December is always a busy month for musicians and singers, and this year has been no exception for Voices of Hope! Having had a busy autumn working towards Body of Song, it was nice to get back into rehearsals and sing some of our favourite Christmas music - it was certainly a contrast to the challenges of Body of Song!
We had two main Christmas events this year - our own concert at the Maltings in Berwick-upon-Tweed, plus singing as part of the Light up a Life Service, organised by St Oswald's Hospice. Some of us also had a fun afternoon out at Alnwick Gardens, singing carols at their Christmas Market.
We made the trip up to Berwick on Friday 12th December; thankfully it's been such a mild winter that we weren't affected by the weather - always a worry when driving through Northumberland in December! Christmas jumpers were the order of the day for many of us, but sadly our plan of pre-concert carol singing was thwarted by a few rain showers.
The concert itself went really well - the Henry Travers Studio at the Maltings is a really lovely room, with a great panoramic view over Berwick. One of our altos, Gail, was actually born in Berwick and grew up just a few miles away in Duns, so it was lovely to have a local connection; it also helped to secure a page and a half spread in the local paper to advertise the concert! It was wonderful to have such full and supportive audience, especially on a dark and damp December evening.
We've got to say a huge thanks to everyone at the Maltings - we had a lovely time and were well looked after. It would be lovely to visit again in the future!
Following a few hours back in Newcastle, some of us were back on the A1 up to Alnwick, where we'd been invited to sing carols at the Alnwick Gardens Christmas Market. With lovely food, drink and craft stalls, and a stunning Christmas tree made entirely of glass baubles, it was a wonderfully fun afternoon of singing and shopping - what more could you want! We also enjoyed an evening stroll around the gardens with the impressive Chrstimas lights - if you haven't been yet, it's definitely worth going to see!
We were singing together again after a few days rest and recuperation (or, in most cases, more work and other concerts!), this time at Newcastle Metro Arena, as part of the St Oswald's Hospice Light up a Life service. We were delighted to be invited back this year, and it's becoming one of our favourite events to be a part of. It was great to be sharing the stage with Newcastle Concert Band again, and also with Longbenton Community College Senior Choir, directed by our very own Mary Houlton. The service was a beautiful and moving event, culminating in the lighting of the Christmas tree - with thousands of lights, each dedicated to a loved one who has lost their life. Thank you to St Oswald's for inviting us back this year, and letting us be part of this event.
After all that wonderful singing, it's time to put our feet up and open the chocolates! We hope all our singers and supporters have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and keep an eye on the website for exciting announcements about events next year...!