Go West and Paul Young go north for York Barbican double bill next September

Double bill: The tour poster for Go West and Paul Young’s 2020 show at York Barbican

EIGHTIES chart heavyweights Go West and Paul Young will hit the road next year as a double bill that will visit York Barbican on September 13.

Formed in 1982 by Peter Cox and Richard Drummie, Go West scored such hits as We Close Our Eyes, Call Me and Don’t Look Down and were voted Best Newcomer at the 1986 BRIT Awards. In 1990, their song King Of Wishful Thinking featured on the soundtrack for Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s romantic hit.  

After fronting Streetband and Q-Tips, Paul Young went solo, his career taking off with the 1983 album No Parlez and such singles as the chart-topping Wherever I Lay My Hat, Love Of The Common People, Everytime You Go Away and Everything Must Change. He won a BRIT Award for Best Male Vocalist and sung the opening lines on the original 1984 Band Aid single, Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed The World), also performing at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in July 1985.

Young, 63, is a keen chef, biker and fan of all things Mexicana, not least touring with his Tex Mex/Americana band Los Pacaminos.

Tickets for Go West and Paul Young’s co-headline gig are on sale on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.

Loudon Wainwright and some Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers you’ll know to play Pock

Wainwright times three: Loudon Wainwright III with Suzzy Roche and their daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche, playing Pockington next autumn

LOUDON Wainwright III, the North Carolina songwriter, folk musician, humorist and actor, will play Pocklington Arts Centre on October 3 next year.

Tickets will go on sale at 10am on Wednesday (December 11), as indeed they will for Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of authors turned musicians, making their Pock debut on May 30.

Grammy Award-winning Wainwright, 73, will be joined by Suzzy Roche and their daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche at next autumn’s gig, the smallest venue of his 2020 British tour.

They will perform their own songs, complemented by a selection by songwriters they admire, such as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and Baker Knight. 

Over the course of 23 albums of acerbic, wry writing, Wainwright’s songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs, Mose Allison, Big Star, Freakwater, Norma Waterson, [late former wife] Kate and Anna McGarrigle and son Rufus Wainwright.

Arts centre director Janet Farmer says: “Our auditorium is no stranger to welcoming music legends to the stage and Loudon Wainwright III is certainly no exception. We’ve previously welcomed his daughter Martha to Pocklington in August 2013, so we’re delighted to be featuring in Loudon’s forthcoming tour.

“This will be a very rare opportunity to see such a big name from the music world perform within the intimate surroundings of our auditorium.

“But with only a handful of UK dates lined up and Pocklington Arts Centre being the smallest venue, this is likely to sell out fast, so I would recommend you get your tickets as early as possible.”

Three Wainwright albums have been nominated for Grammy awards: 1985’s I’m Alright, 1986’s  More Love Songs and 2009’s High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project, winner of the  Best Traditional Folk Album prize in January 2010. Wainwright also has appeared in such films as The Aviator, Big Fish, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, for which he composed the score with Joe Henry.

Read the riot act: Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers could murder a good tune at Pocklington Arts Centre next May

Meanwhile, prepare for a different form of murder on the dancefloor next spring, committed by fiction supergroup Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers.

Harrogate Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival stalwarts Mark Billingham and Val McDermid, together with Chris Brookmyre, Luca Veste, Doug Johnstone and Stuart Neville, will put down their pens and pick up guitars to “happily murder” much-loved songs by The Clash, Elvis Costello, Hank Williams, The Beatles, Talking Heads, The Jam, Johnny Cash and many others “considering legal action”, apparently.

Between them, the writers have sold more than 20 million books worldwide and won every major crime-writing award. Now they swap page for stage to discover if the sword/axe is mightier than the pen after all.

So far, their set list of killer tunes has survived in tact at Glastonbury Festival, Cornbury Festival and the Edinburgh Festival. Now they must rock in Pock.

“The very concept of crime writers putting their own killer spin on well-known songs is simply brilliant, so we can’t wait to bring them to Pocklington for what promises to be a thrilling night of live music literally like no other,” says Janet Farmer.

