birchwood Centre in Skelmersdale. You can find out more information about this charity here.
Tickets are £4 for adults, £2 for children, and are on sale now.
Email resoundchoir at hotmail dot co dot uk, or call Jan on oh seven seven five two 877489
We’re looking forward to welcoming you for a wonderful evening!
The main Celebrate event took place at St Elizabeth’s on 15th December. The snow teased us again the week before, but then stayed away for the actual evening, meaning everyone could actually get there! The tickets went on preview sale to the choir the night before general sale to the public, and we sold every single one bar six. Mark then went down to the church and counted again- by making people sit a bit more cosily with each other, we managed to put another fifty on sale, ensuring we didn’t have a very disappointed village!
Karl once again set up the most incredible lighting, washing the walls of the old church in beautiful hues of pink and green. The choir’s set reflected the best of old and new Christmas music- from the incredibly sacred ‘O Sing to God’ and ‘O Holy Night’ to the more light hearted ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone’ and ‘Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. The congregation again joined forces for several carols, and the young voices had their first outing without the choir under the new guidance of Sarah Hepke, stealing the show with their performance of ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee’ and ‘I’m a Believer’. Alison Tupling again spoke movingly about the work of West Lancs Positive Living, encouraging people to buy more raffle tickets whilst enjoying their mulled wine and mince pies in the interval, before the (short) raffle saw three lucky people win beautiful hampers of Christmas goodies, and the evening was rounded off with a rousing rendition of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ followed by ‘Here we Come A-Wassailling’, leaving strains of love and joy ringing in the ears of all who were there.
A few days later on 21st, we were very proud to take the set to Henshaws– to be singing carols with that group only four days before Christmas was vey moving, and a privilege to share with them.
The choir were deeply suspicious when once again, a week before this year’s Celebrate! was planned at St Elizabeth’s, the heavens opened and the whole of West Lancashire was covered with a foot or two of snow! I had warned them I wanted snow again, they just didn’t believe I would manage it!
The weather reduced the attendance slightly, so that despite selling every single ticket within a week of them going on sale, the church wasn’t quite full, but this didn’t stop the enjoyment of the event for anyone. The choir began proceedings in the choir loft at the back of the church, with the strains of ‘Joy to the World’ drifting over the congregation and the new addition of the beautiful lighting provided by friend-of-the-choir Carl, the scene was set for another wonderful evening of music and merriment.
New additions ‘The Shepherd’s Farewell’ and ‘The Ragtime Carol’ nestled happily alongside the old favourites of ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Blue Christmas’, and the children shone in the ‘Zither Carol’. The event was rounded off with a rousing (and VERY fast!) version of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ before we sent everyone back out into the snow!
On 22nd December 2009 we repeated the magic of Celebrate! at St Elizabeth’s Church in Scarisbrick. A snow adorned, packed house listened to some of the favourites from last year, with selected additions, including ‘Star Carol’ and Darke’s ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. The icy conditions made travelling treacherous, but added to the seasonal atmosphere of the late date, and the enormous amount raised for Children in Need was the icing on a very Christmassy cake!
In December 2008, ReSound Community Choir took part in a charity event entitled Celebrate!
Along with a supporting cast of hundreds, the event was a musical celebration of all things Christmas. Traditional Carols took their place alongside more modern classics- Elvis, Paul McCartney and the Andrews Sisters. Helping to create that authentic Christmas atmosphere were four part harmony songs like Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and White Christmas, and choral classics- O Holy Night, and The Candlelight Carol.
The first of the two events took place at St John’s Church in Burscough. The beautiful setting, accompanied by mulled wine and mince pies, ensured that the hundreds of people who attended experienced a real sense of Christmas.
The participants repeated the whole experience a few days later, although on a much smaller scale, when they performed the concert at Henshaw’s Society For The Blind in Southport. It was lovely to bring the music and Christmas cheer into that setting, and both residents and staff immensely enjoyed the event.
Keep a look out for Christmas 2009 for details of the events ReSound Community Choir will be taking part in.
If you would like to book the ReSound Community Choir to sing for your charity, please contact us.
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