The annual Christmas concert by the Overgate Hospice Choir is the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

This year’s gala event on Saturday, December 19, at Halifax Minster , promises big sounds from the 80-strong choir together with the famous Hammonds Saltaire Brass Band.

World-renowned cornet soloist Phillip McCann is to be the special guest, with his rendition of John Rutter’s Candlelight Carol one of the highlights of the evening.

This is an exciting time for the choir, which will be entering its 25th year in 2016 and draws members from Huddersfield, Elland and Brighouse as well as Halifax.

During those years, in addition to entertaining music lovers it has raised a staggering £269,600 for the hospice.

“We do four concerts a year,” says choir secretary Carol Armitage,” and Christmas is our big one. But next year we’ll be having an anniversary concert in October to celebrate our 25th.”

Hammonds Saltaire Brass Band will also perform
Hammonds Saltaire Brass Band will also perform

The choir was founded in 1991 so Elland-based Overgate Hospice could be represented in a National Voices for Hospices event. The project led to 113 simultaneous performances of Haydn’s Creation across the country. Overgate’s own performance in Halifax Parish Church, now Halifax Minster, attracted an audience of around 600 and raised over £3,000. More than 100 local singers came forward to take part.

It is believed Overgate was the first hospice to have its own choir and since those early days it has become a well-known and much-loved ensemble in the Calderdale area.

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Since 1997 the choir has been conducted by Dr Simon Lindley, Music Director of St Peter’s Singers, and conductor of Sheffield Bach Choir and Doncaster Choral Society. He was the longest-serving organist at Leeds Minster and is the renowned Leeds City Organist, with regular recitals at Leeds Town Hall.

He will be taking the choir through a festive programme of carols and songs – including those for audience participation – while the Hammonds musicians are to play an eclectic mix – from Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival to Sandy Smith’s Caribbean Christmas.

Overgate Hospice Choir in full voice

Alan Horsey, former organist at Bradford Cathedral, is the choir’s accompanist and will be playing An Organ Carillon solo.

Over the years, the choir has performed some of the greatest choral works, including Handel’s Messiah, John Rutter’s Requiem and The Armed Man, a Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins. For next year’s anniversary it will be revisiting Haydn’s Creation, the work that launched the choir.

Before the Christmas concert the choir is also singing at the Light Up a Life event at Overgate Hospice on Thursday, December 17, from 6.30pm.

Tickets for the main concert on December 19, which starts at 7pm, are £12 from Overgate Hospice, Harveys department store in Halifax, or by calling 01484 723400.