Choir’s prayers answered by young musicians

Alex Banfield and Catherine Simpson
Alex Banfield and Catherine Simpson
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TWO Morpeth musicians are tuning up for one of the biggest concerts of their budding careers after joining an acclaimed community choir.

Fifteen-year-old Catherine Simpson, who plays the flute, and tenor Alex Banfield, 21, have answered an appeal from the Mid Northumberland Chorus for more younger members.

And the pair will make their debut with the group when they perform at its annual Christmas Concert on Saturday in front of a sell-out crowd of 180.

The programme includes excerpts from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, as well as a selection of Christmas carols.

Mid Northumberland Chorus Chairman Chris Lediard said: “We wanted to encourage young musicians so that the choir will continue in the future. The average age of the choir is in their 60s so it is important to get younger members of the community involved.

“We like to promote young performers and encourage them to take part in our concerts and if they are good enough they will have a solo spot.”

Catherine, who lives in Lancaster Park, has been playing the flute for nine years and won the under-16 class at this year’s Wansbeck Music Festival.

The King Edward VI School (KEVI) pupil is already a member of the Northumberland County Concert Band and the school orchestra and she is well acquainted with the chorus as her mother Juliet is a member.

She said: “It is really good that they encourage young people to perform. I think many young people may be scared to join, but they are supportive and it is good fun.”

Alex, from Stobhill, who also attended KEVI and was a choral scholar at St Anne’s Catholic Cathedral while studying at Leeds University, currently performs at five services a week with the Newcastle Cathedral Choir.

He has recently been awarded a place at Trinity London to further his professional singing career.

“Performing alongside the Mid Northumberland Chorus will be great experience of working on big pieces like Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in a friendly environment so I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

The concert takes place at St George’s United Reformed Church.