BBC award winner Naomi Simon to perform at York Community Choir Festival finale

BBC Young Chorister of the Year Award winner Naomi Simon: Singing at the York Community Choir Festival on March 11

NAOMI Simon, 2022 winner of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year Award, has agreed to sing at her home city’s Community Choir Festival on March 11 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

Naomi, 16, was a chorister at York Minster before taking up a scholarship at Rugby School to pursue her love of music. She is the daughter of JoRo Theatre patron Frances Simon, a speech and drama coach in York.

Joining Naomi will be a fellow BBC finalist, soprano-singing Bootham School pupil Sam Brophy. Each will sing solos before they perform a duet together.

From the age of seven, Sam has sung in choirs across the country, and now that his family lives in York, he sings in the York Minster Choir. Last December, he was the soprano soloist for Walking In The Air at the York Minster performance of Carrot Productions’ The Snowman.

York Community Choir Festival was started by JoRo trustee Graham Mitchell seven years ago. From small beginnings, the event has grown to a format of 33 choirs of all ages and singing styles performing in eight concerts over seven days.

“In a little coup for the event, the organising group is absolutely thrilled that Naomi and Sam are able to perform a short set for us on the final Saturday of the week-long festival,” says Graham, the Jo Ro’s community engagement director.

“Naomi’s performance in the BBC live final displayed a wonderful maturity and understanding of the carol that she chose to sing, Mary, Did You Know?, which wowed the three judges.

“Naomi has a busy schedule and we’re extremely fortunate that she can be in York when the festival is on. The festival itself is a celebration of music making regardless of age, ability or genre.

“Any choir based in the York area can apply to join in. This year, in addition to the vast range of adult choirs, we’ll have two primary school choirs performing in different concerts and about 100 pupils from Huntington School will sing in four different choirs run by the school – all on the Thursday night alongside three adult choirs. “

Graham adds: “The variety of song, genre and singing styles is absolutely marvellous and there’ll be no repetition in any concert. To confirm the variety of music on offer, on the night Naomi and Sam will be singing, we’ll have the York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir, ladies’ close harmony group Track 29, the mixed voices of The Celebration Singers and Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy.”

“The whole world of music will be on stage with at least four choirs performing in every concert. Show tunes, pop, folk, world music, classical, gospel, close harmony, blues and jazz will all feature.

“From primary school choirs to young adult choirs, adult choirs to pensioner-only choirs, singing in male, female or mixed voice choirs, the festival is a celebration of how people come together to make music and have fun.

“Pensioners choir The Rolling Tones and York Wellbeing Choir, for example, are both aimed at enjoyment and combating loneliness.” 

Tickets for this fundraising event for the JoRo Theatre’s Raise The Roof appeal are available at £6 to £10 at or on 01904 501935 during opening hours.

“The festival is a celebration of how people come together to make music and have fun,” says organiser Graham Mitchell

Who is singing and when at the York Community Choir Festival

Sunday, March 5, 5pm

  • The Lakesiders Children’s Choir
  • The Rock Choir
  • Community Chorus
  • Singphonia

Monday, March 6, 7.30pm

  • Euphonics
  • Tadcaster Community Choir
  • The Abbey Belles
  • Supersingers

Tuesday, March 7, 7.30pm

  • The Daytones
  • Jubilate    
  • Dunnington Community Choir
  • Main Street Sound

Wednesday, March 8, 7.30pm

  • Sounds Fun Singers
  • In Harmony
  • Garrowby Singers
  • Community Singers with Jessa

Thursday, March 9, 7.30pm

  • Huntington School Choirs
  • Spirit of Harmony
  • Acomb Community Choir
  • York Military Wives Choir

Friday, March 10, 7.30pm

  • Aviva Vivace!
  • York Wellbeing Choir
  • York Phoenix Harmonies
  • Bishopthorpe Community Choir

Saturday, March 11, 2.30pm

  • Headlands School Choir
  • The Elysian Singers
  • Eboraca    
  • The Rolling Tones    

Saturday, March 11, 7.30pm

  • York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir
  • Track 29 
  • The Celebration Singers
  • Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy
  • Guest soloists Naomi Simon and Sam Brophy

York Community Choir Festival on song for concert week at Joseph Rowntree Theatre

The Rolling Tones: Performing at York Community Choir Festival on March 5

EIGHT shows, with a different line-up every time, make up the York Community Choir Festival 2022, York’s celebration of choral music from Sunday to March 5.

