The Ebor Singers to celebrate Christmas with Handel and Britten carols at St Olave’s

The Ebor Singers: Christmas concert at St Olave’s Church

THE Ebor Singers serve up a double festive treat of Part One of Handel’s Messiah and Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols in A Christmas Celebration in York on Sunday, December 18.

This is the second of the York choir’s Christmas concerts, wherein the 7.30pm programme will be performed in the intimate surroundings of St Olave’s Church, Marygate.

The choir will be joined by a string quartet and organist Keith Wright for Handel’s work; harpist Rachel Dent for Britten’s carols. Solos will be taken on by choir members.

“Part One of Handel’s Messiah takes us from prophecy to the birth of Jesus, and Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols takes up the story of the nativity,” says musical director Paul Gameson. “Although 200 years separate these two works, they both speak with similar directness and freshness.

“Handel draws on the most popular musical genres of the day for his Messiah: part-German passion, part-Italian opera, part-English anthem. Britten followed a trend of his contemporaries, exploring medieval poetry, but his music – scored for female voices and harp – established the new quintessential ‘sound’ of Christmas music.

A Christmas Celebration also showcases pieces from The Ebor Singers’ new album of American Christmas music, Wishes And Candles.

Tickets (£15, concessions £12, students aged 16 plus £7, children free) are available from or on the door.

The Ebor Singers mark release of American Christmas album Wishes And Candles with candlelit concert at St Lawrence’s Church

The Ebor Singers: Two Christmas concerts in York

PAUL Gameson directs The Ebor Singers tonight in an evening of beautiful choral arrangements for Christmastide at St Lawrence Parish Church, Lawrence Street, York.

The 7.30pm concert, A Christmas Celebration By Candlelight, also marks the launch of the York choir’s CD recording of Christmas music by contemporary American composers, Wishes And Candles.

Pieces from the disc, featuring works by Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre, Dan Forrest, Abbie Bettinis and Matthew Culloton, will be complemented by festive compositions by John Rutter and Bob Chilcott.

“We’re looking forward to sharing music from our new album,” says Paul. “It took two years to put this together, thanks to a two-year Covid-enforced hiatus between recording sessions, so it was particularly enjoyable completing this in April this year.

“Music by Lauridsen and Whitacre is featured, but so too are other composers whose names and music deserve to be more widely known, such as Forrest, Bettinis and Culloton. There’ll also be some audience-participation carol singing, so bring your voices too!”

Tickets (£15, concessions £12, students £7 (16 plus), children free) are on sale at or on the door.

A Christmas Celebration is the first of two Christmas concerts in York for the choir, who will perform Part 1 of Handel’s Messiah (featuring the Christmas story) and Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols on Sunday, December 18 at 7.30pm  at St Olave’s Church, Marygate. Tickets:

More Things To Do in York and beyond, from an Old Granny Goose to Grayson. Hutch’s List No. 108, courtesy of The Press

Goose by the Ouse: Dame Berwick Kaler, centre, with Martin Barrass, left, AJ Powell, Suzy Cooper and David Leonard, gathering again at the Grand Opera House, York, for The Adventures Of Old Mother Goose. Picture: David Harrison

KALER on the loose, Christmas music, art and crafts and a stellar trio on the horizon have Charles Hutchinson hopping between diaries

Berwick’s back: The Adventures Of Old Granny Goose, Grand Opera House, York, December 10 to January 8

THE script is complete, as of 6am on Thursday morning, for writer, director and perennial York dame Berwick Kaler’s second year at his adopted panto home, presented in tandem with the Grand Opera House’s new partners in pantomime, UK Productions.

At 76, expect a greater emphasis on the verbal jousting from Dame Berwick, but still with slapstick aplenty in the familiar company of sidekick Martin Barrass, villain David Leonard, principal gal Suzy Cooper, luverly Brummie AJ Powell and ever-game dancer Jake Lindsay in his tenth Kaler panto, me babbies, me bairns. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or

Angel With Gift, linocut print by Anita Klein, part of The Christmas Collection at Pyramid Gallery, York

Exhibition launch of the week: The Christmas Collection at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, today until January 12, open daily

YORK ceramicist Ben Arnup opens The Christmas Collection, the last exhibition of Pyramid Gallery’s 40th anniversary celebrations, at midday today.  He will be exhibiting 12 new trompe l’oeil ceramic sculptures too.

