Brass & Voices - Sat 16 Oct 2021 at 7:30 pm

Venue: Blackburn Cathedral

Pandemic hold-ups can’t stop the music!

Singers and brass band players will join forces in a hospice fund-raiser postponed for more than 18 months because of the Covid pandemic.

A planned “Brass and Voices” concert featuring two of England’s oldest male voice choirs, Colne Orpheus and Nelson Arion, along with the 2nd Rossendale Scout Band, will go ahead at last at Blackburn Cathedral on Saturday October 16.

The two East Lancashire men’s choirs were founder members of the National Association of Choirs in 1920, and three years ago the organisation invited them to celebrate its centenary conference in March 2020, choosing the Dunkenhalgh Hotel at Clayton-le-Moors as the venue.

Covid-19 struck just a few weeks before the event, which had to be repeatedly postponed as choirs and bands nationwide waited to see when lockdown restrictions would be lifted.

Some other local choirs had been invited to take part, but dropped out due to worries over Covid.
Now the men’s choirs and band are back in rehearsal at last, and hope audiences will grab the chance to hear live music again, in aid of the East Lancashire Hospice at Blackburn.

“We’d been on tenterhooks for months, waiting for the Government to decide on when choirs would be allowed to rehearse face-to-face again,” said Orpheus former chairman Eric Beardsworth, one of the organisers.

“Singing is a major part of life for thousands of people in the UK, but all the pleas to the Government from choirs and their national organisations seemed to be literally falling on deaf ears.

“Now our choirs are raring to go again, and we’re thrilled to be joined by the band and its superb young musicians.”

The Orpheus – full name Colne Orpheus Glee Union – was founded in 1886 and Nelson Arion followed in 1887. Along with 10 other mens' choirs, they helped to form the NAC at its inaugural meeting in Todmorden in 1920, with the aim of promoting choral music.

Today the NAC has 750 member choirs with more than 40,000 singing members. Delegates from all over the country will be attending the centenary conference and concert.

The 2nd Rossendale Scout Band was formed in 1963 as a drum and trumpet band, and developed into an accomplished brass band, performing with some of Britain’s top brass bands and appearing at venues ranging from Windsor Castle to Cologne Cathedral.

Leanne Green, Fundraising and Lottery Lead at East Lancashire hospice, added: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the charity to benefit from this event, which is set to be a fantastic evening of music.

“The pandemic has affected so many of us in different ways, and as a charity we have suffered massively from the closure of our retail shops, furniture warehouse, Café Retreat and cancellation of events. But we have had such amazing support from the community.

“Rewind over 18 months ago and the NAC were ready to host an evening of Brass and Voices to raise money for their local hospice. It feels great knowing this event is still going ahead and we cannot wait to be part of it.”

The concert is supported by the Pendle Young Musicians Bursary and Ecotect Fire Suppression, Rossendale.

The programme will offer a mixture of music, ranging from male voice evergreens to modern show tunes, and brass band showpieces and crowd-pleasers.
Tickets at £10, £1 for accompanied age 16 and under, are on sale from: East Lancashire Hospice; Scout headquarters in Burnley Road, Bacup; Leedams Pharmacy, Keighley Road, Colne. Inquiries: 01282 867152.

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National Association of Choirs