Christmas with a Community Choir

December 15, 2017 - By 

There’s something very special about a community choir Christmas concert.

There’s always a wealth of material to use with carols old and new, loads of great Christmas pop songs, some classical gems that have a christmassy feel, and our normal repertoire.

On Saturday 2 December, I led the Milton Keynes Community Choir in their Christmas concert, and fantastic fun it was too.

We always have local guest musicians to fill out the programme and provide variety. Plus there’s the annual raffle with some big hampers as prizes and the prospect of raising a decent amount for a local charity.

There is a lot of competition for venues in Milton Keynes. The venue is a decent theatre with very raked seating so the audience get a good view. The acoustic, though, is very dry and not very rewarding to sing in  – we have to go for it and trust that the hard work in rehearsals and at home will pay off!

Milton Keynes Community Choir are in their ninth year, and we have had some really great times together. Concerts are a celebration of community and family, and are always a good mixture of serious and fun, a cappella and accompanied pieces with our fabulous pianist Ian Riley. He is a brilliant jazz player so its nice to be able to book bass and drums so we can authentically sing suitable stuff in that style.

This year one of the highlights was God Rest You Merry Gentlemen mashed up with Brubeck’s Take 5. We also delved deeper into classical territory than we normally do with Va Pensiero from Verdi’s Nabucco (been working on that all year!) and Bach’s Jesu Joy.

Our guest slot was filled with local a capella group Jinx who do a wonderful Only You. We learned their version of Carol of the Bells, and they in turn joined us for our finale All I Want For Christmas Is You. Fairytale of New York also got an outing, rude words and all sung with gusto! 

Here at ChoirCommunity we have loads of Christmas arrangements already lined up for next year which we aim to make available in the summer, in time for you to plan your christmas music!  If you signed up for email alerts you will be notified as soon as anything gets added to the list of music, and we will be featuring new arrangers in 2018. 

What Christmas songs would you like to perform next year, at your own Christmas concert? We’d love to know. Post a comment below and share your ideas.

Photograph of Craig McLeish & the Milton Keynes Community Choir by Karen Kodish

  • Your concert sounds like it was a huge success! We had ours on Saturday 16th and raised £1300 for the YoungMinds charity which we thought was amazing! We are lucky that we can use Oakham School Chapel which has fabulous acoustics which makes such a change from our acoustically challenging school hall we rehearse in.
    I’m already thinking about repertoire for next Christmas and I’d really like to perform traditional carols in non traditional arrangements. Any of that kind of thing would be brilliant!

  • Thanks Tracy – I am always amazed at how much Community Choirs raise with their raffles and fund raising. MK always give a good amount to a local charity and someone comes and gives a little talk. Let me know which carols you might like for next year and we’ll get writing – new tunes for old words always breathes life into the story – I heard a tune for The Holly and the Ivy in the pub the other day I’d never heard..we love doing the John Gardiner one – what were your highlights this year?

  • Our Big Christmas Sing Concert at St. Alban’s Church, Swaythling raised £550 for Christian Aid (and this is going to be doubled by the UK government – hurrah!). We are a community gospel choir so we sing various gospel carols, also lots of African carols, but I am always on the lookout for more. At our Big Christmas Sing we were joined by the Sheriff of Southampton (non-performing!), Parkewood School of Dance, 2 children’s choirs, and the St. Alban’s community choir, which was put together especially for the night. Fun songs were Carol of the Bells (with bells!) and Patapan (done with the children playing drumsticks and doing a dance routine).

    • Thanks Penny, this strengthens my belief in Community Choirs as a force for good – Funds raised for charities at the 3 concerts so far reported here total over £3000! Multiply this over the whole country and the mind boggles. We definitely have some gospel type songs ready to go in January with more on the way (Wade In The Water, Swing Low, I’m Gonna Lift My Brother Up, Freedom Is Coming) so I am interested to find out if they’re the sort of thing you need.

  • Hi Craig
    It was indeed “The most wonderful time of the year” for raising money for charity in the weeks before Christmas. I couldn’t tell you how many times I led “O Come all ye Faithful” and “Winter Wonderland” (amongst many others) in a variety of settings, including churches, schools, a warehouse, village halls, office, shopping centre & care homes! They do say variety is the spice of life!! In the run up to Christmas 2017 I even managed not to come down with some dreaded cough or cold that does tend to make life difficult in this line of work!

    I’ve enjoyed using your arrangements over the years and look forward to browsing through them some more online before choosing which ones to use this year. Happy New Year!

    • Hi David and great to see you here!
      hope you find what you are looking for – let us know if you have ideas that aren’t here
      and we’ll see what we can do…hope to see you around MK sometime soon..

      Happy New Year!


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