Chapter House Choir to premiere Andrew Carter carol at Saturday’s Carols By Candlelight. Dr Alvan White tribute too

The Chapter House Choir, with director Benjamin Morris in the foreground

CHAPTER House Choir’s Carols By Candlelight concert returns to York Minster on Saturday night.

Directed by Benjamin Morris, the choir will be joined in the nave by the Chapter House Youth Choir, directed by Charlie Gower-Smith, the choir’s Handbell Ringers and York organist William Campbell for a feast of festive music, combining familiar carols with new and exciting compositions.

The 7.30pm programme with no interval includes the premiere of Jesus Christ The Apple Tree, a carol composed specially for the choir this year by distinguished founder Andrew Carter.

Andrew Carter: Premiere of new carol Jesus Christ The Apple Tree

The 90-minute concert will be dedicated to the memory of Dr Alvan White, the choir’s Candlelighter-in-Chief for these concerts from 2003 to 2018. He died in August 2022, having suffered for some years with Lewy body disease.

To mark his long and happy association with the choir, the collection at the end will be in aid of the Lewy Body Society, the British specialist charity that raises awareness and funds research into this poorly understood and often misdiagnosed disease.

Dr White’s daughter, choir member Rachel Hicks, says: “When we needed someone to light the candles for our concerts almost 20 years ago, I knew this would be the perfect job for my Dad.

Dr Alvan White, who died in August, undertaking his Candlelighter-in-Chief duties, a post he held for the Chapter House Choir from 2003 to 2018

“He was a retired chemistry lecturer, who had learned the skill of glassblowing to mend lab equipment, so my childhood memories of visiting him at work were of him working with fire!

“Who better to come to the Minster and light hundreds of candles for our concerts? Dad loved classical music, so this was an ideal combination. As a family, we are honoured that his contribution to the life of the choir is being recognised in this way and that we can support further research into what we know, first-hand, to be a challenging and complex condition.”

Jacqueline Cannon, the Lewy Body Society’s chief executive, adds: “We are very grateful to the Chapter House Choir for the opportunity to raise awareness of Lewy body dementia. There are around 130,000 people living with the disease in the UK, yet it is often described as the most common disease you’ve never heard of.

Donations at the Chapter House Choir’s Carols by Candlelight concert will be given to the Lewy Body Society, in memory of the late Dr Alvan White

“Through our research programme, we support studies that help us to better understand, diagnose and treat the disease, and to date we have funded more than £2 million in grants. The donations made at the concert will help us to continue this work, as well as providing specialist information and support to families, like Alvan’s, who are affected by the disease.”

Tickets are available at: Doors open at 6.45pm.

Did you know?

The Chapter House Choir first performed Carols by Candlelight in York Minster in 1965, when the choir was formed to raise funds for the York Minster Appeal.