Last month, the arts centre played host to a sold-out evening of poetry readings, questions and answers and book signings by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, when Pocklington School students were among the audience.

Tickets cost £44 for Wainwright, £23 for The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Charles Hutchinson

REVIEW: York Symphony Orchestra, December 8

Cellist Cara Berridge: “Displayed beautifully rounded, resonant tone”

York Symphony Orchestra (YSO)/Venn; Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, December 8

YORK Symphony Orchestra’s newish conductor Edward Venn likes to take risks – and with the largest work on Sunday’s menu he was notably successful.

Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony overtly moves from tragedy to triumph. Beneath the surface, it is heavily laced with irony: Stalin’s Great Purge threatened the composer himself. The performance reflected this.

The violins quickly recovered from a tentative opening and thereafter never looked back. The central march accelerated majestically and the change to the major key was nicely controlled, before a chilling close with celeste to the fore. The scherzo provided just the comic relief we needed, Claire Jowett’s solo violin leading the way.

With the brass side-lined, first the strings, then the woodwinds conjured a rapt, almost religious, intensity in the Largo, typified by the trio of harp and two flutes. The finale’s mounting crescendo, with brass back in the fray, kindled anger rather than triumph, despite the brief oasis of calm. It was a splendid achievement, owing much to Venn’s impressive familiarity with the score.

Earlier, as soloist in Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Cara Berridge displayed beautifully rounded, resonant tone. But in a work notorious for its stop-go pitfalls, she and Venn too rarely took the same view of the music. The result was tuneful but episodic, too many trees and not enough wood. The orchestra sustained a respectful diffidence. Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave had made a bold, brash curtain-raiser. But the Shostakovich was something else.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Kate Rusby wants a Holly Head, cheese and… a hippo for her Yorkshire Christmas

Kate Rusby in Holly Head mode for her fifth Christmas album. Picture: David Lindsay

BARNSLEY folk nightingale Kate Rusby has released her fifth album of South Yorkshire carols and original winter songs, Holly Head, so named on account of her love of Christmas music.

As with her fellow festive collections on her Pure Records label, 2008’s Sweet Bells, 2011’s While Mortals Sleep, 2015’s The Frost Is All Over and 2017’s Angels And Men, it is being promoted by a Kate Rusby At Christmas tour with Kate’s regular band and brass quintet.

Songs range from the Rusby original The Holly King, to a cover of John Rox’s novelty Christmas number Hippo For Christmas, via the carols Salute The Morn and Kate’s sixth version of While Shepherds Watched and God’s Own Country variations, Yorkshire Three Ships and Bleak Midwinter (Yorkshire).

Now part way through her 14-date concert series, Kate answers Charles Hutchinson’s questions ahead of Yorkshire Christmas shows at Leeds Town Hall on December 13 and York Barbican on December 18.

Five Christmas albums, Kate. Five! That must surely be a record? What keeps drawing you back to make another recording for the Yule season?

“I know, five albums, how on Earth has that happened?! It’s also album number 18 of mine, which I can’t believe either. Where have all those years gone? I still love making music and touring, so that time has whizzed by in a flash.

“The Christmas side of things began for me in the ‘pub sings’ around South Yorkshire. We were taken along as kids; our parents would be in the main room singing away, while us kids were sat with the other kids in the tap room, colouring and drinking pop, unaware that the carols and Christmas songs were seeping into our brains!”

“I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’,” says Kate. “You know, like car fanatics are petrol heads.” Picture: David Lindsay

What happened next?

“It was only when I’d started touring around the country, I realised the ‘pub sings’ are  quite specific to South Yorkshire and people were unaware of these amazing songs we have.

“They’re mostly songs thrown out of the churches by the Victorians as they were thought to be far too happy! Ha! Those who loved singing them took them to the pubs, where you could combine a good old sing with beer and a natter, and there the songs have remained and kept alive, being passed down the generations.

“I decided to start the Christmas tour to take the songs out around the country to show them off and share them out again. It’s just perfect when we go back to a town again and they’re singing the songs back to us. It brings me such happiness. Like, ‘my work is done here’!”