Gallery curator Terry Brett has invited London printmaker Anita Kelin to fill the walls with 15 large linocut original prints and two paintings in her 28th year of showing her depictions of family life at Pyramid. Exhibiting too will be printmaker Mychael Barratt, sculptors Christine Pike and Jennie McCall, ceramicist Katie Braida and glassmakers Rachel Elliott, Alison Vincent, Keith Cummings and David Reekie, plus 50 jewellery makers.

Sara Davies: Crafty ideas for Christmas at York Barbican

Return to York of the week: Craft Your Christmas with Sara Davies, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

DRAGONS’ Den entrepreneur Sara Davies, who founded her Crafter’s Companion company in 2005 while studying at the University of York, offers practical demonstrations, creative ideas and a healthy slice of down-to-earth know-how.

Taking you from gifts to garlands, cards to crackers, via a peek into the Den and a sprinkling of Strictly Come Dancing sparkle, Sara will help you to create your own unique handmade Christmas. Box office:

The Ebor Singers: Christmas music from America and Britain at St Lawrence Parish Church

Christmas concert of the week: The Ebor Singers, A Christmas Celebration By Candlelight, St Lawrence Parish Church, Lawrence Street, York, tonight, 7.30pm

PAUL Gameson directs The Ebor Singers in an evening of beautiful choral arrangements for Christmastide that also marks the launch of the York choir’s CD recording of Christmas music by contemporary American composers, Wishes And Candles.

Pieces from the disc, featuring works by Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre,  Dan Forrest, Abbie Bettinis and Matthew Culloton, will be complemented by festive compositions by John Rutter and Bob Chilcott. Expect audience participation in carol singing too. Tickets: and on the door.

Russell Watson and Aled Jones

Festive musical duo of the week: Aled Jones and Russell Watson, Christmas With Aled & Russell York Barbican, Tuesday, 8pm

ALED Jones and Russell Watson are reuniting for Christmas 2022, combining a new album and tour. Performing together again after a three-year hiatus, the classical singers will be promoting their November 4 release of Christmas With Aled And Russell. 

The album features new recordings of traditional carols such as O Holy Night, O Little Town Of Bethlehem and In The Bleak Midwinter, alongside festive favourites White Christmas, It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Little Drummer Boy and Mistletoe And Wine, complemented by a duet rendition of Walking In The Air. Box office:

York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust cast members in rehearsal for A Nativity for York. Picture: John Saunders

Nativity play of the week: York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust in A Nativity for York, Spurriergate Centre, Spurriergate, York, Thursday, Friday, 7.30pm; Saturday, Sunday, 3pm, 5pm and 7.30pm

A NATIVITY for York returns to the Spurriergate Centre following a two-year enforced break, staged by York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust (YMPST). After directing the Last Judgement plays  on the city streets in 2018 and 2022, Alan Heaven has created a fresh, vibrant and magical retelling of the Nativity, combining “music, dance, sorrows and joys and some audience participation”.

Heaven’s company of actors, dancers and musicians is drawn from a wide range of community volunteers, in keeping with the YMPST productions of A Nativity for York in 2019 and A Resurrection for York in 2021. Tickets: 01904 623568, at or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.

Solomon’s Knot: Christmas Cantatas at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, in York Early Music Christmas Festival 2022’s concluding concert

Festival of the week: York Early Music Christmas Festival, mainly at NCEM, Walmgate, December 8 to 16; online box set, December 19 to January 31

MUSIC, minstrels, merriment, mulled wine and mince pies combine in York Early Music Christmas Festival 2022, to be complemented by an online box set of festival highlights post-festival.