Taking part will be three primary school choirs (Osbaldwick, Robert Wilkinson and Headlands), Huntington Secondary School gents and ladies’ choirs and 30 adult choirs.

Despite there being close to 200 song choices, in only one concert will the same song be sung by two choirs, in very different styles. Each concert ends with everyone singing I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing. Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935 or at

The concert line-ups:

Sunday, 4pm

Jubilate, ladies’ choir; Community Chorus, mixed voices; Chechelele, world music a cappella; Singphonia, Don Pears’ new choir.

Monday, 7.30pm

Garrowby Singers, mixed voices; Tadcaster Community Choir, mixed; The Chorus Crew, male shanties and folk song from Harrogate area; Main Street Sound Ladies Barbershop Chorus, ladies’ barbershop.

Tuesday, 7.30pm

Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus, ladies’ chorus; In Harmony, mixed voices; The Daytones Harmony Chorus, male barbershop, from Clifford; Dunnington Community Choir, mixed voices.

Wednesday, 7.30pm

Sounds Fun Singers, ladies’ choir; York Celebration Singers, mixed voices; Euphonics, ladies’ choir; Stamford Bridge Community Choir, mixed voices.

Thursday, 7.30pm

York Military Wives Choir, ladies’ choir; York Hospital Wellbeing Choir, mixed choir; Easingwold Community Singers, mixed choir; Spirit Of Harmony, male barbershop.

Friday, 7.30pm

Eboraca; Huntington School Choirs; Acomb Community Choir, mixed; York Phoenix Harmonies.

Saturday, March 5, 2.30 pm

Osbaldwick Primary School; Headlands Primary School; The Rolling Tones, seniors’ choir; Three Crown Sound; York Musical Theatre Company.

Saturday, March 5, 7:30 pm
The Abbey Belles, ladies’ choir; Bishopthorpe Community Choir, mixed choir; York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir; Supersingers, mixed choir; Robert Wilkinson Primary School Choir.

Gus, the theatre cat, takes up residence on Joseph Rowntree Theatre frontage to add to York Cat Trail 13/4/2022

Paws for thought: Who’s that climbing the Joseph Rowntree Theatre wall? Meet Gus, the Theatre Cat

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre has joined the York Cat Trail with the arrival of Gus, the Theatre Cat, on the Art Deco building’s handsome frontage in Haxby Road, York.

Inspiration for the new addition came from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats and T. S. Eliot’s original poems about the Jellicle Cats in Old Possum’s Book Of Cat, whereupon Gus was commissioned from York wood sculptor Jonathan Newdick.

Stan Young, author of The Mystery Cats of York, said: “The Joseph Rowntree Theatre is a very iconic building in York. Not only was it created by the Rowntree family and company, but it’s also York’s only Art Deco theatre. The theatre board made a great decision, leading to Jonathan making the cat!” Gus was duly welcomed to his new home by York’s Town Crier, Ben Fry, in an official ceremony in April.

Theatre trustee and community engagement director Graham Mitchell said: “My colleague Keith Barnes came up with the idea of adding Gus to our frontage as an extra interest for theatregoers, especially the younger ones. We may be a mile away from the nearest York Mystery Cat on Goodramgate, but we hope that people will visit us in the Rowntree/Nestle Conservation Area.

“The Rowntree Society have many Rowntree-related walks that can be found on their website, as well as handy walk guides. The theatre also offers theatre tours – in person and online – for interested groups.”