And the Christmas albums keep coming too…

“There are so many songs still to go at, I’ve no idea how many I’ll end up doing. I am a Holly Head, after all!”

What’s the story behind Hippo For Christmas, the quirkiest song on Holly Head? One for the Rusby daughters, no doubt!

“Aw, it’s such a brilliant song! I came across it while I was researching for the album. I love how it’s the magic of Christmas through the child’s eyes, ‘cos why on Earth would Father Christmas not be able to bring a hippo? He’s magic, right?

“But, of course,, once it’s there, how do you look after it? The brass arrangement on that track is just a delight; you can’t help but smile as they play it. It’s a big tuba moment! They don’t get many moments, tubas, do they? Well, it does on this song!”

While Shepherds Watched is the Christmas carol that keeps giving! Another one has popped up on the new album…

“Well, there’s over 30 different versions of While Shepherds Watched that get sung in the pubs here in South Yorkshire, so I’ve still got a lot to go at! This one is actually to the tune of a different song that I also love, but I wasn’t that keen on the words, then realised it went with the While Shepherds words, so yey, another has now been invented.” 

Holly and the ivy: The album artwork for Kate Rusby’s new winter album

What is a Holly Head exactly, Kate?!

“Ha ha!! Well, I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’. You know, like car fanatics are petrol heads. I thought it was the perfect title for such people, and I’m a fully paid-up member of the Holly Head club! ”

What is the most significant Christmas song on this album for you? One of your own compositions?

“Oooh, am I allowed to choose one of my own? Well, OK,  I will, I’ll choose The Holly King. It celebrates the more pagan side of Christmas. I wrote it after reading about the winter king, The Holly King,  and the summer king, The Ivy King.

“Legend has it that the two met twice a year and had almighty battles. Going into winter, the Holly King would win and reign for the winter months. Then the Ivy King would wake and overthrow the Holly King and reign through the summer months, and on they went in a perfect cycle.

“I just loved the images that it conjured up and a song came flowing out. I gave him a wife, The Queen of Frost, who creeps across the land to be with him for his time. In fact, I’m writing her song at the moment, so she will appear on the next Christmas album, I’m sure!”

How will you be adorning the stage for the 2019 Christmas shows? Maybe a new reindeer?

“Ooh yes, I can’t tell you too much or it won’t be a surprise. What I can confirm, though, is Ruby Reindeer will be taking her place on stage again; it’d be too strange without her now.

“We have a completely new set this year…and there will definitely be sparkles.”

Who is in your Christmas tour line-up this time?

“Ooh, this year we have me, hubby Damien O’Kane on guitars and electric tenor guitars, Duncan Lyall, double bass and Moog; Stevie Byrnes, bouzouki and guitar; Nick Cooke, diatonic accordion and sleigh bells (ha!); Josh Clark, percussion, and our lovely, fabulous brass boys, Rich Evans, Gary Wyatt, Robin Taylor, Mike Levis and Sam Pearce.

“So, 11 of us altogether on stage, and six crew, I think, and of course not forgetting Ruby Reindeer!”

What do you most want for Christmas, Kate? 

“A big lump of Cornish Kern cheese – it won best cheese in the world last year and is just gorgeous – and a bottle of Bread and Butter white wine to go along with it. It’s a big creamy white; just love it.”

Kate Rusby At Christmas, Leeds Town Hall, December 13 and York Barbican, December 18. Box office: Leeds, 0113 376 0318 or at leedstownhall.co.uk/whats-on/; York, 0203 356 5441, yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.

Golden moment: Kate Rusby received the Gold Badge from English Folk Dance & Song Society earlier this month. Picture: David Angel

On a separate note

ON December 4, Kate Rusby received the English Folk Dance & Song Society Gold Badge, in recognition of her 25-year contribution to folk music.

Among past winners were Cecil Sharp in 1923; Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1943; Ewan MacCoIl, 1987; Peggy Seeger, 1987; Shirley Collins, 2003, and Eliza Carthy, 2007.

Congratulations on your Gold Badge, Kate. What does this award mean to you? Just look at the names that have gone before!