Taking part will be La Palatine (Fiesta Galante); Ensemble Augelletti (Pick A Card!); Solomon’s Knot (Johann Kuhnau’s Christmas Cantatas); Spiritato and The Marion Consort (Inspiring Bach); Ensemble Moliere (Good Soup);  Bojan Čičić (Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas); The Orlando Consort (Adieu) and Yorkshire Bach Choir & Yorkshire Baroque Soloists (Handel’s Brockes Passion). Box office: 01904 658338 or

Guitarist Tom Bennett and baritone Sam Hird, outside their training ground, the Royal College of Music. On Friday, they perform a Christmas recital in York

Homecoming of the week: Sam Hird and Tom Bennett, A Winter Night’s Recital, All Saints’ Church, North Street, York, Friday, 7pm to 9pm

YORK baritone Sam Hird and his fellow Royal College of Music graduate, guitarist Tom Bennett, perfrom classical songs from around the world, by Schubert, Faure and Britten, complemented by festive favourites such as Adeste Fideles, O Holy Night and A Cradle In Bethlehem to stir the Christmas spirit.

The 15th century All Saints’ Church will be the “perfect backdrop” to this candlelit concert, Hird’s professional solo debut. A glass of mulled wine and a mince pie is included in the ticket price of £10 plus booking fee, available from and on the door.

Big jumpers, big songs: Alistair Griffin presents The Big Christmas Concert, St Michael le Belfrey Church, York, December 9, 10 and 17, 8pm; doors, 7.30pm

Alistair Griffin: Christmas hits

BILLED as “the biggest Christmas concert in York”, singer-songwriter Alistair Griffin’s winter warmer returns with classic Christmas tunes, carols and bags of festive cheer, heralded by a brass band.

The Big Christmas Concert takes a festive musical journey from acoustic versions of traditional carols to Wizzard, Slade and The Pogues, as audiences sing along and sip mulled wine while enjoying the fairytale of old York. Christmas jumpers and Christmas attire are encouraged; a prize will be given for the best costume. Box office:

One way or another, you’re gonna get ya ticket for Blondie at Scarborough Open Air Theatre next summer

Booking ahead: Blondie, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 22 2023

LOWER East Side New York trailblazers Blondie are off to the East Coast next summer to play Britain’s largest outdoor concert arena.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icons will be led as ever by pioneering frontwoman/songwriter Debbie Harry, 77, guitarist/conceptual mastermind Chris Stein and powerhouse drummer Clem Burke, joined by former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, guitarist Tommy Kessler and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen.

Blondie join Sting, Pulp, rock supergroup Hollywood Vampires, N-Dubz, Olly Murs and Mamma Mia! among Scarborough OAT’s 2023 headliners, with plenty more to be added. Box office:

The Waterboys: 40th anniversary celebrations in 2023, taking in York Barbican

Booking ahead too: The Waterboys, York Barbican, October 12 2023, 7.30pm

GREAT, Scott will be back for yet another evening with The Waterboys at York Barbican, this time to mark the Scottish-founded folk, rock, soul and blues band’s 40th anniversary.

Mike Scott, 63, has made a habit of playing the Barbican, laying on the “Big Music” in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015,  2018 and October 2021, since when The Waterboys have released 15th studio album All Souls Hill in May. Box office:

Grayson Perry: A Show All About You…and surely about him too at Harrogate Convention Centre?

A brush with an artist: Grayson Perry: A Show All About You, Harrogate Convention Centre, October 1 2023, 7.30pm

ARTIST, iconoclast and TV presenter Grayson Perry follows up A Show For Normal People with A Show All About You, wherein he asks, “What makes you, you?”. Is there a part deep inside  that no-one understands? Have you found your tribe or are you a unique human being? Or is it more complicated than that?

Perry, “white, male, heterosexual, able bodied, English, southerner, baby boomer and member of the establishment”, takes a mischievous look at the nature of identity, promising to make you laugh, shudder, and reassess who you really are. Box office: 01423 502116 or

Also recommended but sold out: The Cure, The Lost World Tour 2022, Leeds First Direct Arena, Tuesday, doors, 6pm

ROBERT Smith’s ever-changing band play Leeds for the first time since September 21 1985 at the whatever-happened-to-the Queens Hall. Expect a long, long set of all the heavenly, hippy pop hits, the gloomier goth stalwarts and more than a glimpse of the long-promised 14th studio album, Songs Of A Lost World, pencilled in for 2023.

