York Community Choir Festival on song to celebrate friendship and harmony in March

Stagecoach Academy Senior Choir: taking part in the fifth York Community Choir Festival. Picture: Michael Oakes

THE fifth York Community Choir Festival will raise the roof at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from March 7 to 14

This annual event “celebrates the inclusivity of making music in groups of all ages and friendship across the generations” by bringing people together to share the joy of singing in seven concerts, each featuring at least four different choirs.

“Choirs will be coming from Easingwold in the north, Garrowby and Stamford Bridge in the east and Knaresborough and Tadcaster in the west and south, as well as from York itself,” says festival organiser Graham Mitchell, the JoRo’s company secretary, fundraising and events director and trustee. 

York charity Musical Connections combats loneliness and isolation in older people by running regular music sessions in community locations across York, and their 40-strong pensioners’ choir, The Rolling Tones,will be taking part for the first time.

Performing too will be choirs from Wigginton Primary School, Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy,the secondary-age choir of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, and the “younger” adults of Dunnington Community Choir in a special matinee on March 14.

Another group of primary-school age, appropriately named Starlings, from the Hempland area of York, will sing in the Friday (March 13) concert. Secondary school-age choirs taking part will be Tutti Amici and Stagecoach Academy Choir, who have both excelled in previous festivals, and two Huntington School choirs will appear for the first time.

Dunnington Community Choir: emotion in motion in the joy of singing. Picture: Michael Oakes

York singer and tutor Jessa Liversidge, who runs her Singing For All sessions every week in Clements Hall, South Bank, York, and in Easingwold, says: “Many singers who attend my groups testify that their lives have been transformed by our weekly sessions of informal singing, tea, cake and good company.

“Looking around the room at the happy faces and seeing everyone leave afterwards with a spring in their step is evidence enough for me of the wonderful power of a good old sing.”

York has workplaces with choirs that employers encourage as being good for morale, among them Aviva’s Vivace! Choir and York Hospital’s Wellbeing Choir, which combines staff, volunteers and patients in one lively group in weekly sessions. Vivace! will open the festival and the hospital choir will appear on the last night.

Graham says: “I’m particularly pleased that we can include both young and old and bring the generations together in the same concerts. The benefits of singing have been widely researched and findings show that communal singing has far-reaching benefits for health, happiness and general wellbeing.

“We’re so lucky to have such a variety of choirs in and around York, most of which welcome new members with open arms. No need to be able to read music; just a desire to join in and sing!”

Concerts will take place on March 7, 11, 12, 13 and 14 at 7.30pm; March 8, 4pm, and March 14, 2pm. The full list of who will be singing when can be found at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935, via josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or in person from the JoRo box office in Haxby Road, with savings if buying five or more tickets. All proceeds will be donated to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre charity to help to maintain and improve facilities at this community venue.