“Aw, thank you. Goodness me, I still can’t believe it. It’s just amazing to be considered for this award as it’s recognition of my work from the massive organisation who work to preserve and document folk music and dance.

“I’ve done various gigs at Cecil Sharp House over the years, the building where they’re based in London. One time, they let me use the library as a dressing room and, oh my word, I was like a child in a sweet shop with all the ballad books. In fact, I think I may have been late on stage due to reading the books.

“But, yes, a real honour to be added to the list of Gold Badge winners. My love of the music has kept me entranced all these years, so to be given this award is just incredible.

“It was presented to me at our gig at in Sheffield City Hall, when it was also my [46th] birthday that day; what an amazing birthday present.”

York Symphony Orchestra’s Winter Concert welcomes guest cellist Cara Berridge

Cello soloist: Cara Berridge

CARA Berridge will be the guest soloist for tonight’s performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor. the centrepiece of York Symphony Orchestra’s Winter Concert in York.

Conducted by Edward Venn, the 7.30pm programme at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, also features Tchaikovsky’s March Slave and and Shostakovich’s Symphony No 5 in D Minor.

Tickets cost £15, concessions £13, children and students £5, at yso.org.uk, from orchestra members or on the door.

Frank Turner finds himself in No Man’s Land as York Barbican bow beckons

Frank Turner: bringing history and song-writing together at York Barbican next March

FRANK Turner will turn York Barbican into No Man’s Land on March 8 on the Hampshire folk-punk singer-songwriter’s 2020 tour.

Tickets will go on sale at 10am tomorrow morning on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.

Turner, 37, released his latest album, No Man’s Land, in August, touted as his most original to date with its parade of fascinating characters, such as the woman who invented rock’n’roll, a serial killer from the Deep South, who plucked her victims from lonely hearts pages, and a Wild West vaudeville star shot by a small-town outlaw. 

“It’s bringing together my two main interests in life, which have always been separate from each other: history and song writing,” says Turner, who can be found seeking out long-forgotten historical sites on self-guided psycho-geographical strolls when not touring.

No Man’s Land is dedicated to the women “whose incredible lives have all too often been overlooked by dint of their gender”. “These stories should have been told already,” says Turner of the album and its accompanying podcast series. “And I suspect if they were men, they would be better known.” 

A couple of names here will be familiar, in the form of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Sister Rosetta and the mysterious Mata Hari in Eye Of The Day, but other women who feature have long been ignored by the mainstream.

Turner was inundated with crowdsourcing suggestions when seeking more names. “I know a lot of very smart people who sent me these huge lists of historically interesting women,” he says, after he ended up researching hundreds, seriously expanding the size of his home library in the process. “It felt a bit like going back to school, but it was so much fun.”

The women featured on the album’s 13 tracks come from across wide geographical and historical lines, whether Byzantine princess Kassiani in The Hymn Of Kassiani; Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha’arawi in The Lioness, or Resusci Anne, an apocryphal drowned virgin whose face was used as the model for the medicinal CPR mannequin across the world. 

“You can’t resist writing a song about a woman who died never having been kissed and then became the most kissed face in history,” reasons Turner. 

No Man’s Land boast perhaps the most revelatory song of Turner’s career. Written in tribute to his mother, Rosemary Jane honours her grit and determination through the harder parts of his childhood. “It’s quite a raw song,” he admits, adding that he felt compelled to ask permission from his mother and sisters to include the track. “But it’s nice about her. It’s not necessarily nice about my dad.”

Turner, by the way, will be making his York Barbican debut at next March’s gig.

Charles Hutchinson

Britten and America unite for The Ebor Singers’ transatlantic Christmas concert

Not exactly dressed for winter! The Ebor Singers nevertheless will be in the mood for Christmas at the NCEM on December 15

LOOK forward to “a whole new world of carols” when The Ebor Singers present the British premiere of American Christmas choral works alongside Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols on December 15.

The York choir’s ever-popular candlelit Christmas concert always features Britten’s festive favourite from 1942, this time complemented by modern compositions from the United States at the National Centre for Early Music, York, at 7.30pm.

