Children across Hull will rub shoulders with some of the country’s brightest singing stars this year when they perform live on the City Hall stage in celebration of Hull 2017 UK City of Culture.
‘A Song for Hull’ is a joint project between Hull Children’s University, HPSS, and the Hey! Let’s Sing Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust staff choir. In September last year, it was announced that the group’s bid to stage the performance had been successful, and that the team would receive a grant from Hull 2017’s Creative Communities Programme, which is being delivered in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund, to help get it off the ground.
Now planners can reveal that around 240 children from eight schools across the city will have the chance to perform alongside Jonathan Ansell, who found fame on X Factor as part of classical group, G4, in one of the city’s most iconic venues.
As well as Jonathan and around 60 hospital staff, the children will also step on stage with Hull-based rapper, Nineties Boy (aka Luke Chambers) and the Garnett Family, who also shot to stardom last year when they reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent.
Helen Garnett, Director and Founder of All For One Choir/member of The Garnett Family, will serve as the musical director for A Song for Hull and coordinate the show, whilst Nineties Boy will pen the lyrics for the finale based on poems written by the children.
Martin Gore, a member of the Hey! Let’s Sing choir and former Chair of Hull Children’s University (HCU), explains how the idea came about:
“The Hey! Let’s Sing choir had its own Britain’s Got Talent experience last year, when we travelled down to Birmingham to perform for Simon Cowell and the other judges in the magnificent Hippodrome. It was at that moment, when I was on stage, that it struck me; shouldn’t every child in Hull be able to have a similar, awe-inspiring experience?
“Upon our return, we got our heads together with members of Hull Children’s University (HCU) and HPSS to develop the idea as a way of showcasing local talent and giving youngsters in Hull a unique and exciting experience.”
Linda Cressey, Managing Director of HPSS Events, brought in G4 frontman Jonathan Ansell and Nineties Boy to the project. She says:
“Jonathan agreed to take part immediately. He has a real desire to support educational causes, and of course Luke is not only a talented musician but also a qualified teacher, so he understands how beneficial this will be to the children.”
For Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, A Song for Hull provides staff with another opportunity to showcase their musical talents and place healthcare at the heart of the local community. Martin continues:
“The Trust is one of the region’s biggest employers, and local children are our next generation of staff, so this partnership is a wonderful way for us to demonstrate our commitment to them and to promote the health and wellbeing benefits which singing brings. I’m just so thrilled that we are now able to make this idea a reality.”
Helen Garnett says of her involvement:
“I am delighted to be supporting A Song for Hull through arrangements and co-writing the piece that will be performed. It has been a privilege to lead the Hey! Let’s Sing choir for the past two years and to guide its members during the many experiences they have had.
“I am passionate about providing people with opportunities to get involved in singing, and it’s wonderful to be working with G4’s Jonathan Ansell again and with Nineties Boy for the first time. It’s going to be an exciting year and I can’t wait to work with both the children and the Hey! Let’s Sing choir on this project.”
But of course, the real stars of the show will be the children themselves. Natasha Banke from HCU says:
“We’ve been careful to involve a cross section of schools throughout the city, and the funding we have received from the Creative Communities Team will help us to prepare the children for their performance and offer discounted tickets to their immediate family, who I’m sure will be bursting with pride.
“Ahead of the performance, all of the children will be asked to write about what Hull means to them personally and the kind of future they want to see for our city, and these thoughts and aspirations will feature heavily on the night.”
Martin Green, CEO and Director of Hull 2017, says:
“This is exactly what Creative Communities is all about – showcasing local talent while giving young people an opportunity to develop that talent by working with national artists. Not only will the children be sharing the stage with a multi-platinum selling artist but they will be performing a song specially written for them based on their own words.”
Work is now underway to agree some of the finer detail of the concert, which will take place on Friday 20th October at Hull City Hall. Tickets for the show, which will feature a mix of pop music, classical, rap, rock and blues, will go on sale in the coming weeks and are expected to sell fast.