It’s the first time a Christmas concert has been organised for Maggie’s and I hope it becomes an annual event. It was well organised with a great collection of choirs, singers and musicians, and with a focus on Christmas, it was a heart-warming, inspiring and uplifting afternoon.
Kirsty Wark as Patron announced the proceedings, followed by Gillian Hailstones, the Centre Head for Maggie’s at Gartnavel. Some of the people in the audience have had some experience of Maggie’s and most of us know of someone who has had cancer.
The programme reminds us of a message from Laura Lee, Maggie’s Chief Executive:
“Our Centres are here for anyone with any type of cancer and their families and friends, offering the practical, emotional and social support that people with cancer need”
The day started with a choir from Maggie’s, who we were told, had been practising fervently, and it showed. A surprise was a lovely crafted song called Sancta Maria.
Next up was the BBC Pacific Quire – which as the name suggests was made up with employees from the BBC, and they seem to be harbouring a few workers with hidden talents as their renditions of Gaudete, Silent Night and Away In A Manager ensured people captured the Christmas spirit. Their version of Wham’s Last Christmas showed an impressive solo vocal performance and some gorgeous harmonies.
Jerry Burns shimmered on the stage as she wore a silver glittery outfit and lovely skyscraper heels, and coming from a talented background of creatives and artists, she was joined by a younger member of the Burns family, her nephew Ryan Joseph Burns. And it’s such a treat to hear Jerry Burns sing, she has one of the country’s most beautiful voices. She accompanied Ryan on a few of his songs, including the dreamy melody Where She And I Were Born.
Then taking centre stage Jerry sang A Softer Place To Fall (After All), accompanied by Ryan.
Ryan also performed with singer/songwriter Tommy Reilly on Old Habits Die Hard.
An interval allowed for some time to visit the tombola while having some mulled wine and mince pies – the sweet pasties that had survived a stealthy theft and swift snaffling from some greedy labradors. It seemed that someone’s pets had infiltrated the homemade mince pies – thankfully there were still lots to go around.
The second half introduced the music impresario Craig Armstrong. For someone who has composed movie scores for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, he seemed humble and unassuming. He sat at the piano and was joined by the McOpera Ensembles – a string quartet from Scottish Opera, and played the theme from the movies Love Actually and The Great Gatsby.
Craig Armstrong and Jerry Burns go back a long way and there’s an obvious friendship and mutual respect. They have collaborated recently on Armstrong’s latest album – the excellent It’s Nearly Tomorrow and Jerry joined him to sing the haunting Powder.
Then it was the turn of Alistair Ogilvy to join Armstrong on stage for Wake Up In New York.
Closing the day was the West of Scotland Military Wives Choir and this collection of women were an inspired addition to the day. With the focus very much on Christmas, we were reminded that for various reasons some people may be facing a festive season worrying about their loved ones.
Their version of the Karine Polwart song The Good Years was especially poignant and affecting. There were some lovely solo performances on On My Own from Les Miserables, Let It Go from Disney’s massive hit movie Frozen was a popular choice and Pharrell Williams’ Happy got the crowd clapping and singing.
The day ended with everyone on their feet trying to remember the order and actions of the 12 Days of Christmas and ensured that everyone left in a festive and good-natured mood with their hearts a little lighter.