“Benjamin Britten was particularly drawn to Christmas,” says Paul Gameson, the choir’s director, introducing Britten’s masterpiece, scored for three-part treble chorus, solo voices and harp.

“Britten spent three years in North America at the beginning of the Second World War, and he composed A Ceremony of Carolsduring the long and dangerous transatlantic crossing back to Britain in 1942.”

How apt, then, to present Britten’s work alongside Christmas music from the USA. “We’ve had a lot of enjoyment putting this together”, says Paul. “As well as pieces now considered popular mainstays of the repertoire, by Lauridsen and Whitacre, we’ve been exploring sacred pieces by Jake Runestad, Nico Muhly and Stephen Paulus.

“Runestad’s writing in Sleep Little Baby, Sleephas an American folk-song quality, and Paulus’s exploration of the sonority of choir with accompaniment of oboe and harp is every bit as imaginative as Britten. 

“Muhly is one of today’s most imaginative choral composers, and his Whispered And Revealed,a setting of Longfellow’s poem Snowflakes,is quite breath-taking, within three minutes magically conjuring up images of snow covering a winter landscape.

“So, we’re delighted to be giving some of this music its UK premiere. Then throw in some classic seasonal jingles and some choral ‘mash-ups’ and you have a seasonal concert quite unlike anything else you will have heard, guaranteed to bring you Christmas cheer.”

Tickets for Britten, A Ceremony of Carols, By Candlelight cost £15, concessions £12, students £5, at eborsingers.org/currentevents or on the door.

Charles Hutchinson

The funniest Nativity play in York this Christmas? Head to Flint Street

Florence Poskitt: Making her York Stage Musicals debut as Gabriel, the angel who covets the role of Mary in The Flint Street Nativity. Picture: Kirkpatrick Photography

YORK Stage Musicals will bring an alternative festive offering to York this Christmas for the first time, staging The Flint Street Nativity at the John Cooper Studio @41Monkgate from December 12 to 22.

Tim Firth’s story was first performed as a television drama on ITV in 1999 with a cast featuring York actor Mark Addy, Frank Skinner, Neil Morrissey and Jane Horrocks.

Firth, the Frodsham-born writer of Neville’s Island, All Quiet On The Preston Front, Calendar Girls and the Madness musical Our House, then re-worked it for the Liverpool Playhouse stage premiere in 2006.

Firth’s show follows “Mizzis Horrocks’s” class of seven year olds as they prepare to perform their Nativity play at Flint Street Junior School for the proud mums and dads – and the occasional social worker.

Squabbles arise when Angel Gabriel wants to play Mary; the Star grumbles he isn’t a proper star like they have at NASA; Herod won’t stop waving to his parents and the subversive Innkeeper is determined to liven up the traditional script. Then the class stick insect escapes.

Leading the ensemble company as the ambitious Angel Gabriel will be blossoming York actress and comedienne Florence Poskitt, making her York Stage debut alongside Fiona Baistow in the coveted role of Mary. Look out too for YSM debutant Conor Wilkinson, playing both Herod and Joseph.

The York Stage Musicals’ show poster for The Flint Street Nativity

Here, Charles Hutchinson asks York Stage Musicals artistic director Nik Briggs to come forth on Firth by answering a Christmas sack-load of questions.

What made you choose this Tim Firth piece as your debut Christmas production?

“York is the ultimate Christmas destination, and many people ask us each year what we’re staging at Christmas but it hasn’t been something we’ve ventured into before. But then Jim Welsman [chairman at the time] asked us if we’d be interested in bringing a Christmas offering to 41 Monkgate, so I jumped at the chance and knew what show would be the perfect choice.

“I was looking for one that really would provide the city with an alternative theatrical offering. It needed to be a show that suited York Stage and the 41Monkgate venue. Flint Street was the perfect choice. It’s not saccharine; it’s fun, energetic and a tad off the wall.

“So, come join us as we alter your perspective on not only the art and politics of the humble Nativity, but the John Cooper Studio as a whole!”

What makes The Flint Street Nativity so humorous?

