Chichester concert offers free entry for Ukrainians and other displaced people

Chichester’s St Richard Singers are kicking off the year on 21 January with an unorthodox Christmas concert, offering free entry for Ukrainians and other displaced people.

The idea came about in this “City of Sanctuary” (Chichester) when we were thinking of our new Cicestrians (residents of Chichester) from Ukraine. We decided to postpone our usual Christmas performance to fall nearer the Orthodox celebrations and include Ukrainian melodies in the programme and offer free entry to recently displaced people now settled in our area.

Fortunately for the singers, only one of them is in the original language which has been quite a challenge, though the melody has become a little bit of a theme tune since the invasion last February. In England, this piece is known as the Carols of the Bells and is associated with Christmas. The original is about a swallow, a migratory bird, whose arrival announces the new year according to the Julian calendar used by the orthodox church. It is a playful tune that gives hope for the future. The other Ukrainian melodies are more soulful, and in your mind’s eye you can see the wintry landscape and enormous rivers winding their way through this vast country.

But we will kick off our Jazz-themed concert with three carols by contemporary composer Will Todd. The tunes are familiar, yet they are given an interesting new twist. The same is true of the centrepiece of this performance which is by another contemporary composer. The Little Jazz Mass by Bob Chilcott will be accompanied spectacularly by drums. We are not expecting the audience to rush to the dance floor or tapping their feet, but we cannot discount the possibility. We certainly had an interesting time at rehearsals.

Interspersed with these main works are compositions for organ played by our very own Director of Music, Sachin Gunga, whose main job is as Sub Organist at Portsmouth Cathedral, and medieval choral tunes and more modern pieces which are associated with the Christmas season.

Our Christmas trees may have come down, but the season officially only comes to an end at the beginning of February with Candlemas, so we are well in time!

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