The Ebor Singers wish you a merry Christmas…on Saturday. Here’s why…

Rachel Jerome: Harp soloist for The Ebor Singers’ concert on Saturday

MERRY Christmas from The Ebor Singers. In February? Yes, on Saturday, when the festive spirit will be breaking out at St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York.

Let the York choir’s director, Paul Gameson, explain. “When we were first able to perform together late last year, it was to prepare for our regular Christmas concert of Britten’s A Ceremony Of Carols for choir and harp, but amid choir illness and rising Covid-19 cases in York, the performance was cancelled.

“Nevertheless, we have chosen this piece for our return to singing in public, our first concert since March 2020. While Britten’s work is synonymous with Christmas, a closer look at the texts suggests a more medieval interpretation of the word ‘carol’.”

Derived from the Old French word carole, it refers to a round of dancers, singing and holding hands. “Carols were not limited to Christmas and were not necessarily religious!” says Paul. “Britten’s work traces the story of Jesus’s birth from the Annunciation through to the Nativity and early childhood.

“So, nestled as it is between Christmas and Lent, this February performance celebrates the joy of Christ’s birth while anticipating his Passion, with music by Chilcott, Stopford, Howells and Holst alongside Britten. As this is our first public concert for two years, a little festive joy feels much needed!”

The Ebor Singers will be joined by harpist Rachel Jerome for the 7.30pm concert, billed as “A Rose in the Middle of Winter”. Tickets (£12, concessions £10, under-16s free) are on sale at and on the door.

The present Government Covid-guidance will apply, but The Ebor Singers also suggest that audience members wear masks.

Who won the National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award last night?

On screen: National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award winners Eilidh Owen and Finton O’Hare, with their fellow competitors on Zoom , at last night’s live-streamed final

FINTON O’Hare and Eilidh Owen have won the National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award prizes in York.

O’Hare emerged as the victor in the 19 to 25 age group, Owen likewise in the 18 and under category, at last night’s final live-streamed from the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate.

Presented in association with BBC Radio 3, the 13th iteration of the NCEM award invited young composers living in the UK to create a new polyphonic work for unaccompanied choir, setting either the Our Father (Pater Noster) prayer from St Matthew’s Gospel or the first and last verses of George Herbert’s poem The Flower.  

The eight finalists’ compositions were performed by York musicians Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble, the consort of the Ebor Singers.

Seeking the prize in the 18 to 25 final were Fintan O’Hare’s composition Come Passing Rain, Noah Bray’s Our Father, Sam Gooderham’s Late-Past, Caitlin Harrison’s The Flower and James Mitchell’s The Lord’s Prayer.

Competing for the 18 years and under award were Eilidh Owen’s As If There Were No Such Cold Thing, Ethan Lieber’s The Flower and Emily Pedersen’s Pater Noster.

The evening also featured performances of works by Owain Park and Alexander Campkin, winners in 2010 when Owain took home the 18 and under prize. Both have  become well established composers, providing good examples and inspiration for the 2020 entrants. Music by Alec Roth and Ben Parry was performed too.

“This year has been very different, moving the final and the workshop online, but we’re sure that the composers enjoyed this exciting experience,” said NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin

Last night’s final followed a day-long online workshop from the NCEM, where composer Christopher Fox, professor of music at Brunel University, and Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble were joined virtually by the young composers. 

The 2020 panel of judges were BBC Radio 3 producer Les Pratt, The Tallis Scholars’ director, Peter Phillips, and NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin.

Reflecting on the 2020 competition, played out against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, Delma said: “The NCEM Young Composers Award continues to attract composers of the highest calibre from all over the UK.

“This year has been very different, moving the final and the workshop online, but we’re sure that the composers enjoyed this exciting experience. We’re looking forward to the concert at the Cadogan Hall next year with the wonderful Tallis Scholars performing the winning pieces.”

Next March’s London premiere of O’Hare and Owen’s compositions will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

Delma concluded: “Congratulations to our talented young composers and a special thank-you to the Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble, who helped make the award possible. I’d also like to say a big thank-you to my fellow judges and, last but not least, BBC Radio 3 for their invaluable support

“We look forward to meeting in person for the 2021 award. Details will be announced on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show on November 29.”

Last night’s live-streamed performance can be viewed at