Is there any better way to start the Christmas holidays than a trip to Huddersfield’s iconic Town Hall for an hour of festive music from Borough Organist Dr Gordon Stewart, the combined voices of two junior choirs and a demonstration of
virtuoso percussion?

For the last 25 years, Gordon and a variety of musical friends have been pulling in the crowds – offering respite from winter weather, shopping and seasonal stress – with a lunchtime concert close to Christmas. This year it couldn’t be much closer – Monday, December 21 – and falls during the school holidays, which makes the event perfect for family members of all ages.

“It means a lot to me,” says Gordon, who is a lay reader at his home church in New Mills, Derbyshire, (where he will play the organ on Christmas morning).

“I will be playing for 20 minutes – works based on Christmas carols from all over Europe – and we have the Huddersfield Boys and Girls Choirs singing for 20 minutes and then there’s 20 minutes from a fantastic percussionist who did really well in the Kirklees Musician of the Year.”

Gordon Stewart playing the organ at Huddersfield Town Hall
Gordon Stewart playing the organ at Huddersfield Town Hall

The choirs joining Gordon this year are linked to St Patrick’s RC Church in Huddersfield and were founded following a Leeds Diocesan singing programme in 2008. Around 80 children will perform at the town hall with a programme of carols and Christmas favourites conducted by Charles Rhodes.

Adam Finchett, who was a finalist in this year’s Mrs Sunderland Festival Kirklees Musician of the Year competition and a member of the Halle Youth Orchestra, has been invited to showcase his skills on the African drum, the marimba, and is described by Gordon as “our wild card”.

“We always try to have something different,” he explained, “to have a wide range of music. But there’s always a children’s choir – in the past we have had the choir from Huddersfield Christian Fellowship and Wakefield Cathedral.

“A lot of the audience are older people and they love the fact that the youngsters are involved. They get a real buzz out of watching the young people.”

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The programme for the event includes the Angel Carol by Rutter, traditional favourites such as Away in a Manger and a selection of Christmas organ music by Noel Raws-thorne, Louise Claude Daquin and contemporary Yorkshire composer Robert Cockroft.

Gordon is currently working his way through what might be his last complete season of concerts for Kirklees – the post of borough organist has been made redundant.

He’s unsure whether further concerts will be planned when the current season ends in late February 2016 and acknowledges that this could be his final Christmas in Huddersfield.

Huddersfield Town Hall.

“I haven’t the first clue about what is going on,” he said, “but I have had notice of redundancy and the job of borough organist is going.”

So this might be his last Christmas playing the Father Willis organ – a treat not to be missed.

Being a lunchtime concert it has a particular following.

As Gordon says: “A lot of my audiences don’t like going out at night and nearly all the Christmas concerts in town are evening events. So this one is ideal for people who don’t want to venture out in the evening.”

As with all Monday organ recitals, the festive celebration starts at 1pm and lunches are served in the Old Court Room from 11.30am.

Tickets for the concert are £4 and £5.50. Bookings can be made at www.kirkleestownhalls.co.uk or on 01484 223200.