A magical evening with Ballianlay Choir

Ballianlay Choir in action at their annual Christmas concert on Wednesday, December 7 in Rothesay Joint Campus.
Ballianlay Choir in action at their annual Christmas concert on Wednesday, December 7 in Rothesay Joint Campus.

There was no possibility of anyone leaving Ballianlay Choir’s Christmas Concert on Wednesday evening not full of festive spirit after a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

The choir, which has been rehearsing since August under the direction of Fiona Shaw, was in fine voice and treated the audience to a number of new works as well as their much-loved old favourites.

Highlights included a beautiful arrangement of the late Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ by Michael Joncas, and ‘O Holy Night’.

Choir members who took centre stage to sing solos were Layla Templeton, Mary Spencer, and Malcolm Alexander. Layla, who recently won the Young Musician of the Year competition organised by the island’s Rotary club, performed Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ and ‘The Girl from 14G’ written by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. The latter piece was a hilarious account of a woman’s experience living beside some very noisy neighbours - each with their own very personal taste in music.

Mary sang a beautiful rendition of ‘The Three Kings’ by the German composer Peter Cornelius, and Malcolm - or Captain Alexander as he should perhaps now be known - led the audience in some sea shanties, each with a festive twist and more than a few laughs along the way.

Fifteen-year-old Emily Phillips, granddaughter of choir member Meg Young, also added to the entertainment with a performance of three pieces for the piano which included the ‘Indian Pony Race’ by Glover and Satie’s ‘Gymnopedie No. 1’. A very talented young lady!

Storyteller Alison Clarke’s festive readings were very entertaining - one told the story of a child’s Christmas in Wales (the accent was spot on Alison, don’t worry!), and the second focused on the etiquette surrounding sending and receiving Christmas cards. Both very funny stories but giving pause for thought, too.

The evening - which included refreshments courtesy of Rothesay Academy’s hospitality department - raised a whopping £1905, with £1,270 of that going to Bute Kidney Patients Support Group and the remaining £635 to Rothesay Academy’s Sailing Initiative.

Giving the vote of thanks, Shirley McFarlane - who accepted the cheque on behalf of the kidney support group - thanked all who had made the night such a success, in particular Tony Spencer who had accompanied the choir and all the soloists, and Fiona Shaw for organising the much-loved event.