A modern twist on an old favourite in Linlithgow

Linlithgow Ladies Choir has been rehearsing for their upcoming show
Linlithgow Ladies Choir has been rehearsing for their upcoming show

Linlithgow Ladies Choir intend to break new ground this Christmas by performing a re-imagined version of traditional hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel.

They will unveil their work during their concert at St Michael’s RC Church on Friday, December 4.

Local composer Suzanne Perry was commissioned by the choir to create the new version of the song.

Musical director Kirsty Ball had been nurturing the idea for some time and, when she discovered that Suzanne lived locally, she jumped on the chance to meet her.

She listened to her composition of ‘Haul Away for Heaven’, performed by the Artisan Trio in Dunblane Cathedral, and Kirsty was delighted to find that she and Suzanne were very much on the same wavelength.

She said: “Suzanne understood what I had in mind. Even more importantly, she was sympathetic to the challenges involved in writing for a community choir in which there is a range of ability and experience.

“Singing contemporary music can feel very different and challenging, but I am delighted at the enthusiasm with which the ladies have risen to that challenge. Suzanne’s music is moving and beautiful. I am very proud that we will be premiering this piece to a Linlithgow audience.”

For Suzanne, the commission marks her first Christmas work, her first experience of working with an amateur group, her first all-female collaboration and the first time her work will have been performed in her local community.

The inspiration behind Suzanne’s contemporary arrangement of O Come O Come Emmanuel is itself unusual and another first for her. She said: “It’s a rare thing to hear a Christmas carol for the first time as an adult. The power of the haunting medieval melody inspired me to go back to the original plainchant.

“From there, I have taken my own very personal voyage of exploration to create this work for the choir.”

The choir now have 60 singers on board and as a community choir they all aim to be part of community life.

They regularly put on their own concerts in Linlithgow, but they also participate in charity events run by other organisations.

Further afield, the choir have performed in prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Usher Hall to help raise funds for Cancer Research.

The Ladies Choir doe fundraising to help with the purchase of new music but also donate to a local charity each year. Last year the charity was Eczema Scotland, which is based in Linlithgow.

In 2014, the choir celebrated their 10th anniversary with a well-received concert which was standing room only.

The Christmas concert will feature some familiar carols and others that do not often get an airing. It starts at 7.30pm and entry is by donation. All proceeds will go to a local charity.

There will be refreshments including mince pies, mulled wine, tea and coffee in the church hall afterwards.