“This festive play really is one of the funniest observations I’ve come across based on the Christmas holidays. Everyone knows the traditions surrounding the institution of the school Nativity, tea towels tied to the head and tinsel-clad Angels everywhere, but Tim Firth has created a brilliant script, set in the build-up to the much-anticipated show filled with laughs and pathos in an oversized classroom where adults play the children in Mrs Horrocks’s class.”

What do you most enjoy about Tim Firth’s writing?

“The detail in the observation of the people he writes about is just brilliant; it really is all on the page. Like in Calendar Girls, you can relate to and recognise the characters. The seven year olds just come to life through the writing.

“I work with children of this age quite regularly and, as I read the script, I could see the children he was talking about and describing. It seems far-fetched to some, but it really isn’t! Then, the twist in the final scenes and his ability to inject just the right amount of pathos into a riotous comedy is what clinches it for me.”

What are the particular challenges of this piece for director and cast?

“The key to the whole show, for me, comes in getting the final part of the show just right, when – spoiler alert! – the actors who’ve been playing the children throughout then turn to play the respective parents and we see what’s made the children the way they are.

“It’s been fairly easy to work on the scenes with the brilliant actors where they’re playing around and having lots of fun playing the seven year olds, but actually getting that to tie in with the adults is where the magic is, so we started the rehearsals with the adult scenes and got to know them before we then worked on creating their children, as it’s the adults who nurture.”

What is Tim Firth’s Christmas message?

“The final line in the play is ‘I’m in a Nativity. Yeah, it’s great…really brings it home’, and I think that sums it up. In the fast-paced world we live in, the simplest, purest things can really make you slow down and take stock.”

Assistant director Jonny Holbek with Florence Poskitt’s despondent Angel Gabriel

What are your recollections of Nativity plays when you were nobbut a lad?

“Absolute terror! Every year, I’d come in from school and tell my mother that I’d been cast as a lead role in the show. Every year, she’d then have to go in and tell that year’s teacher that they should be prepared that come the day of the show, I’d just cry and refuse to go on as I suffered from crippling stage fright!

“They would assure her I’d been fine in class rehearsing and that I was doing brilliantly with it. Then every year she’d turn up and sit in the hall expectantly, to be hauled out by the teacher and informed I was having a meltdown. This happened every year until I was ten!”

Why are Nativity plays still important?

“Purity! It’s plain and simple to see in any Nativity the purity in the children and the performances they give. Sadly, it’s not a quality we always see in society and on stage nowadays. so let’s cling on to it in Nativity plays! 

What have been your highlights of the York Stage Musicals year in 2019?

“2019 really has been a dream. We had the opportunity to produce a classic musical in The Sound Of Music; have worked on new writing with Twilight Robbery; created magic with our acclaimed youth production of Disney’s Aladdin, but I think the cherry on the top has to be Shrek The Musical at the Grand Opera House in September.

“The buzz around the production, from auditions through to the closing night, were just electric. The reviews and comments were just sensational. It really did raise our bar yet again and will really be a cherished production for us for a very long time.”

What’s coming next for York Stage Musicals?

“We have a bit of a bumper year planned already actually. An Eighties’ classic, a York premiere, a birthday celebration and what is set to be possibly the biggest and messiest youth show the city has ever seen!

“We start in February with Robert Haring’s Steel Magnolias at 41 Monkgate. We then head across town to the Grand Opera House with a brand-new production of Bugsy Malone in April.

Chris Knight’s perennially enthusiastic Donkey in York Stage Musicals’ “monster hit”, Shrek The Musical, at the Grand Opera House, York, in September

“Then it’s a return to Monkgate in May to present the York premiere of Sondheim On Sondheim to mark Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday [on March 22 2020].

“We’re still firming up plans for our big autumn show, but things are looking exciting, and we’ll again end the year back at 41 Monkgate with another Christmas alternative!” 

And finally, Nik, what would be your Christmas Day message to the nation?

“People of the United Kingdom, it seems that the country truly is in the… No, in all seriousness, we are in a transition, whether we want to be or not.

“In times of transition and change, we have to really look out for each other as not everyone will move at the same pace or be able to keep up. Stay genuine and be kind to those around us and trust that love will always win. 

“Sadly nowadays, there are too many people in the world who like to over-promise and oversell themselves for personal gain. This can only lead to disappointment as we can see everywhere. “Know yourself, know your limits, don’t compare yourself to others and work hard to run your own race. Celebrate successes briefly, remain humble and learn from your mistakes.”

York Stage Musicals present The Flint Street Nativity, John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, York, December 12 to 22, 7.30pm except Sundays at 6pm. Box office: 01904 623568, at yorkstagemusicals.com or in person from the York Theatre Royal box office.

Creative Team

Director and designer: Nik Briggs 

Assistant director: Jonny Holbek 

Musical director: Jessica Douglas


Mary: Fiona Baistow 

Wise Gold: Verity Carr

Star: Matthew Clarke

Wise Frankincense: Jack Hooper 

Angel: Louise Leaf 

Innkeeper: Paul Mason 

Angel Gabriel: Florence Poskitt

Narrator: Andrew Roberts 

Shepherd: Chloe Shipley

Herod/Joseph: Conor Wilkinson 

York Musical Society to perform serious and fun Christmas concert

Soprano soloist: Kasia Slawski

YORK Musical Society’s Christmas Concert will be held at St Lawrence Parish  Church, Lawrence Street, York, on December 14.

In a family-friendly programme ranging from the fun to the serious, the YMS chorus of 100-plus singers will perform choruses from Handel’s Messiah, joined by soprano soloist Kasia Slawski, from Leeds.

She has many York connections, having gained a BSc in accounting and an MA in music from the University of York, where she sang in the University Choir and Chamber Choir, performing as a soloist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Handel’s Israel In Egypt and Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers.

Kasia also sang with the Yorkshire Bach Choir and was a choral scholar at St Wilfrid’s, York, as well as at Leeds Cathedral from 2002 to 2012. She continues to sing in and around York while working as an accountant, proving she is good with notes all round.

The audience can join in with the choir and brass quintet for some carols, along with enjoying the choir’s rendition of several carols, both more and less familiar.  

In a first for YMS, Richard Shephard’s Mass for the Nativitywill be performed by a solo quartet drawn from the choir. The piece has strong York links: until earlier this year, Richard Shephard was YMS’s associate conductor and he is a former headmaster of the Minster School.

YMS will be conducted by John Bradbury, while David Pipe will accompany the choir on the organ and play solo pieces too.

York Brass Quintet will add to the 4pm festivities, playing seasonal favourites with an ensemble of two trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba.

St Lawrence Parish Church, by the way, is York’s largest parish church, a fully heated Victorian building whose spire can be seen for miles around. Any profits from the concert, plus the retiring collection, will be donated to church funds. Tea and cake will be available in the parish room afterwards, again in aid of church funds.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk, in person from the Theatre Royal box office or on the door, priced at £10 for adults; £5, students and children over 12; free, children under 12, when accompanied by a paying adult. All seats are unreserved.

Charles Hutchinson

They sing again, you win again, in Bee Gees’ tribute show at Grand Opera House

The Bee Gees’ hits are Stayin’ Alive in the tribute show You Win Again

YOU Win Again celebrates the music of the Bee Gees in tonight’s tribute concert at the Grand Opera House, York.

Direct from London’s West End, the 7.30pm show takes a journey through Maurice, Barry and Robin Gibb’s music from the Sixties, through the Seventies and Eighties, including hits they wrote for Celine Dion, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross and Dolly Parton.

This “fabulous authentic production” takes in such Bee Gees’ highs as Night Fever; Stayin’ Alive; More Than A Woman; You Should Be Dancing; How Deep Is Your Love?; Jive Talkin’;Tragedy; Massachusetts; Words; I’ve Got To Get A Message To You; Too Much Heaven; Islands In The Stream; Grease; If I Can’t Have You and many more. Not least the chart-topping 1987 title song, You Win Again.

Tickets are on sale from £25.15 on 0844 871 3024, at atgtickets.com/york or on the door.